Ecosystem approach to hydropower: how to implement European approaches in Eastern Partnership countries

Hydropower plants are the most powerful factors in the regulation of rivers, which leads to irreversible negative changes in river ecosystems and the loss of ecosystem services negatively affecting each resident of the river basin.

The national seminar of the project “Ecosystem approach to hydropower: promoting the implementation of European requirements for the development of hydropower in the countries of Eastern Europe” was held on July 26 in Baku (Hotel Sayd Boulevard, Ayaz Aliyeva 3).

Organizers: National Environmental Centre of Ukraine and Azerbaijan Ornithological Society with the support of the European Union and the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum.

The acute environmental situation associated with the current state of rivers attracts the attention of the general public. Civil society organizations are looking for tools for implementing the ecosystem approach and accounting for ecosystem services in the decision-making process regarding the development of hydropower, as well as in integrated water resources management in the Eastern Partnership countries, and in Azerbaijan in particular. Such an implementation will help assess the true impact of hydropower facilities on the environment.

The seminar participants consider it necessary, within the framework of the ecosystem approach, to pay special attention to the following issues when working with water bodies:

  1. Consider mandatory implementation of the ecosystem approach, taking into account all 12 principles, enshrined in the 1992 epoch-making Convention on the Protection of Biodiversity (Rio de Janeiro), at all levels of work with water bodies and, first of all, when assessing the environmental Impact and creating, and implementing plans for water bodies management;
  2. Pay more attention to the biodiversity issues of any water bodies (rivers, reservoirs, lake canals, etc.) when conducting work on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Whereas ecosystem sustainability is ensured by the high level of biodiversity in them;
  3. Pay more attention to the issues of infectious water pollution by animals – potential carriers of infections;
  4. Pay more attention to issues of transboundary pollution of water bodies, look for ways to solve these problems even in the context of existing international conflicts in the basins of transboundary rivers;
  5. Recognize the need to create appropriate state and public structures at all levels of government and administrative divisions, which would be responsible for the management of water resources in the territories under their management, the creation of appropriate management plans and the implementation of the ecosystem approach in water resources management;
  6. Develop more effective mechanisms for countries of impact origin, responsible for damage caused to ecosystems of basins of transboundary rivers in a transboundary context and in the occupied territories;
  7. Recognize the bilateral Dniester agreements between Ukraine and Moldova as a good example of positive cooperation in the use of transboundary water resources and take measures to create similar structures between other EP countries.

The purpose of the project «Ecosystem approach to hydropower: facilitating the implementation of European requirements for development to the development of hydropower in countries of the Eastern Europe Partnership» is to facilitate the implementation of SEA and EIA procedures as foreseen by the horizontal EU directives and the relevant conventions to which the EaP countries are parties, in order to justify the possibility of implementing plans, programs and projects in the field of hydropower, promotion of the ecosystem approach to hydropower development and integrated water resources management.

 

The project has support of the EаP Civil Society Forum Re-granting Scheme (EaP CSF Re-granting Scheme) and is funded by the European Union as part of its support to civil society in the region. Its findings are the sole responsibility of National Ecological Centre of Ukraine and partners and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union