International projects\programs on hydropower development are at the focus of attention of the Rivers without Boundaries International Coalition.
Many Coalition members are facing destruction of rivers, they care about, fueled by international financing and transnational companies. Most major river basins we deal with are transboundary – shared by 2 and more countries, thus uncoordinated planning and exploitation of hydropower being one of major threats to river ecosystem well-being.(e.g.Yenisei, Amur, Irtysh). Also, electricity exports from hydropower, mainly to China, recently became popular (and very questionable) development objectives in Russia and other Asian countries and RwB has to confront this new challenge.
The Coalition seeks to address risks to environment and sustainable development that originate from international hydropower projects such as:
– Russian-Chinese Scheme for Integrated Water Resource Management of the transboundary Amur and Argun Rivers with 9 hydropower plants proposed. If implemented the plan would completely ruin great Amur River Ecosystem;
– Russian EN+ and Chinese Yangtze Power Co. plan to build extremely dangerous Trans-Sibirskaya hydro on Shilka River, and dam up to 8 other rivers to export electricity from Russia to China;
–EN+\EuroSibEnergo dams operated to sustain exports of aluminum and electricity are threatening Baikal Lake World Heritage Site and Angara-Yenisei river system;
–RusHydro Co. plans rapid increase in electricity exports to China, from Zeyskaya and Bureiskaya plants where increased production is possible due to refusal to sustain environmental flows and mitigate adverse impacts on river ecosystems in Amur River Basin;
The Coalition also seeks to address similar risks in other regions: in Mongolia, Burma, Central Asia, and assist developing information exchange and effective cooperation between NGOs and experts working on these issues.
RwB Coalition members jointly undertake the following activities:
– Development of information exchange platforms to assist search and analysis of essential information on hydropower issues (web-sites, knowledge-bases, regular conferences, expert consultations, etc);
– Engaging finance institutions and delivery/supply service providers to influence their clients that exploit relevant waterways ( e.g.Informing HKExchange on hydropower risks in the wake of EvroSibEnergo’s IPO );
-Run campaign on EN+\EuroSibEnergo focusing on investors -commercial banks through high-profile Banktrack web-site.
-Run public awareness campaigns highlighting particular projects or participate in environmental impact assessment process (Trans-Sibirskaya Hydro on Shilka, Boguchanskaya Hydro, Baikal Lake regulation debate, etc.)
-Lobbying authorities to establish environmental flow norms and other safeguards limiting impacts of dams on river systems and to conduct strategic assessments of regional and national water infrastructure facility plans;
-Engaging international conservation mechanisms like the Ramsar Convention and the UN Water Convention, Espoo Convention, forums, courts, etc.
For more technical and strategic activities related to hydropower see Hydropower Assessments projects
See full 2011 digest on main hydropower developments related to RwB work available in English.
Sino-Russian cooperation in years to come remains the most powerful incentives for damming of remaining free-flowing rivers of Northern Eurasia and therefore requires constant attention and control from civil society and expert community.