Statement from GGPs 2nd Committee: Priority should be given to Smale and Medium scale hydropower

Declaration from 2nd Session of Green Growth Platform on « Investing in Climate change adaptation & Climate change », on Saturday 18th of October 2014, chaired by U Tun Lwin, Climate Change Watch’s ChairmanU Tun Lwin MMK

Energy is a prerequisite to sustainable socio-economic development.  A lack of access to, and insufficient supplies of, electricity are currently hindering Myanmar’s economic growth and social development.

There is a growing consensus that Myanmar should adopt an approach that employs both centralized and decentralized generating solutions in order to address chronic electricity shortages and achieve the stated goal of universal electrification by 2030 in a manner that is rapid, sustainable and cost-efficient. Emerging government electrification policies, however, appear to favor a centralized approach that may not ultimately be in the best economic, political, social and environmental interests of the country.

Hydropower will play a critical role in helping Myanmar address and overcome now chronic energy shortages to sustain economic growth and social development for decades to come. The majority of the hydropower projects currently being planned are large in scale (>100MW). The construction and operation of large-scale hydropower projects will likely be accompanied by irreversible and significant negative impacts, economically, politically, socially, environmentally. A growing body of evidence from the United Nations and numerous reputable scientific and academic journals draws into serious question the economic and environmental sustainability of large-scale hydropower projects.

Small and medium-scale hydropower projects represent a more sustainable, economically viable and socially acceptable alternative to large-scale hydropower projects. This is particularly true for Myanmar given the country’s substantial renewable freshwater resources, only 5% of which have been exploited, and the population’s high-level of dependence of wild-capture fisheries for national food security.

In order for Myanmar to accelerate and sustain economic growth and social development, public, private and non-profit stakeholders must cooperate to:

1) Develop and employ objective and holistic evaluation methods that will help ensure the immediate benefits of hydropower development are not exceeded by future costs, economically, environmentally or politically; and

2) Develop legal frameworks and investment mechanisms to attract investment from both domestic and foreign investors into small and medium-scale hydropower projects.