Norway's Role in Global Hydropower

FIVAS and International Rivers
Wednesday, August 29, 2012

After a downturn during the 1990s, global investments in hydropower infrastructure have begun to rise. Governments and financiers have strongly pushed for hydropower to play a central role in “green growth” strategies, claiming that large dams are the best option to achieve sustainable development’s triple bottom line of economic growth, social inclusion, and environmental protection.

Norway’s experience in developing its own hydropower sector has turned the country into a protagonist and key driver of the international hydropower industry.  Norway has applied many lessons from its own experience to financial, technical, and policy support abroad, to both the public and private sector.  Yet, these lessons have not prevented Norwegian investors from becoming embroiled in controversial projects, in Ethiopia, Brazil, Chile, or Malaysia

In a joint report with FIVAS - The Association for International Water Studies, called “In Our Image: Norway’s Role in the Global Hydropower Industry” we survey Norway’s diverse forms of support for the global hydropower sector, and examine some of its surrounding controversies.  The report presents the scope of Norwegian state and public actors involved in hydropower internationally, including  publicly-owned Statkraft and the state development finance institution Norfund. It concludes that Norway's prevailing tendency for technical support is not sufficient to avoid harm in the hydropower industry, and that instead, an explicitly political approach is necessary.  The report presents recommendations for Norway to improve the social and environmental performance of the hydropower sector, and to promote a greater transition to cleaner, less controversial forms of support.

Download "In Our Image: Norway's Role in the Global Hydropower Industry" (979kb)