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Hydropower assessments

Besides immediate involvement in on-going hydropower-vs-rivers debate, Rivers without Boundaries coalition also works on long-term tools and solutions for river conservation and sustainable development. The Coalition seeks to enhance members’ capacity to assess water infrastructure development schemes at project and river-basin levels. It assists development of a common platform for effective dialogue with Rushydro, Eurosibenergo, ministries, Chinese hydropower companies, International Hydropower Association, finance institutions, etc.

RwB members are involved in:

– Development of databases and maps on existing and planned hydropower projects in major transboundary river basins and threats associated with it (e.g. Amur River Basin Information Center, White book on Russian Hydropower, WEB-GIS designed by Transparent World);

– Collection and design of methodologies to assess basin-wide impacts of water infrastructure to facilitate prioritizing of most dangerous projects for collective action (or selection of least damaging dam alternatives) ( e.g. submission to World Water Forum, analysis of Amur Hydro issues, etc.)).

– Initiating productive science-based debate on environmental flow norms, limits of allowable alteration of natural ecosystems, measuring adverse impacts of water infrastructure, accounting for natural values of free-flowing rivers that could be affected by dams.

By late 2011 RwB coalition members have heard assurances from two largest Russian hydropower companies that they are interested in conducting strategic basin-wide assessment of hydropower placement and its socio-economic and environmental consequences. This makes development of appropriate assessment methodology a high urgent priority.

For policy-oriented advocacy activities see Sino-Russian Hydropower projects