Sustainable development is a shared responsibility. Accelerating sustainability of water–energy–people nexus and building a common awareness of issues pertaining to sustainable development are essential for any sort of success in this direction. Hydropower has been a useful sustainable energy for development, yet highly controversial. This paper reviews the overall situation of hydropower development and China’s energy reforms and policies, accompanied with a case study of hydropower development the Lancang River by the HydroLancang, aiming to illustrate the two opposite sides of hydropower development—economy and environment. The paper concludes with a neutral view of hydropower as the necessary facilitator for development. Water is a shared responsibility. Hydropower might not be the optimum solution to eliminate the tension between human demand of energy and finite natural resource and the rising pressure of climate change worldwide, but it serves well as an “Electricity Bridge” before better alternatives become available. This is a more balanced view of hydropower rather than two extreme viewpoints that present themselves: on the one hand, exaggerated claims of the human power to tame the wild river, and, on the other hand, the idealistic fantasy of preserving nature by abandoning all human activity.
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