Kristin Schumann is Water Specialist at the International Hydropower Association (IHA)
I will present the hydropower sustainability assessment protocol. This is a set of tools for assessing the sustainability of hydropower projects. Over the past few decades, there have been concerns around the environmental, social, technical and economic sustainability of hydropower projects. The protocol is a response to the need to improve sustainability in hydropower. It provides not only a set of tools, but a system for incentivising improved sustainability performance and building capacity for sustainable hydropower. This protocol can contribute to a greener economy because it promotes sustainable hydropower. It enables existing and future projects to be more sustainable and to contribute to local development.
Which lessons learnt would you like to highlight?
The protocol was developed through a very intensive multi-stakeholder process. We established the hydropower sustainability assessment forum, formed by NGOs; government organisations from developed and developing countries; financial institutions from the private sector as well as the multinational investment banks; and the hydropower industry. By bringing these players together we were able to develop the protocol document and to trial early versions of the document. The trials were held in a number of different countries and the lessons learned from those trial assessments were integrated into the final agreed upon protocol document.
The multi-stakeholder approach is fundamental for the whole protocol process. We have established a multi-stakeholder governance committee, which is chaired by a representative of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and we are creating a multi-stakeholder hydropower sustainability assessment council. IHA is managing the implementation of the protocol, but the council and the governance committee represent the broader range of organisations which constitute the consensus behind the protocol.
Why should this case be shared with other participants at the Zaragoza conference?
One of the great features of the protocol is that it can be applied anywhere in the world on all kinds of different projects. It is globally applicable. Furthermore, the protocol contributes to capacity building. We are creating a pool of assessors that have been trained and accredited by the IHA. We just carried out one of our first training sessions and the participants are very interested in the content of the protocol and in applying it on their own practices. Another aspect contributing to capacity building is that the protocol is freely available for anyone. So stakeholders involved in hydropower projects can teach themselves and others about the content of the protocol.
Is there anything you wish to learn from other projects?
I am always very interested in learning about how countries deal with their climate mitigation and adaptation, especially in the water sector.