Reconciling the Interests of Hydropower and Environmental Protection in the Danube River Basin - page 05

The Way Forward

The Guiding Principles are planned to be finalised during 2013. The document will have the character of recommendations without exerting a legally binding force for the countries. Therefore, further steps will be required on the national level after finalisation in order to make the Guiding Principles operational. A further exchange between the countries in this follow-up process is considered to be beneficial for sharing experiences towards the achievement of sustainable solutions.

The Guiding principles will also make a significant contribution to the Danube Strategy adopted by the European Commission which calls for the development of guidelines for sustainable hydropower production in the Danube Region. This document will help ensure the compatibility of the various pillars of the Danube Strategy which on the one side are promoting economic development and on the other side are supporting the efforts towards environmental protection.

The application of the Guiding Principles will be an effort that will take place in the coming years but the constructive dialogue and agreements to date on common strategies should help this process. The process is coming to a close in terms of agreement on Guiding Principles but the dialogue that has taken place has already helped strengthen the understanding between water managers, environmental NGOs and hydropower companies and proponents.

It is clear that differences still exist among these sectors but the areas of conflict have been reduced and agreement has been reached on a strategic planning approach that should reduce the number of conflicts in the future. In addition, a substantial amount of good practices from hydropower management in harmony, or at least consideration of the environment, has been assembled and shared. Many of these examples have shown that there are positive examples at both existing and future power plants where the quality of water does not have to be substantially degraded as a consequence of hydropower production.

In conclusion, additional efforts are going to be needed to ensure that both existing hydropower facilities and future plants do not impact the environment and are built in appropriate locations. The dialogue for achieving this has begun and needs to continue. The Guiding Principles should provide an important basis to reduce the conflicts that might have existed between the goals of water protection and energy production.

For further information please contact the ICPDR secretariat via



Hydropower plant Arto-Blanca at the Sava River, Slovenia. Hydropower contributes to the generation of renewable energy but also causes negative environmental impacts - the challenge is to strike the right balance.



Example for a mitigation measure at a hydropower dam: Vertical-slot fish pass enabling the migration of fish species. Practical advice for building fish migration aids can be obtained from a recently published Technical Paper available on the ICPDR website: © Mielach