Reconciling the Interests of Hydropower and Environmental Protection in the Danube River Basin - page 03


The Process

The development of a dialogue process on "Guiding Principles on Sustainable Hydropower Development in the Danube Basin" was initiated by the ICPDR based upon the success of a similar process focused on development of navigation undertaken with the Danube Commission and Sava Commission. In order to carry out the process in which three "Lead Countries", namely Austria, Romania and Slovenia, were nominated to steer the process within the framework of the ICPDR. A broad participative process was set up with involvement of representatives from administrations (energy and environment), the hydropower sector, NGOs and the scientific community. The direct involvement of representatives from the hydropower sector and water and energy ministries and non-governmental groups was essential to ensure that all stakeholders with an interest in the issue had input.

As a basis for the Guiding Principles the document entitled "Assessment Report on Hydropower Generation in the Danube Basin" was prepared, providing key facts and data on hydropower generation in the context of water management, flood protection, biodiversity and nature protection in the Danube Basin. The report cited in the previous section was based on replies of Danube countries to a questionnaire. In addition, an Annex including case studies and good practice examples was elaborated, offering additional practical input and support for achieving sustainable solutions for hydropower development.

The general objective of the Guiding Principles is to create a common vision and understanding on the requirements, the policy framework and issues to be addressed to ensure sustainable use of hydropower in the Danube basin.

The document is expected to play an important role in a coherent and coordinated implementation of relevant legislation, in particular for the EU Renewable Energy Directive, the EU Water Framework Directive and other relevant environmental and water management legislation.

By helping to ensure a proportionate and streamlined decision-making process, the Guiding Principles aim to provide support towards the timely achievement of renewable energy targets by minimising delays, while at the same time ensuring the achievement of environmental and water management objectives.

The Guiding Principles will primarily be addressed to public bodies and competent authorities responsible for the planning and authorization of hydropower. This includes in particular, bodies on the national, regional and local level in charge of energy, environment and water management issues. Furthermore, the Guiding Principles are also expected to provide relevant information for potential investors in the hydropower sector, as well as for NGOs and the interested public.

The Guiding Principles have been under development through a series of workshops and a number of meetings of the Team of Experts. These meetings and workshops have resulted in the completion of a final draft of the Guiding Principles, an Assessment Report, and a collection of Case Studies and Good Practice Examples; these are intended to accompany the Guiding Principles. The results of the work were presented and discussed at the international Conference on Hydropower and Water Management held on 26-27 March, 2013 in Ljubljana, with participation of around 90 representatives from 13 countries.