Viewpoint -€“ The role of the German development cooperation in promoting sustainable hydropower

Cathleen Seeger
Policy Advisor, German Technical Cooperation (GTZ), Eschborn, Germany; cathleen.seeger@gtz.de
Kirsten Nyman
Project Coordinator, German Technical Cooperation (GTZ), Eschborn, Germany; kirsten.nyman@gtz.de
Richard Twum
Executive Director, Volta Basin Development Foundation (VBDF), Accra, Ghana; rtwumus@yahoo.com

ABSTRACT: After long and intense discussions on the recommendations of the World Commission on Dams (WCD), large dams are back on the agenda of international finance institutions. Asia, Latin America and Africa are planning to expand their hydropower utilisation. Hydropower is a key component of renewable energy, and therefore supports protection against climate change. Water storage over the long term and flood control are the main issues discussed with regard to climate adaptation measures.

Such trends are reflected by the increasing engagement of the German Development Cooperation (GDC) in the field of integrated water resources management (IWRM) programmes on the national and regional levels. A number of projects on transboundary water management in Africa, Central Asia and in the Mekong region have been initiated. In the context of these and other bilateral water and energy projects, partner countries are increasingly requesting the GDC to advise on the planning and management of sustainable hydropower.

The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has for the last decade been known as a promoter of multi-stakeholder dialogues and as a supporter during the WCD process and the Dams and Development Project (DDP) of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). In addition, it has a reputation as an important bilateral and neutral partner. The BMZ recognises hydropower as a source of renewable energy, and acknowledges the potential and need for multipurpose usages of dams, as well as its role in global energy change. However, large dams also have to meet social and ecological requirements for their sustainable use. In this respect, the BMZ endorsed the WCD recommendations.

Germany'™s engagement in the promotion of participatory processes on dam-related issues is building on the WCD and follow-up processes, as outlined in this article. On the global level, BMZ, represented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), is currently part of the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Forum (HSAF). On the national level, one example of support is the contribution to and interaction with the Ghana Dam Dialogue, which is facilitated through two local partners: the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and the Volta Basin Development Foundation (VBDF).