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World Bank’s Stance on Hydropower: “Main Component of the Bank’s Strategy"
“The World Bank and its clients recognize that sustainable hydropower is part of the solution for tackling the development challenges outlined in our mission, which is to eradicate poverty by 2030 and promote shared prosperity in an environment that is strongly marked by climate change.”
Devernay elaborated that Hydropower had the advantage of being both affordable and clean, as well as producing limited gas emissions. He further talked about the Bank’s plans on connecting hydropower more clearly to the global development and climate agenda, saying that “lending to hydropower projects will continue to be a main component of the bank’s strategy.”
“We will be working with our clients more and more to help them shape the hydropower sector in their own countries, and to help them prepare the right legal landscape and business environment for attracting other sources of funding. We intend to work with our clients to help them make sure that when they decide to go ahead with a project, it is optimum from the point of view of responding to the challenges of energy and water security, and it is properly sized in accordance with the general interests of the country.”
Regarding particular projects, Devernay responded that the World Bank Group have about 100 operations with hydropower components, of which around 40 prioritize that aspect. “This takes place largely in Asia, south Asia, south-east Asia, east Asia and Africa, and also central Europe to some extent, and central Asia. We are very much attuned with the natural distribution of size and type of projects that happens in the world. The bank has very small projects in its portfolio and it also has large, several-thousand-megawatt projects.”
The interview also touched upon matters of hydropower projects impacting communities in developing worlds. Devernay said that the past decades have taught the World Bank a lot on how to deal with these issues, and that the concerns of biodiversity, social and environmental impacts are very real.
“The World Bank has a very robust set of safeguards – conditions, in effect, which have to be satisfied by the country which borrows money from the bank to cope properly with those social and environmental impacts. Meeting those safeguards is a condition for the bank to finance the project.
What we will do in the future is put more emphasis on the actual implementation of the project, and also post-construction monitoring. I think we’ve been good at setting up the programmes upstream, but there is a need to do more on how those programmes are implemented and how they improve the livelihoods of the affected people many years after construction.”
He noted that when people have to be displaced, it’s not a question of mitigation, but rather an opportunity for these populations to live a better life.