Several multilateral agencies have launched an assessment tool that helps identify the most sustainable sites, designs and operation rules for hydropower development in the lower Mekong River Basin.
The Rapid Basin-wide Hydropower Sustainable Development Tool (RSAT), unveiled by the Asian Development Bank, Mekong River Commission (MRC) and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), allows for hydropower projects to be assessed in a basin-wide context rather than on a case-by-case basis, project developers reported.
The development tool uses existing social, environmental, cultural, economic and financial information about a river basin to make the assessment.
The RSAT seeks to enhance existing tools and processes such as Environmental Impact Assessments and Management Plans instead of replacing them, and works by bringing together different sectors and institutions.
It can be used as a checklist for preliminary assessments, a framework for risk assessment, to facilitate dialogue among different groups and identify capacity-building needs, for training and for skills development.
It complements and builds on a similar project-based tool developed by a multi-stakeholder initiative, the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Forum, and which focuses on the planning, design and operation stages of individual projects.
Germany, Finland and the United States are providing financial support for the initiative.
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