News & Media
News and Media
Considerable capacity constraints stand in the way, new report states, but better strategic decision making tools can solve this problem.
- Present approaches to addressing social and environmental issues in hydropower development are not adequate and more effective mitigation and compensation measures must be introduced if hydropower development in Vietnam is to be placed on a more sustainable pathway.
This is one of the key messages from a policy summary entitled Harnessing Hydropower for Development: A Strategic Environmental Assessment for Sustainable Hydropower Development in Vietnam which was recently published by the Asian Development Bank. The policy summary is based on the full SEA report Strategic Environmental Assessment of the Hydropower Master Plan in the Context of the Power Development Plan VI.
The policy summary, which is authored by SEI researchers John Soussan and Måns Nilsson, states that there is great potential from hydropower development in areas such as water management, agricultural development, service provision and poverty reduction, but that these positive benefits are not yet fully recognized or realized.
Considerable capacity constraints
Through Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), which is a international approach to integrate environmental and social considerations into strategic decision making, the Ministry of Industry and Trade in Vietnam has, together with SEI, undertaken a pilot assessment of hydropower.
The main purpose of the pilot SEA exercise is to build capacity for the integration of SEA into hydropower development in Vietnam. However, there are obstacles.
- Vietnam has one of the most advanced SEA legislations in the world, but faces considerable capacity constraints in ensuring that this legislation is acted upon, says John Soussan.
Striking a sustainable balance
In a country where poverty prevails in central and northern mountainous areas, the goal of the assessment is to optimize the development of sustainable hydropower in these areas. That requires a delicate balancing act between economic development, social equity and environmental sustainability.
- While Vietnam has shown remarkable progress in poverty reduction in recent years, persistent poverty pockets remains in areas where most hydropower development will take place. A key consideration is therefore to strategically plan and develop hydropower in relation to wider policy priorities. These include maintaining economic growth and reducing poverty while at the same time ensuring ecological sustainability, Måns Nilsson says.
- The SEA has provided a mechanism to assess and understand the full range of potential risks associated with hydropower for people and the environment, both within the immediate vicinity of dam construction and beyond, Nilsson continues.
Download the report here