Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol

Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol


International Hydropower Association (IHA)

Type(s) of Tool

Rating SystemsProvide quantifiable sustainability ratings and / or certification for projects or assets.



Open Source


Language Availability

Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish

Country of Origin


Date of Development





The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol is a framework for assessing hydropower projects against a range of twenty-four social, environmental, technical and economic considerations. The main purpose of the tool is to help hydropower projects integrate an overall sustainability view in four phases of the project lifecycle – early stage, project preparation, implementation, and operation – each with individual assessment tools. Results of assessments undertaken during a project phase have the potential to assist in defining further concrete measures to be put in practice during that phase or to inform the key decisions that would be made at the phase’s end.

Tool Outcome

For every criterion, hydropower projects are accredited one to five points depending on their performance. A spider graph that maps the outcomes informs stakeholders in a comprehensive way. A report lays out significant gaps and explains outcomes in detail. The independent review can be used to obtain social licenses, facilitate access to sustainable finance, reduce risks or compare with international best practice.

Sustainability Criteria

The tool assesses the sustainability of hydropower projects across the following criteria:
– Climate change mitigation & resilience
– Communications & consultations
– Governance
– Demonstrated need & strategic fit
– Siting & design
– Environmental & social impact assessment
– Integrated project management
– Hydrological resource
– Infrastructure safety
– Financial viability
– Project benefits
– Economic viability
– Procurement
– Project-affected communities & livelihoods
– Labour & working conditions
– Water quality
– Public health
– Cultural heritage
– Indigenous people
– Resettlement
– Biodiversity & invasive species
– Erosion & sentimentation
– Reservoir planning
– Downstream flow regimes

Contact Information