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Sustainable Socio-Economic Development Through Hydropower - A Priority For Sarawak
BEIJING, 21st MAY 2015, THURSDAY: The contribution of hydropower towards the rapid socio-economic development of Sarawak was clearly outlined at the 2015 World Hydropower Congress, organised by the International Hydropower Association (IHA) here.
At a plenary session entitled “Development versus Sustainability: How can we find the right balance?”, Sarawak Energy’s Group CEO Datuk Torstein Dale Sjotveit told the congress on Wednesday that developed countries should support, rather than obstruct, developing countries’ sustainable hydropower development.
“Failure to develop is not sustainable. Keeping people poor is just not sustainable,” he said to applause from the audience.
“The disparity in wealth distribution between the developed and developing nations is increasing. For instance, 73% of the global income goes to only 14% of the world’s population. This is not sustainable.
“And 18% of the global population consumes 45% of the world’s energy. This is also not sustainable,” he said.
Torstein also brought up CO2 emissions for which developed nations account for 76% of the world’s greenhouse gases.
“It is not fair to ask the five billion of the world’s population in the developing countries to clean up the mess we (rich countries) have created over the last 200 years. It is the developed countries with the knowledge, resources and money to do so. It is a well acknowledged principle that ‘The polluter pays’”.
“Hydropower projects have contributed to the wealth of developed nations for more than 100 years and in the developed world, 98% of this (hydropower) development was not done in a sustainable manner. The developed world has never followed the stringent rules they now lay out for the developing world” he said.
“In contrast, Sarawak Energy is guided by the IHA’s Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol in the development of its hydropower projects. As such, it is ironic that critics from the developed nations would object to Sarawak’s quest to progress through hydropower when their own development was done without much consideration to sustainability.”
Datuk Torstein’s remarks were broadly aligned with those from several high profile panelists namely Mr. Giulio Boccaletti, Global Managing Director for Water, The Nature Conservancy, Mr. Bernard Barandereka, Energy Expert, African Union Commission, Mr. Zhou Jianping, Chief Engineer, Power China and Mr. Jamie Skinner, Water Team Leader, International Institute for Environment and Development. The session was moderated by Mr. Doug Smith, Sustainability Specialist, IHA.
A delegation from Sarawak Energy led by Torstein is attending the three-day 2015 World Hydropower Congress, a global premier event where hydropower leaders and experts converge. The conference aimed at advancing sustainable hydropower started on Tuesday at the Kempinski Yanqi Lake complex here.