Partner Session

Is hydropower a ‘game changer’?
Whose water (in)security and whose justice with changing climate in South Asia?


Date and time (ICT) To be decided by conference organizers
Partner Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati
Associate partner(s) University of Geneva

IHE Delft Water and Development Partnership Programme (DUPC)

  1. Why hydropower development across South Asia is a subject of public and state controversy?
  2. How does size of the hydropower projects influence water (in)security issues in South Asia? What are the alternatives to hydropower development in South Asia given the present and future climate risks?
  3. How can we ensure to achieve social and water justice for the marginalized community? Who captures the positive impacts, and who incurs the negative impacts?
  4. Can cooperation between countries sharing transboundary rivers reduce the social and environmental impacts?


Despite being rich in water resources, South Asia remains water insecure, energy-poor, and food-deficient. With rising water and energy demands, the Ukraine war and rising oil prices, the need for low-carbon energy development, hydropower development seems to be the most suitable solution for South Asia’s water and energy future. The argument favoring multipurpose hydropower is that it contributes significantly to climate change mitigation and could play an essential role in climate change adaptation with water resource availability. But the untapped hydropower potential of South Asia has always been an issue of resentment among environmentalists, civil society. and citizens, mainly due to the high environmental risk associated with large dams, poorly conducted environmental and social impact assessments as well as lack of attention on the issue of water equity and justice.

While hydropower development is back on the political agenda in South Asia as it seems to be a politically viable solution given each country international climate commitment as well as water and energy needs, it is important to ensure that such development does come with water and social justice. Hence in this session we aim to discuss the social, political, economic, and technological implications of hydropower development in South Asia, given that while hydropower projects, besides energy, can provide security for irrigation, drinking water supply, flood control, and navigation, it may also lead to water insecurity for marginalized groups, facing the wrath of social and environmental impacts. The session will also bring in the role of power asymmetry and the power interplay between countries, as it often pose as a challenge to regional cooperation and integration, particularly regarding negotiations of power purchase agreements.

Speakers Prof. Arup Kumar Sarma
Mr. Malik FidaDr. Wangling Weng
Mr. Saad Tamaad
Ms. Srijana Bhattarai
Mr. Joydeep Gupta
Dr. Partha J Das
Mode of delivery In-person (to be confirmed)
Contact person Prof. Anamika Barua