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 key role in a multi-stakeholder process to develop sustainability guidelines and assessment tools for hydropower.
Hydropower Sustainability Tools
The Hydropower Sustainability Tools were developed by the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Council, a governing council representing industry, government, financial institutions and social and environmental NGOs. The tools are published by IHA as the council’s secretariat.
The tools comprise Guidelines on Good International Industry Practice as well as two assessment tools:
- the Assessment Protocol to measure performance above and below defined good practice
- the ESG Gap Analysis Tool for checking for gaps against good practice and delivering a gap management plan.
IHA offers capacity-building, training and accreditation for independent assessors in the use of these tools:
Hydropower Sustainability Guidelines
The Hydropower Sustainability Guidelines on Good International Industry Practice (HGIIP) define expected sustainability performance for the hydropower sector across a range of environmental, social, technical and governance topics.
The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol (HSAP) offers a framework for assessing hydropower projects above and below good practice against a comprehensive range of social, environmental, technical and economic criteria.
The HSAP was originally published in 2010 and updated in 2018 and 2020.
Gap Analysis Tool
The Hydropower Sustainability ESG Gap Analysis Tool (HESG) enables hydropower project proponents and investors to identify and address gaps against international good practice.
Hydropower Sustainability Training Academy
The Hydropower Sustainability Training Academy currently offers three professional training courses: certified user or accredited assessor training in the Hydropower Sustainability Tools, and training in the G-res Tool to evaluate greenhouse gas emissions.
IHA publishes how-to guides on a range of topics to help hydropower developers and operators meet international industry good practice in sustainability.
IHA's Better Hydro publication showcases proven good practice in sustainable hydropower.
IHA 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: