Focus Session

Hydropower & World Heritage Sites

Synergies between hydropower and World Heritage Sites.

Thursday 16 May 2019 | 14:00-15:15 | room: Mansart

Protected areas are one of the most important tools to halt the global loss of biodiversity. They also contribute to achieving multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as SDG 6 (Water and sanitation) SDG 14 (Life below water) and 15 (Life on land). Healthy protected areas provide basic goods and services, and help to provide access to food, fibre, shelter and security, and clean water. They can also offer valuable options for society to mitigate and adapt to climate change through ecosystem benefits such as water and climate regulation. Some of the most valuable and exceptional protected areas are given an international protected status through the World Heritage Convention.

Through their World Heritage Listing, the global community has recognised a shared international responsibility to protect these outstanding sites and manage them for the planet, and its future generations.

Hydropower projects can offer clean energy, various water services, and regulate water flow. Hydropower projects have the potential to promote the sustainable development of the communities they serve, yet they inevitably alter the existing conditions of the river basins they operate in. This can create positive and negative impacts both locally and upstream and downstream of projects. These impacts may be direct and/or indirect and have intended and/or unintended consequences. Increasingly, these impacts may also affect protected areas, including globally significant World Heritage Sites where they overlap or share their watershed with potential hydropower sites.

The challenge is to carefully assess these impacts on protected areas and World Heritage Sites, and to consider the best options available to avoid or mitigate negative impacts, while identifying solutions to meet water and energy needs.

Session objectives:

The objectives of this session are to:

  • increase awareness within the hydropower community of the risks hydropower development can bring to Protected Areas;
  • provide evidence of synergies between hydropower and Protected Areas
  • make recommendations on how the hydropower sector can be better informed about the risks and synergies between hydropower projects and Protected Areas.
  • discuss the possibility of initiating a working group, where WWF and IUCN work with IHA to guide the hydropower sector to optimise synergies with Protected Areas through case studies from inside and outside the sector.

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Daniele CRISA

Consultant, International Affairs Department, China Three Gorges (CTG)
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Coordinator and Conservation Science Expert, Rivers Without Boundaries


Dams Leader, World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
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Director Global Water Programme and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
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Emmanuel DE MERODE

Park Director, Virunga National Park
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Programme Specialist, UNESCO World Heritage Centre
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Senior Sustainability Specialist, International Hydropower Association
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