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Abstract: In the next years, the building of 2.000 new small hydro-power plants for the production of “green energy” in the Alps is foreseen by ESHA – the European Small Hydropower Association. In many cases their construction can lead to permanent degradation of important aquatic ecosystems. Because of the present day European policies aimed to promote the development of “clean” energies at all costs, Alpine rivers and streams may pay a too high price on the altar of “development”. To build post-development scenarios, de-growth strategies have to consider alternative approaches to reduce the excessive proliferation of mini-hydro on fragile water ecosystems. Therefore it is necessary to analyse each small hydro-power project in a multidisciplinary perspective, to assess the real economic benefit of these plants as well as their cumulative impacts.

Contribution to the 3rd International Degrowth Conference for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Venice in 2012.