Global tool to advance the sustainability of hydro projects launched

The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol, a comprehensive tool to assess the sustainability of hydropower projects globally, was launched at the International Hydropower Association (IHA) 2011 World Congress on Advancing Sustainable Hydropower.

"For years, the environmental community has been looking for industry leadership to raise the environmental performance of hydro projects, and to avoid bad projects altogether. Industry awareness is certainly increasing, but there is still an urgent need for practical tools in the field." said Dr Joerg Hartmann, Water Security Leader, WWF International. "Working with IHA on the Protocol has already proven to be a very effective way for WWF to reach a broad group of utilities, investors and regulators."

Launching the Protocol in Iguassu, Brazil, were representatives of key stakeholders involved in the 30 month Protocol development process including: David Harrison, Senior Advisor Global Freshwater Team at The Nature Conservancy; Donal O'Leary, Senior Advisor of Transparency International; Mr Israel Phiri, Manager at the Zambian Ministry of Energy and Water Development; Mr Antonio Cardoso, Executive Technical Director of Itaipu Binacional; and Dr Refaat Abdel-Malek, President of IHA.

The IHA also announced the first eight Sustainability Partners. These sustainability leaders role in promoting continuous improvement of hydropower sustainability performance: EDF, E.ON, Itaipu Binacional, Hydro Tasmania, Landsvirkjun, Manitoba Hydro, Sarawak Energy, and Statkraft.

Sustainability Partners receive training on the content and application of the Protocol and two Protocol assessments, one of which is carried out by an accredited assessor as an official Protocol assessment.

The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol offers a consistent, globally-applicable method of assessing performance in approximately twenty vital topics of the sustainability of hydropower facilities, depending on the stage of the assessment. These topics cover the four principle pillars of sustainability: social, economic, environmental and technical.

These topics include downstream flow regimes, indigenous peoples, biodiversity, infrastructure safety, resettlement, water quality, and economic viability.

The Protocol can be used during all stages of hydropower project development: early stage, preparation, implementation and operation. It has been designed to be used to assess the sustainability of hydropower projects anywhere in the world.

Based on objective analysis and documented evidence, the results of an assessment of the facility using the Protocol are presented in a standardised structure and diagram, allowing transparent communication and rapid interpretation.

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