You are here

Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol


The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol (HSAP) is a tool for assessing projects across a range of social, environmental, technical and economic criteria.

The HSAP provides an international common language on how these criteria can be addressed at all stages of a project's lifecycle: planning, preparation, implementation and operation.

Assessments use objective evidence to create a sustainability profile, which can be used to identify gaps and drive continuous improvement. These assessments are delivered by fully accredited assessors.

You can find more information about the HSAP at




Download the HSAP (2018 edition).

How the HSAP was created

The HSAP was developed through 30 months of cross-sector engagement between 2007 and 2010, and a review of IHA’s previous sustainability tools, the World Commission on Dams Recommendations, the Equator Principles, the World Bank Safe Guard Policies and the IFC Performance Standards.

During this period, a multi-stakeholder forum jointly reviewed, enhanced and built consensus on what a sustainable project should look like. This forum included representatives of environmental NGOs (WWF, The Nature Conservancy), social NGOs (Oxfam, Transparency International), development banks (The World Bank), governments (China, Zambia, Germany, Iceland, Norway), and the hydropower sector. 


Read more

A draft of the HSAP was released in 2009, which was trialled in 16 countries across six continents, and subjected to further consultation. A final version was produced in 2010. In parallel, a Governance Council was formed to govern the HSAP going forward, using the same multi-stakeholder approach used to create it. 

In 2018, the HSAP was expanded to cover best practice and good practice in climate mitigation and resilience, and a new HESG Tool was launched.


2018 HSAP and new HESG Tool

The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol was updated in July 2018, following an 18 month consultation process, to examine hydropower’s carbon footprint and resilience to climate change.

A project that scores well under the new criteria will have a low carbon footprint and be resilient to the impacts of climate change. 


A new Hydropower Sustainability Environmental, Social and Governance Gap Analysis Tool (HESG Tool) was launched in July 2018.

Modelled on the HSAP’s evaluation framework, the HESG Tool offers a targeted assessment across 12 core sections, including biodiversity, downstream flows, project affected communities, cultural heritage, working conditions, and infrastructure safety, as well as climate change. 

Read more.

Latest associated content

  • Climate finance

    A new era of climate finance

    Philipp Hauser is vice president carbon markets at GDF Suez Energy Latin America.

    Blog post
    4 April 2014
  • Jean-Michel Devernay

    Interview: Jean-Michel Devernay, World Bank

    Jean-Michel Devernay is the World Bank's chief technical specialist for hydropower.

    Blog post
    28 February 2014
  • Africa–EU Energy Partnership

    Bringing energy to 100 million Africans

    Last week, African and European political and business leaders met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to lay out bold plans for Africa’s energy future, with hydropower at the forefront.

    Blog post
    18 February 2014
  • Sustainability

    Five ways to improve the sustainability of your hydropower project

    The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol is a tool for assessing the sustainability of hydropower projects against a comprehensive range of social, environmental, technical and economic considerations.

    Blog post
    13 February 2014
  • Members meeting in Brazil

    Some 20 senior representatives of our corporate members met in Brazil last week.

    News post
    4 February 2014


Subscribe to RSS - Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol