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Hydropower plays a vital role in reducing the world's dependence on fossil fuels. As a renewable energy, it is essential that hydropower is developed sustainably.

The International Hydropower Association (IHA) has played a leading role in the development of recognised sustainability guidelines and assessment tools.

IHA acts as the management body for the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Council and oversees sustainability training and accreditation for assessors.


Hydropower Sustainability Guidelines

The Hydropower Sustainability Guidelines on Good International Industry Practice define expected sustainability performance for the hydropower sector across a range of environmental, social, technical and governance topics.


The 26 guidelines present definitions of the processes and outcomes relating to good practice in the planning, operation and implementation of hydropower projects. As a compendium, the guidelines are a reference document for meeting the expectations of lenders, regulators, and consumers.

Find out more about the guidelines.


Assessment Protocol

The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol (HSAP) offers a framework for assessing hydropower projects against a comprehensive range of social, environmental, technical and economic criteria.


The HSAP was shaped by representatives from governments, commercial and development banks, social and environmental NGOs, and the hydropower sector.

The HSAP was updated in July 2018 to cover climate mitigation and resilience.

Find out more about the HSAP.


Gap Analysis Tool

The Hydropower Sustainability Environmental, Social and Governance Gap Analysis Tool (HESG Tool) enables hydropower project proponents and investors to identify and address gaps against international good practice.


Launched in July 2018, the HESG Tool is based on the framework of the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol. It assesses projects against the requirements of the HSAP's environmental, social and governance topics. 


Find out more about the HESG Tool.



Better Hydro

Our Better Hydro initiative showcases proven good practice in sustainable hydropower.

Our Sustainability Team has developed a compendium of case studies demonstrating excellence in sustainable hydropower development, based on assessments carried out under the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol. 

The case studies focus on specific aspects of development, such as indigenous people, cultural heritage, economic viability, and water quality (23 topics are covered in total). Read more.

Case study: Costa Rica

The Reventazón Hydroelectric Project in Costa Rica was assessed using the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol in 2017. Learn more.

Watch our short documentary:

Assessing hydropower projects against good practices in sustainability