Promoting Sustainable Dam Development at River-Basin-Scale in the Southern Caucasus (Pilot Phase)

Project Description:
The Southern Caucasus, a global biodiversity hotspot, is covered by a freshwater network of more than 43,000 rivers and 7 Ramsar Sites. The ecoregion harbours more than 70 fish species (at least 14 endemics). However, unsustainable development of dams and HP is disrupting environmental flows at river-basin-scale. This negatively impacts on habitat connectivity and conditions, species interactions, water quality. As knock-on effects biodiversity and ecosystem services degrade. While renewable hydropower is pivotal for mitigating climate change, the sustainability of all dams and HPP combined at river-basin-scale has not been assessed yet and is at question. Though the Southern Caucasus countries have high potential for hydropower development it poses a high cumulative threat to biodiversity/ecosystem services.

The complete prevention of the cumulative negative impacts on environmental flows, consequently on biodiversity and ecosystem services, occurred as a result of HPP exploration, is possible exceptionally in case of the river-basin-scale work on whole level. This will also significantly reduce the related reputational and financial risks for investors.

This regional project is being implemented by the WWF-CauPo, WWF Armenia and WWF-Azerbaijan in the Kura-Aras River Basin (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia) and the Black Sea Catchment Basin (Georgia).

This project is a pilot phase of the initiative on sustainable dam and HPP development. The pilot phase aims to mobilize key stakeholders and ensure their support, which will serve as a foundation for this initiative.

The second phase will be focused on dispersal of the sustainable dam and HPP development across the region.

Project objective(s):
To secure stakeholders acknowledgement on the need to promote best practices for dams and HPP to safeguard biodiversity and ecosystem services for local people at river-basin-scale, and have established a regional initiative on sustainable dam and HPP development.

Project Expected Deliverables:
1. Government/Stakeholders Engagement is secured
  • analysis of investors/donor agencies are conducted
  • country level advisory group is formed and operationalized
  • regional round table of the key stakeholders is conducted
  • Caucasus Sustainable Dams Initiative (CSDI) is launched under the umbrella of Caucasus Biodiversity Council.
2. Biodiversity/Ecosystem Services of Freshwater Networks are recognized by Stakeholders
  • Desk studies on assessment of biodiversity/ecosystem services of rivers are conducted
  • National expert workshops to review and complement the data of studies are conducted
  • High-profile publication on the results is launched
3. Sustainable Dams Assessment and Planning Methodology is agreed
  • Expert review of existing methodologies is conducted
  • Methodological approach suitable for the Southern Caucasus is agreed at the regional stakeholder meeting.
Funding Organization / Donor:
Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA)

Implementing Organization:

Project Implementation Location:
Kura-Araqs river basin

Project Duration:

For Further Information:
Mr. Karen Karapetyan
Project Coordinator
Tel: (+374 10) 54 61 56 (ext. 17)

Mr. Gera Voskanyan
Partnership & Communications Manager
Tel: (+374 10) 54 61 56 (ext. 14)

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