Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM)’s Ituango hydroelectric project, with a capacity of 2.4GW, has earned the Silver certification from the Hydropower Sustainability Alliance (HSA). This certification rates the project as sustainable in environmental, social, and governance aspects, making Ituango the first project in Latin America to achieve this recognition and EPM the second IHA member in the region to do so.

The certification is valid until November 2026, acknowledging the project’s adherence to high sustainability standards. The achievement was supported by the Global Program for Strengthening Capacities in Sustainable Hydropower, funded by the Swiss Economic Cooperation (SECO) and implemented by the HSA. This program promotes international best practices in hydroelectric project management and has benefitted countries like Colombia, Indonesia, Morocco, Tajikistan, and Albania.

Eddie Rich, CEO of IHA, praised the achievement: “Going forward, the only acceptable hydropower is sustainable hydropower. The Ituango project provides reliable and renewable electricity that not only meet energy needs but does so in a way that promotes long-term sustainability and energy security. By collectively adopting and demonstrating sustainable practices, IHA members can solidify hydropower’s essential role in developing net zero.”

John Maya Salazar, EPM’s General Manager, commented: “This recognition was the result of business management framed by the care and respect for natural resources and communities. The Ituango hydroelectric project is a promoter of good and better practices, and he mentioned that this certification reaffirmed that we are aligned with international performance standards on environmental and social sustainability and leverage initiatives that contribute to the development in the Project’s area of influence.

“This certificate supports the work that EPM has undertaken to ensure human and financial resources for environmental and social management; the resilience and recovery achieved after the contingency; the capacity to manage environmental requirements that have arisen throughout the construction phase; and the contribution to forest conservation and the development and strengthening of communities,” he added.

Ituango powerhouse
The Ituango project powerhouse

The Hydropower Sustainability Alliance (HSA) is a multilateral non-profit organization involving governments, companies, civil society, and financial institutions. The HSA promotes transparency in the sector through rigorous sustainability assessments and certification systems, supported by the Hydropower Sustainability Standard, which aligns with the performance standards of the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

João Costa, Executive Director of the HSA, said: “We are excited to celebrate Ituango’s achievement as the second largest project to be certified under the Hydropower Sustainability Standard. The Ituango project, is anticipated to meet 17% of Colombia’s electricity demand. This certification underscores EPM’s impressive efforts to improve the sustainability of the project, ensuring it aligns with global best practices and environmental standards.”

The certification covers environmental, social, and governance components of hydropower project management, contributing to the development of sustainable hydropower. The International Hydropower Association (IHA) encourages all its members to follow EPM’s example and certify their projects against the hydropower sustainability standard, aligning with key lenders’ safeguards and potentially attracting climate-aligned finance through green bonds and International Renewables Certificates certified by RE100.