Guidance has been released to help hydropower planners design and implement projects that carefully co-exist with and support protected conservation areas.

The good practice guide was published by the International Hydropower Association (IHA) following consultations with a multi-stakeholder Working Group on Protected Areas, which included the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, hydropower developers and operators such as EDF, Renewable Energy Holdings, and ICE.

The publication of the guide follows the announcement earlier this month of new safeguards for hydropower development in Protected Areas, including a no-go commitment on World Heritage Sites.

Under IHA’s new duty of care commitment for Protected Areas, the association’s members must implement high standards of performance and transparency when affecting Protected Areas, as well as candidate Protected Areas and corridors between Protected Areas. This should be demonstrated through a systematic application of the Hydropower Sustainability Tools or certification against the newly launched Hydropower Sustainability Standard.

The new guide will help IHA’s members, non-members and wider stakeholders to understand and deliver the duty of care commitment. This covers how best to avoid, minimise, mitigate or compensate for potential impacts surrounding Protected Areas during a project’s life cycle, from design to development and operation.

Joerg Hartmann, author of the guide and an Accredited Lead Assessor for the Hydropower Sustainability Tools said: “In our work as environmental and social consultants, we often see unnecessary conflicts between hydropower and Protected Areas – conflicts that could easily be avoided with better awareness in project siting and design, and even turned into positive relationships. For example, Protected Areas can protect the watersheds that hydropower depends on. Hopefully, this guide will help developers and managers of Protected Areas find more common ground.”

The Hydropower Sustainability Standard, through which companies can certify their projects, was launched at the World Hydropower Congress on 8 September 2021. It will help ensure that developments across the world are recognised for their environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance.  ‍

The Congress runs until 24 September, and you can register for the remaing sessions here.