End of year message from IHA Chief Executive Eddie Rich

Dear friends,

2021 was a decisive year for the sustainable hydropower community to reawaken “the forgotten giant of green electricity”. I feel a sense of awe and pride at the list of achievements in the Year in Review. We launched the first ever Sustainability Standard for a renewable sector, published the reports of the high-level International Forum on Pumped Storage and the Hydropower 2050 report, and made ground-breaking commitments on developments in World Heritage Sites and Protected Areas.

There are early signs that our efforts may be starting to make a difference. For example, global references to hydropower on the internet increased by 86% in 2021, compared to the year before. Whilst we should not read too much into these numbers and many of these references will have been negative, these are the kind of metrics we would expect to see more of over the coming years. And we will continue to focus on turning this increased coverage into better policies and more investment in sustainable hydropower.

IHA’s stakeholders have been at the forefront of this change, helping us demonstrate that as a sector we need to be green, modern, sustainable and progressive. It is thanks to our stakeholders that IHA was named the 2021 International Association of the Year. On behalf of all of us at IHA, thank you.

We now need to turn these foundations into meaningful change. To succeed, we need three things from you:

  1. Support the San José Declaration on Sustainable Hydropower. We are trying to transform the outlook for sustainable hydropower. This will not happen without high-level support, both within your organisation and in your engagement with stakeholders.
  2. Certify hydropower projects against the Hydropower Sustainability Standard. A priority for us will be to help promote progressive, modern and responsible hydropower development. You might wish to use the how-to guides and training to address any sustainability issues and our members are expected to respect our commitments on World Heritage Sites and Protected Areas. Please flag with us any projects of potential concern.
  3. Lend your voice to ours. If we are going to convince decision-makers that our sector needs to be heard alongside other renewables such as wind and solar, we need to continue to share information about sustainable hydropower's contribution to society and the environment. This will not happen without an ambitious collective effort.

If investments in sustainable hydropower are to grow enough for climate change to be averted, we need to do this and more.

Fortunately, we have reasons to be optimistic. The 2021 World Hydropower Congress showed that hydropower has a good story to tell. Our unprecedented engagement in COP26 shows that we are building strong relations with influential partners who see the value of sustainable hydropower and who are heard when they speak on its behalf.

Mobilising the sustainable hydropower community towards common values instead of concentrating on delivering benefits for our members was a risky strategy when it was first agreed by the IHA Board in May of 2020, but it is paying off.

We have the foundations in place, but we still have a long way to go. We look forward to the journey and are grateful to be working with you.

Have a safe and peaceful new year.

Eddie Rich

Take a look at a visual timeline of hydropower highlights from 2021

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