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13 December 2018

New sustainability guidelines released today present a definition of the processes and outcomes relating to good international practice in the hydropower sector.

The Hydropower Sustainability Guidelines on Good International Industry Practice are a reference document to meet the expectations of lenders, regulators and consumers.

Derived through consultation with a broad coalition of industry, civil society, governments and financial institutions, the set of 26 guidelines define expected sustainability performance around a range of environmental, social, technical and governance topics relevant to hydropower activities.


The guidelines are governed by the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Council, whose 100 members include representatives of organisations such as the World Bank Group, the Inter-American Investment Corporation, Women for Water Partnership, WWF, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the Norwegian Agency for Development, the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs and the International Hydropower Association (IHA).

Richard Taylor, Chief Executive of IHA, said: “The publication of the guidelines is a major landmark for the hydropower sector. They are a much-needed reference document, as they set out what constitutes good practice in processes and outcomes for sustainable hydropower.”

Roger Gill, Chair of the Council’s governance committee, said the guidelines should “demystify what is required to advance sustainable hydropower”. “Use of the guidelines on good international industry practice will enable hydropower developers and operators across the world to step up to ensure their projects can meet the needs and expectations of the communities they serve,” he stated.  

Aligned with standards developed by the World Bank, International Finance Corporation, and the Equator Principles group of banks, the guidelines are hydropower-specific and designed to support assessments of project performance using the Council’s internationally recognised Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol and ESG Gap Analysis Tool.

Developed for a range of stages in the planning, development and operation of a hydropower project, compliance with each guideline can be specified in commercial contracts between financiers and developers, and developers and contractors.

Lesha Witmer, Advocacy Lead for the NGO Women for Water Partnership, a member of the Council’s governance committee, said the new sustainability guidelines are “an important tool” for developers as well as governments, environmental organisations and local communities. “It is extremely important to have good guidance and examples on how to sustainably use water for energy - and energy for water - adhering to implementation of Sustainable Development Goals 6 and 7. The guidelines on good practice are a contribution to do just that.”

Eduard Wojczynski, a specialist consultant on hydropower sustainability, said: “The sustainability guidelines are a well-articulated and concise set of principles which will be useful in both developing and developed countries. They are important in that they will assist in ensuring hydropower is developed and operated in a sustainable manner and in enhancing societal acceptance of hydropower.”

Download the Hydropower Sustainability Guidelines at: or

Media enquiries:

Will Henley, IHA Head of Communications

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.


IHA's Chief Excutive Richard Taylor (centre) with representatives of Itaipu Binacional at COP24.

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 Liu Zhenmin, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, at the launch event on 4 December 2018

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


The recipients of the IHA Young Researcher Award at the 2017 World Hydropower Congress

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

7 December 2018

Registration is now open for the World Hydropower Congress, the globe’s most important gathering of hydropower decision-makers, experts and innovators.

Register today

This biennial event, which takes place between 14-16 May 2019, brings together representatives of industry, government, finance and civil society to help shape the future of hydropower.

The event is organised by the International Hydropower Association (IHA) and hosted in partnership with UNESCO.

Under the theme ‘The power of water in a sustainable, interconnected world’ the congress focusses on hydropower’s role in delivering on the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.

World Hydropower Congress | Paris

World Hydropower Congress | Paris


Attendees can expect:

  • 37 sessions and training workshops

  • Up to 1,000 delegates including decision-makers, experts and innovators

  • Representation from 70+ countries

  • Essential insights into managing freshwater, advancing clean energy systems, reporting on sustainability, and demonstrating climate solutions, among other topics

  • Study tours of hydropower facilities in France and other European countries

View the full agenda

More information about the Congress programme, including speakers, topics, tours and workshops, will be released over the coming weeks. Keep checking our website and sign up to receive updates.

Attendees are encouraged to take advantage of early bird rates available for a limited time period, further information can be found on the registration page:

Register here

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.


The workshop is part of a series leading to the World Hydropower Congress in May 2019.

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.