Sustainability pioneer Ashok Khosla to chair hydropower sustainability council

One of the world’s leading experts on sustainable development, Dr Ashok Khosla, has been appointed as independent chair of the global council that governs sustainability guidance for hydropower.

Dr Khosla will take up his new role on the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Council from 1 February 2021. One of his first tasks will be to introduce a Hydropower Sustainability Standard – a rating and certification system built on the Hydropower Sustainability Tools – following a three-month global public consultation that closes in February.  

As an advisor to the Brundtland Commission, chair of the NGO Forum at the Rio Summit and former President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Dr Khosla is widely regarded as a founding father of the concept of sustainable development.  

On his appointment Dr Khosla said: “Sustainable hydropower has a major role to play in helping countries to achieve sustainable development, meet renewables targets and address climate change. I am excited to take on this position to bring greater attention to the need for hydropower projects that are developed in an environmentally and socially responsible way.”

The appointment was made by the executive committee of the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Council – the multi-stakeholder body made up of representatives of social, community and environmental organisations, governments, commercial and development banks and the hydropower sector.  

Roger Gill, President of the International Hydropower Association (IHA) and previous chair of the council, commented: “Such an experienced appointment is an exciting opportunity to build and lift the profile of sustainable hydropower globally. I am sure Ashok will bring his huge experience, skills and credibility to the role, and thus elevate the conversation on sustainable hydropower in the 21st century.”

The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Council consists of seven chambers, each representing a different group of stakeholders:  

  1. Hydropower consultants, contractors or equipment suppliers;  
  1. Hydropower operators or developers;  
  1. Environment or conservation organisations;  
  1. Social impacts, project affected communities, and Indigenous Peoples organisations;  
  1. Development, public or commercial banks, financial organisations, and private investors and investment funds;  
  1. Emerging and developing economy country governments; and
  1. Advanced economy country governments.  

The council is supported by IHA Sustainability, a not-for-profit division of the International Hydropower Association (IHA). IHA Sustainability publishes the Hydropower Sustainability Tools and is the secretariat for the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Council and executive committee, while delivering training to practitioners and professional accreditation courses for assessors.  

The public consultation for the Hydropower Sustainability Standard closes on 8 February 2021. Members of the hydropower community are invited to register for a public webinar on the consultation on Wednesday 20 January, from 14:00-15:00 GMT.

Learn more about the council:  

Notes for Editors:

Ashok Khosla

Ashok Khosla chairs the Board of the thirty-five-year-old Development Alternatives (DA) Group. Headquartered in New Delhi, the DA Group was among the first civil society organisations set up in 1983 to address the issues of sustainable development as a whole. It also pioneered the concept of social enterprise, creating business-like approaches for eradicating poverty and conserving the natural resource base. 

Concurrently, he was Co-Chair of the United Nations’ International Resource Panel, from 2008 to 2016 – and a member of the China Council for International Environment and Development from 2011 to 2016.  He was President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) from 2008 to 2012 and Co-President of the Club of Rome, 2005-2012. 

Before his present position, Dr Khosla served as Director of Infoterra, the first global environmental information system, in UNEP, Nairobi (1976-82) and as the founding Director of the Office of Environmental Planning and Coordination in the Government of India, New Delhi (1971-76). 

In India, he has served on the National Security Advisory Board, the National Environment Board and the Science Advisory Council to the Cabinet and on the boards of many official, NGO and academic bodies and also currently chairs the Board of the Centre for Environmental Education.

At the international level, Dr Khosla has held senior positions such as Special Advisor to the Brundtland Commission (WCED), Chair of the 1992 NGO Forum at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, and Special Advisor to the Secretary General of the Rio+20 Conference.  He has served on the Boards of several environment and conservation organizations, including Chair of the Centre for Our Common Future, the Centre for Environmental Education, and Energy Globe, and member of the boards of IISD, Stockholm Environment Institute, ZERI, EXPO 2000, Toyota Environmental Awards.  He also been a member of the international advisory boards of CaixaBank, Spain and Samsung Electronics, South Asia.

Globally, he has pioneered several initiatives, including helping to design and teach the first university course on the environment (as an assistant to Professor Roger Revelle at Harvard University, 1965); to set up and head the first governmental agency for the Environment in a developing country (under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, 1972); to set up the original international information system on environment (Infoterra, with Maurice Strong at UNEP, 1976); and to establish the first social enterprise for sustainable development (Development Alternatives, 1983).  

Dr Khosla is an Officer of The Order of the British Empire (OBE), an Honorary Member of IUCN, Senior Ashoka Fellow, Patron of LEAD-India and has received the United Nations Sasakawa Environment Prize, the Zayed International Environment Prize, the WWF Duke of Edinburgh Medal, Honorary Member of IUCN, the Schwab Foundation Award for Outstanding Social Entrepreneur and the Stockholm Challenge Award.  He has a BA in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University (1962) and a PhD in Experimental Physics from Harvard University (1970). 

More information on Ashok Khosla can be found here:

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