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A Global Network of Sustainable Water and Energy Solutions, led by Itaipu Binacional and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, was launched during the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP 24) in Poland.

The network is the result of an agreement signed between the two organisations in March 2018. It will create a platform for sharing knowledge and good practices on integrated approaches for delivering Sustainable Development Goals 6 (clean water and sanitation) and 7 (affordable and clean energy).

The initiative is supported by the International Hydropower Association (IHA), with Chief Executive Richard Taylor joining as a member of the partnership’s steering committee.

At the launch event in the Polish city of Katowice on 4 December 2018, UN DESA Under-Secretary-General Liu Zhenmin stated that water and energy are interconnected and crucial issues for the achievement of the SDGs.

In South America, for example, the availability of water has a direct relationship with energy generation, since hydropower accounts for more than 80 per cent of electricity supply. At the same time, the process of treatment and supply of drinking water is highly dependent on electricity.

Mr Liu drew attention to the fact that 1 billion people in the world do not have access to electricity, and 2.1 billion people lack access to water at home.

"The next decade is a window of opportunity for the international community to take action on these issues and to make significant progress. In this scenario, an integrated approach to SDGs 6 and 7 is a powerful tool," said Mr Liu. "And Itaipu is an example of this, as I personally witnessed last May when I visited the plant,” he added.

Itaipu, a member of IHA, was represented at the launch by financial directors, Mário Cecato (Brazil) and Monica Perez dos Santos (Paraguay), who emphasised the company's commitment to sharing its experiences in promoting development, biodiversity conservation, poverty reduction, and income generation

"This partnership with UN DESA is closely linked to our company. Water and energy are key issues for Itaipu's activities", said Mr Cecato. "It is from the water and energy care that Itaipu demonstrates its commitment to promoting economic, social and environmental development, both in Brazil and in Paraguay,” Ms Perez added.

Mr Taylor said the International Hydropower Association was committed to supporting the initiative. "There are very few examples, such as Itaipu, where the commitment to sustainable development is central to all its activities”, Mr Taylor said. “So we have to learn from these examples. For the sake of our future generations, the time to act is now."

Itaipu is also a strategic partner for the World Hydropower Congress, which is organised by IHA and hosted by UNESCO in Paris. Registration for the biennial event, held between 14 and 16 May 2019, is now open.

Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UNFCCC, was among those to welcome the launch of the global partnership. “It’s a unique and positive way forward - one that not only promotes water and energy sustainability, but advances the SDGs as well,” she said.

“Your goal is clear: to grow this global network over time to become one of the largest multi-stakeholder-based knowledge networks on water and energy. You also recognise the influential and defining role that climate change plays in this as well. We appreciate your work, your partnership and the results you’ve achieved so far. Never have we needed this work like now.”

Ms Espinosa added: “Governments alone cannot solve climate change. We need all people on board if we’re to truly make a difference.”

How it works

The network's proposal is to attract other organisations, governments and companies working with an integrated approach between water and energy. To join the platform, UN DESA is asking interested parties to produce case studies about their practices. After a review by the UN body, the studies will be made available online.

For more information please contact: and or complete the contact form on the UN DESA website.

10 December 2018

Young engineers and scientists researching hydropower, water and energy systems can now apply for the International Hydropower Association’s prestigious Young Researcher of the Year award.

The 2019 award, which recognises and rewards emerging talent in academia and the hydropower sector, will be presented at the World Hydropower Congress in Paris, 14-16 May 2019

Open to academic researchers aged under 30, entrants are invited to submit a short article summarising their work (no more than 1,500 words). The subject must be relevant to at least one of the topics under discussion at the upcoming World Hydropower Congress.

The winner will receive a year’s individual membership with IHA and free registration to the 2019 Congress, where they will be invited to present their research. Those who make the shortlist will have their articles published on the IHA website.

IHA’s Chief Executive Richard Taylor said: “The IHA Young Researcher Award provides an opportunity for young innovators to share their research with key representatives from the hydropower sector, government, financial and academic institutions and civil society. It is a rare chance to bring specialist research findings to the attention of policy-makers from around the world.”

The award was first presented at the 2015 World Hydropower Congress in Beijing, China, where it was won by Sami Khan of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his work on hydrophobic rare-earth oxide coatings and their potential application in hydropower systems.

It was awarded again at the 2017 World Hydropower Congress in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The recipients were Alexandros Korkovelos of KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sara Mercier-Blais of the University of Quebec in Montreal and Rafael Schmitt of UC Berkeley.

Since winning the award, Dr Schmitt has become Lead Hydrologist and a postdoctoral researcher at The Natural Capital Project at Stanford University. He referred to the experience as a “pivotal moment” for his research.

“The World Hydropower Congress exposed me to real-world challenges and led me to direct my research towards decision-relevant research questions. The network I established during the Congress has led to ongoing collaborations and research opportunities with key actors in the hydropower sector,” said Dr Schmitt.

This sentiment was echoed by Ms Mercier-Blais, for whom the Congress was a “first step” into the hydropower sector. “By attending different panel sessions, I learned about many subjects, which has helped me to better understand the context I am now working with.”

The 2019 World Hydropower Congress will focus on hydropower’s role in delivering the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals. It is expected to bring together representatives from more than 100 countries.

To qualify, entrants must have been born after 31 December 1988 and must be affiliated with an academic institution. To find out more about the IHA Young Researcher Award, including the full entry criteria, visit

Register for the 2019 World Hydropower Congress

11 October 2018

More than 70 senior hydropower decision-makers came together for an IHA workshop to share experiences and look at tools to improve project performance and address issues such as climate change and digitalisation.

The workshop, which took place on 19 September 2018, was hosted in partnership with UNESCO at its headquarters in Paris, France.

During the workshop, IHA gave a presentation about new draft climate resilience guidelines for the hydropower sector which are being tested by IHA and its members in partnership with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank.

The guidelines aim to incorporate climate change resilience and hydrological risk management into hydropower project appraisal, design, construction and operation, resulting in more robust and resilient projects.

María Ubierna, Senior Hydropower Sector Analyst at IHA, said the guidelines would address the needs of the hydropower sector, wider financial community, policy makers and local communities. “These guidelines will help project owners and developers to go step by step to ensure that projects are resilient. There were no guidelines on this previously,” she said.

Dr Gabriel Azevedo, Chief of the Environmental, Social & Governance Division at IDB Invest, commented: “We think these guidelines can help a lot - we hope to be applying them to a few projects in the coming months.”

On the subject of digitalisation and data gathering, Stela Nenova, Corporate Affairs Advisor at ENTSO-E, said: “It’s very important, when talking about data and decision-making, that we gather good quality data and make tools openly available. Hydropower generators can help by providing better data and better access to data.”

Dr Óli Sveinsson, Executive Vice President of Research & Development at Landsvirkjun, highlighted the importance of data monitoring at hydropower infrastructure in tandem with visual inspections. “Using data efficiently requires a number of steps - in our case, investing in these steps has been highly rewarding.”

This sentiment was echoed by Daniel Paschini, Director of EDF-GEH’s Maurienne hydro business unit, who also remarked that although decision-makers can now benefit from computerised models and ‘big data’ processing, these technologies “cannot replace human intelligence, good organisation or skilled staff.”

During another session, speakers presented several tools which can help decision-makers with the reporting and benchmarking of sustainability practices at all stages of project development.

João Costa, IHA Sustainability Specialist, gave a presentation on the internationally recognised Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol, which has been expanded to cover an assessment of a project’s resilience to climate change, and the Environmental, Social and Governance Gap Analysis (ESG) Tool, which was launched in July this year.  

The Protocol and ESG Tool provide decision-makers with the “knowledge, evidence and structure to allow them to make decisions in an informed way,” Mr Costa said.

Dr Julien Harou, Chair in Water Engineering at the University of Manchester, commented that the Protocol was “ahead of the game” and “looks at how hydropower can become, socially, environmentally and economically, a responsible and proactive player.”

Participants also learned about the GHG Reservoir (G-res) Tool, which allows project stakeholders to report on the carbon footprint of a reservoir. “The G-res Tool provides a more efficient and accurate non-field sampling way to assess the greenhouse gas emissions from reservoirs,” said Sara Mercier-Blais, Research Associate at Université du Québec à Montréal.

Richard Taylor, IHA’s Chief Executive, closed the workshop by saying: “We’ve always had to make decisions under uncertainty, but it’s important to be able to explain why we make the decisions we do, and we need to work together to find solutions.” 

The workshop is part of a series of events leading up to the 2019 World Hydropower Congress between 14-16 May 2019. The next workshop in the series looks at hydropower financing under climate change on 30 January 2019 in London, UK. For more information, visit the workshop's web page or to register your interest contact

Visit the event webpage for more information about this Paris workshop.

1 October 2018 

With benefits including reduced operation and maintenance costs, and enhanced data analysis and project management, the digitalisation of hydropower projects and their control systems is a growing trend in the industry.

A recent workshop organised by the the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) with support from the International Hydropower Association (IHA) explored how digital systems are advancing the operations, maintenance and modernisation of hydropower projects.

Hosted by the Joint Technical Commission of Salto Grande between 27 and 28 August 2018 at the Salto Grande hydroelectric complex, a major binational hydropower project on the Uruguay River between Argentina and Uruguay, the workshop looked at how to plan and implement digitalisation processes into hydropower projects. More than 130 people attended including representatives of IHA member and partner organisations based in South America, North and Central America, Asia and Europe.

“This workshop was a great opportunity to start a dialogue about the digitalisation of hydropower in Latin America, where hydro still provides around half of the electricity,” said Arturo Alarcón, Senior Regional Energy Specialist at IDB. “Digitalisation is the new reality for the sector. The faster we embrace it, the sooner we will get its benefits.”

Research by IHA forecasts that, by 2030, over half of the world’s hydropower plants will be due for upgrade and modernisation or will have already been renovated.

“Digitalisation provides an opportunity to optimise the design, development and operation of hydropower assets,” said IHA’s Chief Executive Richard Taylor. “It was great to bring together so many IHA members to share their experience and plans – the workshop was a hugely valuable forum to learn about the opportunities digitalisation can bring to the sector.”

One of the participants, Nuno Guedes, Area Director at Energias de Portugal (EDP), spoke about a recent contract signed with GE for a five-year asset management and digitalisation programme at several EDP hydropower plants in Portugal and Spain. “With these digital tools we expect to have more capability of analysing the data of these plants and to better decide how to invest and control their lifecycles,” he said.

Workshop participants had the chance to visit the Salto Grande hydroelectric complex. The project’s operator has been reviewing how new digital technology can provide performance improvements for the plant, which has been in operation since 1982.

The IHA-IDB workshop is part of a series of events leading up to the 2019 World Hydropower Congress between 14-16 May 2019.

IHA also addressed digitalisation, climate change and sustainability at a workshop in Paris, France, on 19 September 2018. To find out more, visit the event webpage.

Last week IDB and IHA signed a partnership agreement to support sustainable development involving hydropower across Latin America and the Caribbean. Read more.

13 September 2018

Experienced professionals working in the hydropower community can now apply to become a Fellow of the International Hydropower Association (IHA).

IHA, a not-for-profit organisation committed to advancing sustainable hydropower, is launching Fellow membership to acknowledge the valuable contributions of professionals at the forefront of the sector’s development.

IHA Fellows (left to right) Gil Maranhão Neto F.IHA, Chief Strategy, Communications and CSR Officer at Engie Brasil; Christine Cantin F.IHA, Senior Advisor at Hydro-Québec; and Moisés Machava F.IHA, Executive Director of Hydroélectrica de Cahora Bassa.
Announcing the new initiative, Richard Taylor, Chief Executive of IHA, said: “Since IHA was formed more than 20 years ago we have championed continuous improvement and sustainable practices in the hydropower sector. In offering Fellow membership, we are seeking to recognise senior professionals who, through their service and commitment, have moved the sector forward and been an inspiration to others.”
IHA Fellow status, under which an individual is entitled to use the letters ‘F.IHA’ as a professional title, is awarded on the basis of proven experience and provides an opportunity to join a global network of hydropower experts from all regions of the world.

Fellows of IHA will have the opportunity to contribute their wealth of knowledge, experience and ideas to IHA’s work and programmes, in support of its mission to advance sustainable hydropower, and will receive invitations to special events including dedicated online groups, expert panels and webinars.
To qualify, an individual must share a commitment to the values and mission of IHA and have at least five years’ experience in a senior management position in the hydropower sector, or 10 years’ experience in a specialist field relating to hydropower. The individual must be a current member of IHA.
Applicants are required to submit an application form summarising how their professional experience meets the eligibility criteria. The individual must also provide two supporting professional referees. There is no fee for Fellow membership: F.IHA status is awarded on merit alone.
To find out more and to apply to become a Fellow of IHA, visit