2 mins Read
The Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region has nearly 500 GW hydropower potential, but only a fraction of it has been developed. As countries in the region gear up for increased hydropower production to alleviate energy poverty, they find themselves grappling with increasing climatic and social risks. A seminar convened by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), FutureWater, and Statkraft on 1 September 2016 at Stockholm World Water Week discussed these risks and the way forward.
“There is a need to manage risks so that the mountains and the plains derive sustainable benefits from the region’s rich hydropower potential”, said David Molden, ICIMOD, stressing the importance of the HKH as a global asset.
The hydropower sector is facing major challenges as a result of climate change-induced glacier melt. Glaciers across the region are retreating, leading to changes in future hydrological regimes. At the same time, the risk of glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) and landslides is increasing, putting both existing and planned hydropower plants at risk.
“Changes in hydrological regimes means that there will be more water in the near future as glaciers melt, but it will decline after 2100”, said Arthur Lutz from FutureWater, a water management research organization.
Martin Honsberg, from the hydropower company Statkraft, added, “The only feasible way to manage this risk is to be better informed about the impacts of climate change on glaciers and river regimes, which can be done by setting up long-term monitoring systems.”
ICIMOD and FutureWater are studying glaciers across the HKH to understand the impacts of climate change in the mountains and the possible downstream consequences. The results of these studies were presented during the seminar.
The societal risks of alienating local people in areas where hydropower projects are constructed are nearly as important to consider as climate risk. These projects are mostly in mountain areas, and local people often perceive that the benefits accrue to people in the plains who get electricity, while people in the mountains bear the environmental and social costs. To manage this risk, hydropower companies need to provide direct and tangible benefits to local communities.
Aditi Mukherji, ICIMOD, discussed successful benefit sharing mechanisms in Nepal and India, concluding that good and responsible governance at the local level is needed to ensure that local communities derive commensurate benefits from hydropower projects.
At World Water Week this year, ICIMOD convened various seminars and hosted a booth to draw attention to a range of water-related issues and their impact on the ecosystems and people of the Hindu Kush Himalayan region.
For more information please contact
Theme Leader, Water and Air, ICIMOD
Senior Communications Officer, ICIMOD
Stay up to date on what’s happening around the HKH with our most recent publications and find out how you can help by subscribing to our mailing list.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="570"] Dr Tira Foran, CSIRO speaks at the opening of ...
Delivering the Valedictory address at the International Symposium on Transforming Mountain Forestry Hon’ble Dr Krishan Kant Paul, the Governor of ...
Representatives from LDC mountain nations call for greater investment in the mountains for a sustainable global future
(11 December ...
Experts and policymakers in Pakistan stress the need for a shared understanding of human mobility across national policies on climate ...
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="560"] From left to right: Gehendra Gurung (Practical Action), Madhukar ...
On 23 March 2022, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Surketham Dairy Cooperative Limited (SDCL), and Nepal Dairy ...
More than four hundred experts in Kathmandu to discuss solutions for mountain communities
Four hundred experts from around the world are ...
ICIMOD works for the advancement of mountain people in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region. It is governed by its BoG, ...