South Africa: Low carbon investments in sustainable water infrastructure must be prioritized

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WaterSan Perspective Reporter
December 6, 2011

The importance globally prioritizing low carbon investments in sustainable water infrastructure has been highlighted during a side event to the COP17 Conference in Durban, Mobilizing finance and investments for water security and climate resilience, by Cameron Ironside, Programme Director, International Hydropower Association (IHA).

Cameron Ironside, Programme Director, International Hydropower Association (IHA)

“Sustainable water infrastructure is critical to global water security and to ensuring resilience to the impacts of climate change, but it requires much more investment if the full, multiple benefits of such storage are to be realized.” said Mr Ironside

“Providing robust tools which stimulate these low carbon investments must be made a priority for those serious about climate change adaptation. That’s where the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol, an evidence-based assessment tool covering the full range of relevant sustainability topics, has much to offer in helping to inform policy.” he continued.

Following a introductory presentation by Alex Simalabwi, Senior Network Officer & Climate Change Focal Point-Global Water Partnership (GWP) on: Framework for water security and climate resilient development (FWA-SACRED), presentations were given by Pervaiz Amir, GWP South Asia, entitled: Pakistan after the floods – setting priorities for Investments in water security, and Mr Ironside entitled: Prioritising low carbon investments in sustainable water infrastructure – application of the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol.

Presentations were followed by reflections from a high-level panel moderated by Professor Mike Muller of the GWP Technical Committee. The panel included: Honourable Diana McQueen, Minister of Environment and Water, Canada, Dr Ania Grobicki, Executive Secretary, GWP, Mr Anders Berntell, Executive Director, Stockholm International Water Institute, Stef Raubenheimer, CEO of SouthSouthNorth and CDKN Council Member, and Mr Bai-Mass Taal, Executive Secretary of the African Ministers Council on Water (AMCOW).

Protesters during the COP17 protest in Durban

The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol, a comprehensive tool to assess the sustainability of hydropower projects globally, provides a rigorous, evidence-based assessment of between 19-23 relevant sustainability topics, covering social, economic, and environmental aspects. Topics include issues such as downstream flow regimes, indigenous peoples, biodiversity, infrastructure safety, resettlement, water quality, and erosion and sedimentation.

It is the product of a multi-stakeholder development process involving representatives from social and environmental NGOs (Oxfam, The Nature Conservancy, Transparency International, WWF); governments (China, Germany [as an observer], Iceland, Norway, Zambia); commercial and development banks (including banks that are signatory to the Equator Principles, and the World Bank [as an observer]); and the hydropower sector, represented by IHA.

IHA, as part of the International Renewable Energy Alliance (REN Alliance), is actively participating in the Conference to ensure that water takes its rightful place as a core issue in climate change negotiations and that the role of hydropower in contributing to both climate change adaptation and mitigation is clearly recognised.

The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is taking place in Durban, 28 November to 9 December. It is an opportunity for world decision-makers to make positive steps towards addressing the interrelated challenges of climate change, poverty reduction and sustainable development.

The International Hydropower Association (IHA) was formed under the auspices of UNESCO in 1995 and addresses the role of hydropower in meeting the world’s growing water and energy needs as a clean, renewable and sustainable technology. With members active in more than 80 countries, IHA is a non-governmental, mutual association of organisations and individuals. To find out more about the work of the IHA visit: www.hydropower.org

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