The International Hydropower Association (IHA) is a non-profit membership association. We are the global voice for sustainable hydropower.
Why we must live our values
The International Hydropower Association (IHA) and its members work to advance sustainable hydropower. We believe that sustainable hydropower is a clean, green, modern and affordable solution to climate change.
We know that there is no viable pathway to net zero by 2050 without significantly more hydropower being built around the world.
We also know that unless our sector demonstrates that hydropower can be developed and operated sustainably, it will not gain the trust of investors, government and, most importantly, communities.
As the oldest and largest of the renewables, hydropower has learned the lessons about how energy projects should, and shouldn’t, be built.
Hydropower is the first and only renewable energy technology to produce a globally accepted standard for certifying the sustainability of projects. The Hydropower Sustainability Standard is developed and managed by the Hydropower Sustainability Council, a multistakeholder body that includes civil society organisations and other stakeholders outside the sector.
Going forward, the only acceptable hydropower is sustainable hydropower. The way to demonstrate sustainability is by following the Hydropower Sustainability Standard.
A global call to action
IHA provides a platform for a community of leading companies and other organisations committed to deliver sustainable hydropower. It is a community built around a common set of values and principles.
At the World Hydropower Congress in September 2021, the San José Declaration on Sustainable Hydropower was issued as a global call to action. Supported by a broad range of stakeholders, the San José Declaration includes principles, commitments and recommendations to decision-makers.
“Sustainable hydropower is a clean, green, modern and affordable solution to climate change. Going forward, the only acceptable hydropower is sustainable hydropower.”
- San José Declaration on Sustainable Hydropower
No go commitment
Furthermore, at the IUCN World Conservation Congress on 6 September 2021, IHA announced a historic no-go commitment on any future development by its members in UNESCO-designated World Heritage Sites, as well as a duty-of-care requirement for hydropower companies seeking to build new projects in legally designated Protected Areas.
Values backed by actions
IHA’s members account for more than a third of global hydropower capacity (450 GW). Members are supported to demonstrate sustainable hydropower in practice by: building projects in line with the Hydropower Sustainability Guidelines; measuring the carbon emissions of their facilities; certifying their projects to the Hydropower Sustainability Standard; and training their staff on sustainability.
As of 1 April 2022, companies wishing to join IHA need to demonstrate their alignment with our values before being accepted as members by:
1. Expressing their support for the San José Declaration on Sustainable Hydropower
2. Submitting a Sustainability Disclosure Form annually to help track progress on sustainability over time
3. Confirming their alignment with the no-go commitment on World Heritage Sites with duty of care for Protected Areas
4. Confirming that they are not disbarred or placed on the exclusion list of any international institution or major institutional investor with a global mandate
Establishing a threshold for membership limits the risk of hydropower projects and activities that are contrary to IHA’s values. So does increased transparency through annual submissions of the Sustainability Disclosure Form.
When there are grounds to reconsider a member’s alignment with our common values, IHA will engage directly with the member to address the challenge. Triggers include a decision by a major institutional investor to disbar a member company or a credible concern that a member is not complying with the commitment on protected areas. Refusing to submit a Sustainability Disclosure Form may also indicate that the member is not aligned with our values.
Where direct engagement does not lead to change, the IHA Board may initiate an evidence-based dialogue with clear expectations and timelines. Where the concern relates to a specific project, the first step would normally be to require that the project be certified under the Hydropower Sustainability Standard.
The objective of the evidence-based dialogue is to bring the member back into alignment with the values of the association and its members. Should best efforts fail, the IHA Board may decide that the company’s actions are not consistent with membership of IHA. The company’s membership will then be revoked.
The IHA Charter
The IHA Charter for Sustainable Hydropower preceded the San José Declaration. Announced on the occasion of IHA’s 25th anniversary, the Charter recognised the crucial and multifaceted role that hydropower can play when delivered sustainably and confirmed the association’s expectations of its members.