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Hydropower plays a vital role in reducing the world's dependence on fossil fuels. As a renewable energy, it is essential that hydropower is developed sustainably.

The International Hydropower Association (IHA) has played a key role in a multi-stakeholder process to develop sustainability guidelines and assessment tools for hydropower.

Hydropower Sustainability Tools

The Hydropower Sustainability Tools were developed by the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Council, a governing council representing industry, government, financial institutions and social and environmental NGOs. The tools are published by IHA as the council’s secretariat.


The tools comprise Guidelines on Good International Industry Practice as well as two assessment tools:



IHA offers capacity-building, training and accreditation for independent assessors in the use of these tools:

Hydropower Sustainability Guidelines

The Hydropower Sustainability Guidelines on Good International Industry Practice (HGIIP) define expected sustainability performance for the hydropower sector across a range of environmental, social, technical and governance topics.


The 26 guidelines present definitions of the processes and outcomes relating to good practice in the planning, operation and implementation of hydropower projects. As a compendium, the guidelines are a reference document for meeting the expectations of lenders, regulators, and consumers. Compliance with each guideline can be specified in commercial contracts between financiers and developers, and developers and contractors. 

Find out more.


Assessment Protocol

The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol (HSAP) offers a framework for assessing hydropower projects above and below good practice against a comprehensive range of social, environmental, technical and economic criteria.


Assessments are delivered by independent accredited assessors and can examine different stages of a project’s life-cycle. Objective evidence collected during an assessment is used to create a sustainability profile, which can be used to benchmark performance and drive further improvements. 

The HSAP was originally published in 2010 and updated in 2018 and 2020. 

Find out more.


Gap Analysis Tool

The Hydropower Sustainability ESG Gap Analysis Tool (HESG) enables hydropower project proponents and investors to identify and address gaps against international good practice.


First launched in 2018 and updated in 2020, the gap analysis tool is based on the assessment framework of the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol. It provides a gap management action plan to help a project team address any gaps and is divided into 12 sections which are compatible with IFC and World Bank standards. 

Find out more.

Hydropower Sustainability Training Academy

The Hydropower Sustainability Training Academy currently offers three professional training courses: certified user or accredited assessor training in the Hydropower Sustainability Tools, and training in the G-res Tool to evaluate greenhouse gas emissions. 

For information about upcoming courses, please visit or contact

How-to Guides

IHA publishes how-to guides on a range of topics to help hydropower developers and operators meet international industry good practice in sustainability.


How-to guide on Erosion and Sedimentation




Case studies

IHA's Better Hydro publication showcases proven good practice in sustainable hydropower.

IHA has developed a compendium of case studies demonstrating excellence in sustainable hydropower development, based on assessments carried out under the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol. 

The case studies focus on specific aspects of development, such as indigenous people, cultural heritage, economic viability, and water quality (23 topics are covered in total). Read more.

Case study: Costa Rica

The Reventazón Hydroelectric Project in Costa Rica was assessed using the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol in 2017. Learn more.

Watch our short documentary:

Assessing hydropower projects against good practices in sustainability