“For us the important thing is the successful future of hydropower, and the future reality of hydropower development and operation is sustainability. The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol is for us a means to realise this,” said Xavier Ursat, Deputy Vice President of Hydro Generation and Engineering, edf

The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol, a comprehensive tool to assess the sustainability of hydropower projects globally, was launched in June at the international-hydropower-association (iha) 2011 World Congress on Advancing Sustainable Hydropower in Iguassu, Brazil. It provides a rigorous, evidence-based assessment of between 19-23 relevant sustainability topics, depending on the development stage of the project.

IHA has been involved in the organisation and coordination of a total of 11 sessions at the World Water Forum, focused on the Key Priority for Action “Harmonize Water and Energy”. These included:

· A session on an Evaluation Framework for Energy Impacts on Water, led by EDF and including high-level speakers from Harvard, the Stockholm International Water Institute, epri, The Nature Conservancy, Light Brazil and the Roundtable for Sustainable Biofuels.

· A session on developing a Water-Energy Policy Network, organised by the Norwegian Ministry for Petroleum and Energy and including the French Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Development, the Tajik Ministry for Labour and Social Protection and the World Energy Council.

· A session on Hydropower Sustainability organised by IHA which brought together speakers from the Nature Conservancy, the World Water Council, Transparency International, SN Power Philippines, and GDF Suez.

“IHA has been very active at the Forum this year working to advance sustainability in the hydropower sector, and to raise awareness of the multiple benefits of hydropower development in ensuring climate change adaptation and mitigation and supporting sustainable development. These commitments show the Association is well on track to achieving the target we brought into this year’s Forum: By 2015, in at least 20 countries covering the five major regions, an assessment tool on hydropower sustainability (covering economic, social and environmental dimensions) – developed through a multi-stakeholder process – is applied to advance preparation and implementation/operation of sustainable hydropower schemes” said Richard Taylor, Executive Director, IHA

The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment 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, resettlement, water quality, and 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.

Implementation of the Protocol in the European Union is supported through Hydro4LIFE, a European Commission funded project. Hydro4LIFE will demonstrate the Protocol in the EU, raise awareness about the Protocol and serve to consolidate hydropower sustainability performance knowledge.

The Hydro4LIFE project is 50% co-funded by the European Commission’s Life+ Environment Policy and Governance programme, and 50% by IHA, with a total budget of €1.2 million. It is coordinated by IHA and runs from 1st September 2010 to 1st September 2013.

Ten international organisations and companies have already become early adopters by agreeing to implement the Protocol in at least one hydropower project within their sphere of influence. Known as IHA Sustainability Partners these are: EDF, E.ON, Itaipu Binacional, hydro-equipment-association, Hydro Tasmania, Landsvirkjun, Manitoba Hydro, Odebrecht, Sarawak Energy, and Statkraft.

The World Water Forum has been held every 3 years since 1997. This year’s event brings together around 140 ministerial delegations, 800 speakers, NGOs and public and private sector representatives, with a view to finding solutions to the world’s many water related challenges, and raising water issues higher on national and international political agendas.