World Bank building back better and greener with IHA training

IHA delivers first online training course for World Bank Group staff

The World Bank is a major force in the development of renewable hydropower plants around the globe, providing expert advice, technical assistance and financing to governments in developing countries.

Together with its sister organisation, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the bank has supported a technology which is delivering green and affordable electricity for millions of people, helping to lift living standards and reduce global carbon emissions.


Pictured: Online IHA training with World Bank staff

In these times, amid the economic damage being reaped by the Covid-19 pandemic, the World Bank Group has responded by emphasising the need for countries to ‘build back better and greener’ with sustainable hydropower.

This was the theme of a virtual conference it hosted last month, at which Makhtar Diop, the World Bank’s Vice President for Infrastructure, underlined the potential for hydropower to help governments achieve their carbon reduction targets, as set out in the Paris Climate Agreement.

“We know it's possible,” he said. “We can do it by using the huge potential we have with hydropower.”

“But hydropower projects are complex,” he noted. “We want to do them well, taking into account the environment and social implications.”

Recognised sustainability tools

In addition to their own Environmental and Social Framework (ESF) and IFC’s Performance Standards, the World Bank has been a guiding force in the development of the Hydropower Sustainability Tools. Widely endorsed by industry, governments, financial institutions, and social and environmental non-profit organisations, the tools are currently being used by developers and operators around the world to design, build and assess hydropower projects of all types and sizes.

The World Bank has applied the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol (HSAP) to eight of its projects across four regions, and worked to increase institutional knowledge among governments.

Due to the pandemic however, it is particularly challenging for the World Bank to train officials working in hydropower on how to use the tools.

Embedding the tools in the bank’s operations

The International Hydropower Association (IHA)'s sustainability division, which provides training and accreditation in the Hydropower Sustainability Tools, provided a welcome solution to this challenge by organising its first ever virtual training for World Bank staff earlier this month.

The three-week Certified User Training brought together around 40 employees working with the public and private sectors, including senior safeguard coordinators, programme managers, operations, energy, environmental, social, legal and dam specialists, to learn how to use the tools to identify and mitigate risks when financing a hydropower project.

The online course follows other recent collaborations between IHA and the World Bank including the development of a handbook on operations and maintenance strategies.

Providing a foundation for further embedding the tools in the bank’s operations, the course looked at how the Hydropower Sustainability Tools closely align with its ESF and IFC’s Performance Standards, but with a focus on the hydropower sector.

A deeper understanding

“The training with IHA on the Hydropower Sustainability Tools has been excellent,” said Ruth Tiffer-Sotomayor, Senior Environmental Specialist of the World Bank, who facilitated the course.

“It provided a deeper understanding of how these tools can be used along with the World Bank’s policies including our environmental and social standards to reduce risks and impacts and to use good and best international practices for better planning, construction and operation of hydropower.”

The course is designed as four modules with a blend of online as well as offline lessons. Participants take part in virtual classrooms, in which the trainer delivers live lessons, with group activities and Q&A sessions. On completion, participants complete an exam to be accredited as a Certified User of the Hydropower Sustainability Tools.

Flexible and interactive

“This is a very well structured, engaging training delivered by experienced, world-class experts,” said one of the participants, Christina Leb, Senior Water Resources Specialist at the World Bank. “I can highly recommend it to anyone interested in finding out more about the Hydropower Sustainability Tools and in learning how to apply them in different situations.”

Designed to be flexible and interactive, the Certified User Training course allows for participants to complete assignments on their own, discuss findings and share experiences.

“The course aims to equip participants with the fundamental knowledge and skills to apply the Hydropower Sustainability Tools,” noted IHA Senior Sustainability Specialist Joao Costa, who delivered the course alongside Accredited Lead Assessor Joerg Hartmann.

“It is clear that hydropower has an important role to play globally as we aim to ‘build back better’. Our challenge is to make sure projects are developed and operated responsibly and sustainably," Mr Costa said.

By taking this course, the World Bank staff have shown their commitment to greening our energy systems and providing clean, reliable and sustainable electricity for all.

For more information on the online training courses, please visit

If you or your organisation are interested in booking an online Certified User Training, please contact

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