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Press Release: HYDROPOWER EUROPE hosts a roundtable for European NGOs

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On the 19th of January 2021, over 20 representatives from non-governmental organisations met together with the HYDROPOWER EUROPE Forum to address the environmental and socio-economic challenges that European countries are facing at an online roundtable. 

HYDROPOWER EUROPE organised a roundtable for European NGOs aiming at exchanging experience about hydropower from their respective countries in order to collect useful inputs for the Research and Innovation Agenda and the Strategic Industry Roadmap documents drafted within the project.

Listening to all stakeholders of European hydropower is an essential prerogative of HYDROPOWER EUROPE. In the aftermath of the European Green Deal, the project consortium sees the need of balancing views of all players including NGOs to ensure that hydropower can be used to its full potential while ensuring sustainability and low impact to the communities and ecosystems.

The roundtable was organised by EASE in collaboration with HYDROPOWER EUROPE partners who actively participated in moderating the morning and afternoon sessions. The introduction words were given by the project coordinator and ICOLD – EPFL president, Anton Schleiss, who presented HYDROPOWER EUROPE and its goal to listen to the challenges that NGOs are facing with regards to hydropower.

Session 1 – Geographical regions 

Moderated by Jean Jacques Fry, project coordinator, EUCOLD

NGO Pishtaret (Kosovo) – EcoZone (Kosovo) – Coalition Clean Baltic and Polish Academy of Science (Poland and Baltic countries)

Session 2 - Ecosystems

Moderated by Hendrik Multhaupt, VGB PowerTech

Defense des Milieux Aquatiques (France) - Federazione Nazionale Pro Natura (Italy) 

Session 3 – Fauna and Biodiversity

Moderated by Andrej Misech, EUREC

Revivo (Slovenia) – Societas Europaea Herpetologica (EU reach) – NABU (EU reach)

Session 4 – Geographical regions

Moderated by Martin Bracken, EASE

CIPRA International (Alpine countries) – Kosovo Foundation for Open Society (Kosovo) – Sustainability Leadership Kosovo (Kosovo) – Balkan Green Foundation (Western Balkans)

Session 5 – Fauna and Biodiversity

Moderated by Anton Schleiss, project coordinator, ICOLD - EPFL

Fisheries Association of the Alps (Alpine countries) – Fishing Association of Slovenia (Slovenia) – Friends of the Earth (Germany)

Session 6 – Environment and Society

Moderated by Diana Prsancova, Zabala Innovation Consulting

EcoKos Women (Kosovo) – EKOEnergy ecolabel (EU reach) – Arnika (Czech Republic)

After each thematic session, participants had the chance to discuss the contents exposed, ask questions and deepen certain topics of interest. The outcomes of presentations and discussions will be processed by the HYDROPOWER EUROPE Consortium. The Research and Innovation Agenda and the Strategic Industry Roadmap will address the need that future hydropower development takes into account relevant environmental and socio-economic challenges faced by society.

Discussed recommendations

NGOs recommended that the existing hydropower facilities are modernized and their capacity and energy generation expanded while minimizing ecological impacts. The efficiency of existing hydropower projects shall be improved. New water infrastructure should be assessed on relative risks and trade-offs for including alternative energy options and options for increasing energy efficiency. 

The representatives from the NGOs suggested that a healthy and thriving river is not possible without a plan to include climate mitigation and adaptation measures that build long-term resilience to climate change in its freshwater ecosystems. Hydropower plants should be developed in suitable locations, outside national parks and reserves and where environmental impact is minimal. There is an importance for fully functional fish migration structures associated with all hydropower plants. 

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