Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol (HSAP)

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The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol is an enhanced sustainability assessment tool which is being used to measure and guide performance in the hydropower sector.

The Protocol can be used at any stage of hydropower development, from the very earliest planning stages, right through to operation. It has been designed to work on projects and facilities anywhere in the world. To assess the sustainability of hydropower projects at all stages of development, the Protocol comprises five documents – a Background document and four assessment tools for the different stages of the project life cycle: Early Stage, Preparation, Implementation (= construction), and Operation.

Assessments rely on objective evidence to create a sustainability profile against some 20 topics depending on the relevant stage, and covering all aspects of sustainability.The Protocol topics cover the three pillars of sustainability: social, economic, and environmental, and include issues such as downstream flow regimes, indigenous peoples, biodiversity, infrastructure safety, financial structuring, economic benefits, options assessment, resettlement, water quality, erosion, and sedimentation.

The assessment tools are used as a framework to produce a sustainability profile for a hydropower project. In so doing, multiple stakeholders can become better informed on the sustainability profile of a project, and develop strategies to address any weaknesses.


The Protocol is the result of intensive work from 2008 to 2010 by the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Forum, a multi-stakeholder body with representatives from social and environmental NGOs (Oxfam, The Nature Conservancy, Transparency International, WWF); governments (China, Germany [as an observer, represented by GIZ], Iceland, Norway, Zambia); commercial and development banks (Equator Principles Financial Institutions Group, The World Bank [as an observer]); hydropower operators and developers (Statkraft, Hydro Tasmania, and others); and hydropower consultants, contractors and suppliers (Voith Hydro, Hydrofocus, Hydro Equipment Association, and others) . The development process of the Protocol involved field trials in 16 countries, across 6 continents, and stakeholder engagement with nearly 2,000 people in 28 countries.

The Protocol was officially launched in Brazil in June 2011 and is governed by a multi-stakeholder council, comprising a governance committee and a management entity, the latter residing within IHA. In May 2013 the Transitional Governance Committee has been replaced by the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Council as a permanent steering entity.


Download all documents relating to the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol

Further Information