Written by Kate Lazarus of the International Finance Corporation (IFC)
IFC will commission a rapid Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the hydropower sector in Myanmar with support from the Australian government. To prepare for the SEA, we are asking experts, CSOs and local people from the region to share their experiences on this process. Together, we will explore new ideas on how to pursue the study that aims to contribute to the sustainability of hydropower in this country.
Energy from Myanmar’s 100,000 megawatts of untapped hydropower potential, if developed sustainably, can benefit 34 million people. Sustainable hydropower development is an important part of the energy mix for Myanmar. However, it also comes with environmental and social impacts that the sector and industry must better understand and mitigate.
We want to see the bigger picture: How do we make Myanmar’s hydropower industry environmentally and socially sustainable over the long term? What are the key environmental and social characteristics of Myanmar’s river basins? What do we know about critical habitats, biodiversity hotspots, aquatic resources, and local peoples? Working closely with Myanmar’s Ministry of Electric Power and the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry, and interested stakeholders, the SEA will provide information to guide hydropower development in the immediate and longer terms in a sustainable manner.
We want to hear from you before we begin. Next week in Phnom Penh, we will reach out to NGOs, CSOs, researchers, industry professionals, and government officials at the 2015 Greater Mekong Forum on Water, Food, and Energy. The opinions and feedback from participants will help us decide what the SEA should focus on and how to better engage stakeholders.
The session (Special Session 11 & 13 on 22 October) welcomes all perspectives. It aims to be constructive and will not provide green or red signals to hydropower development, or prescriptive ways forward. It is an opportunity for experts to share their knowledge and help create a better understanding of how such SEAs can help in the Myanmar context. It is also a networking session to learn how we can work together better in the future.
Our work over the next years will help Myanmar develop policies and regulations that will contribute to sector sustainability. We will build official capacity on environmental and social sustainability and raise awareness of IFC’s Performance Standards. Additionally, we will reach out to hydropower companies interested in investing in Myanmar. We will get them involved in crafting of policies and regulations and invite them to join the Hydropower Developers’ Working Group. We also offer training and capacity building to CSOs and other stakeholders if interested.
This session builds on a workshop organized by the World Bank Group and the International Hydropower Association (IHA) in January 2015. Over 160 participants from NGOs, government, private sector, and financial institutions attended. Perspectives from the January workshop will be shared at this Forum, to be used as a foundation to discuss sustainability of the hydropower sector in Myanmar.
We invite you to join us at 1.30 p.m., October 22. The session is highly interactive and requires all participants to share and exchange experiences.
Kate Lazarus (email@example.com) is a senior operations officer for environmental and social standards in the hydropower sector in Asia at IFC. Learn more about IFC’s work to raise environmental and social standards and build a more sustainable hydropower in Asia.