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Better Hydro

The Better Hydro initiative showcases proven good practice in sustainable hydropower, and contributes to the development of research and policy frameworks to support hydropower’s contribution to global sustainable development.

Better Hydro consists of three task areas: 

  • better information – relating to IHA’s research in areas such as clean energy systems, greenhouse gas monitoring, climate resilience and adaptation, finance and investment, sediment management, etc. 
  • better policies – relating to preparation facilities, markets and incentives
  • better examples – showcasing high-scoring projects under the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol and other more general initiatives

One of the main outcomes of the Better Hydro initiative is a compendium of case studies launched at the 2017 World Hydropower Congress in Addis Ababa and available for download on Thursday 11 May. These examples demonstrate excellence in specific aspects of sustainable hydropower development, and are based on assessments carried out under the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol. 

Topic case studies focus on specific aspects of development, such as ‘indigenous people’, ‘cultural heritage’, ‘economic viability’, and ‘water quality’ (23 are covered in total). In addition, the publication features five project-wide case studies that cover a broad geographical scope and focus on different stages of project development. Finally, six more general initiatives demonstrating innovative local and regional approaches are also detailed. 

You can download Better Hydro: Compendium of Case Studies 2017 here.

About the protocol

The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol, is a reference framework that enables the development of a full sustainability profile of a hydropower project, with a team of accredited assessors evaluating the sustainability of a project against more than 20 social, environmental, technical and economic topics.

It provides an international common language on how these considerations can be addressed at all stages of a project's lifestyle: planning, preparation, implementation and operation. Protocol assessments use objective evidence to identify gaps and drive continuous improvement.

The protocol has been implemented in 20 official assessments in all regions of the world, with many more informal applications also taking place. Learn more at