The Sebzor hydropower project in Tajikistan has become the first project in the world to be certified against the Hydropower Sustainability Standard, the hydropower sector’s independent sustainability certification scheme which accredits hydropower projects that meet and exceed good practice in a wide range of sustainability topics.

The 11MW project, which is owned by Pamir Energy, was assessed 30 September – 5 October 2022, with a 60-day public consultation period following, which ended on 23 February 2023.

“I cannot commend Pamir Energy enough for the Sebzor Hydropower project becoming the world’s first project certified against the Hydropower Sustainability Standard,” commented Ashok Khosla, Chair of the Hydropower Sustainability Governance Council and sustainable development expert. “Their tenacity and dedication to implementing good sustainability practices has paid off. We look forward to seeing their continued leadership in sustainable hydropower development, as they work towards applying the same standards across all their operations.”

Amrikhon Raimov, General Director of Pamir Energy said of the certification: “We are proud to be leading the way in sustainable hydropower development in Tajikistan and beyond. As part of our efforts in continuing to achieve the highest standards of sustainability, we are now already working towards obtaining the Gold certification against the Hydropower Sustainability Standard.

“Sebzor is just the beginning of our journey to provide clean, reliable, and affordable energy while protecting the environment and supporting the communities we serve.”

The Hydropower Sustainability Standard is an independent, international certification scheme, which measures minimum levels of good practice in twelve sustainability topics from biodiversity and indigenous peoples to water quality and climate change mitigation.

Developed by a multistakeholder group comprised of industry, environmental and social NGOs, multilateral banks and civil society organisations, the Standard provides a framework to incentivise sustainable hydropower projects and improve less sustainable developments.

The assessment of Sebzor was made possible in part thanks to the support of the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and its Hydropower ESG (HESG) Assessment Fund. Sebzor was one of the first recipients of this fund, which aims to promote sustainable hydropower development by supporting the assessment of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) risks and opportunities.

“Sebzor is a good example of why we created the HESG fund. We want to make sustainability assessments accessible to hydropower projects and help them identify their gaps and work towards closing them,” commented Daniel Menebhi, Program Manager at SECO. “This should also help developers get access to finance including through green bonds. SECO supports the Hydropower Sustainability Standard because hydropower has an important role to play in the energy transition and by applying the Standard the sustainability of hydropower investments is improved.”

This world first was celebrated at an event jointly hosted by the International Hydropower Association, ITAIPU Binacional, the Executive Committee for the International Fund for saving the Aral Sea, the Aga Khan Foundation and the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources of the Republic of Tajikistan with Minister H.E. Daler Jum’a Shofaqir attending.

The event focused on exploring the interface between water, energy and the environment and how they can provide benefits to water, agriculture and the environment sectors with an emphasis on collaboration between countries.