This 2019 World Hydropower Congress (WHC), convened by the International Hydropower Association – IHA will take place in Paris from May 14th – 16th. According to the IHA, this year’s congress will focus on hydropower’s role in “Delivering the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals”, with the slogan ‘The Power of Water in a Sustainable, Interconnected World’.
Considering the legacy of social, environmental and economic costs that have often characterized the implementation of hydroelectric dams, the extent to which such projects constitute solutions or obstacles to delivery of the Paris Climate Agreement and the UN’s Sustainable Goals is a matter that warrants in-depth analysis and public debate involving a variety of interested parties – including governments, scientists, indigenous peoples and movements of dam-affected peoples, environmental and human rights NGOs and the private sector, among others.
As a corporate-led event with prohibitively expensive entrance fees, the 2019 World Hydropower Congress will not provide such an opportunity for such as open dialogue, especially in terms of the participation of indigenous peoples, social movements and other civil society organizations. This conference, parallel to the 2019 World Hydropower Congress, has been organized by a coalition of civil society organizations to help fill this void, stimulating an open public debate on fundamental issues related to hydroelectric dams, the climate crisis, sustainable development and human rights. Special attention has been given to ensuring that the voices of indigenous peoples and other movements of dam-affected communities – normally excluded from decision-making circles and large events such as the World Hydropower Congress – will effectively be heard.