Project Description

A Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the Hydropower Sector in Myanmar

Donor/Partner: International Finance Corporation (IFC)    |    Duration: 2016-2018   |    Location: Myanmar

About: The aim of the SEA for the hydropower sector in Myanmar is to identify and achieve broad consensus on a balanced, equitable and sustainable development pathway for hydropower in Myanmar over the next 20 years. That would be achieved by providing adequate baseline environmental and social information, involving stakeholders in establishing development priorities, screening pipeline hydropower project proposals based on significant river and watershed values, describing potential impacts and by framing a preferred sustainable hydropower development pathway.

Vision: Sustainable hydropower development based on integrated water, land and ecosystem planning, balancing a range of natural resource uses and priorities to achieve economic development, environmental sustainability and social equity.

  • The main objectives of the SEA are to:
  • Understand and analyze the current state of hydropower development in Myanmar – related government policy and plans, existing projects and the likely business-as-usual hydropower development pathway;
  • Ensure hydropower meets growth targets with the least environmental and social impact and greatest benefit by helping avoid delays and increased costs;
  • Provide adequate environmental and social baseline information to inform consultation/dialogue with decision makers and other stakeholders and assist with the development of government policy and plans;
  • Involve decision makers and key stakeholders in establishing development priorities and influencing them to agree on a common set of priorities to achieve sustainable hydropower development;
  • Screen pipeline hydropower project proposals based on significant river and watershed values to provide environmental and social risk profiles by rating river stretches/sub-basins on significant existing environmental and social values that may be compromised by hydropower project development;
  • Describe the environmental and social impact of hydropower projects to date and into the future;
  • Frame a preferred sustainable hydropower development pathway that optimizes environmental, social and economic outcomes in line with decision makers’ and stakeholders’ priorities; and
  • Recommend appropriate policy and plans (and supporting studies) that make trade-offs to achieve sustainable hydropower development, ecosystem protection and local natural resource use, accounting for institutional and policy constraints to mainstreaming environmental and social considerations into hydropower planning and development.

The SEA is required as the initial step to provide a basin-wide context to the rapidly expanding list of power project proposals in Myanmar.

  • The key expected outcomes of the SEA are:
  1. A more informed and improved dialogue between stakeholders;
  2. A greater understanding by decision makers and other stakeholders of the range of stakeholder values and priorities that need to be taken into account in formulating the sustainable hydropower development pathway;
  3. An environmental and social rating of pipeline project proposals;
  4. A shared development pathway that accounts for stakeholder priorities;
  5. Clear recommendations on policies, procedures and plans required to plan hydropower, trading off different values and outcomes; and
  6. Clear recommendations and additional baseline data gathering required to fill key information gaps.

The SEA will enable identification of river stretches and values which should be maintained without hydropower development.  It will also identify river reaches and sub-basins which, because of existing development and other disturbance, may be suitable for hydropower projects if specified sustainability standards and safeguards are met.