New IHA guide examines environmental and social impact assessments
National permitting and licensing processes require hydropower developers to undertake rigorous assessments and manage the potential negative impacts that come with infrastructure construction.
The International Hydropower Association (IHA) has published a new guide to help practitioners to achieve international industry good practice in environmental and social assessment and management in line with the Hydropower Sustainability Tools.
Achieving good practice on environmental and social issues management involves identifying a project's full range of potential impacts during project preparation and taking steps throughout the project lifecycle to avoid, minimise and mitigate them.
The Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), is an essential step in the approval process by regulators, investors and operators, helping a hydropower project to identify the measures necessary to manage issues of concern to local communities and the environment. Increasing focus is now given to avoiding and minimising impacts by better planning long before the ESIA stage, and to effective implementation of measures through Environmental and Social Management Plans and Systems throughout the life of the project.
The How-to Guide on Environmental and Social Assessment and Management will equip readers with the knowledge of sector specific strategies and methodologies to ensure environmental and social impacts from development are avoided or mitigated effectively. The guide covers topics such as assessment procedures, consultation and public disclosure, cumulative impacts and management plans.
Doug Smith, independent environmental and social consultant and author of the guide, said: “Two decades on since the World Commissions on Dams, hydropower is set to play an important role in the clean energy transition.
“It is imperative that any environmental and social impacts of new and existing hydropower schemes are avoided, minimised and mitigated to ensure hydropower fulfils this role. This comprehensive guide can provide the guidance and practical methodologies necessary to help developers and operators deliver more sustainable projects.”
Alain Kilajian, Senior Sustainability Specialist at IHA, said: “ESIAs among other assessment processes are a crucial part in the development of any large infrastructure project. For hydropower, this guide offers a valuable overview of the practical measures that can be applied to increase their environmental and social performance.”