“The International Hydropower Association (IHA) just launched the “Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol” (HSAP) at its bi-yearly Congress in the town of Foz do Iguaçú, Brazil, last week. The Protocol is in reality only a scorecard that rewards hydropower companies and financiers with a greenwashed stamp of approval; it does not represent a true step towards the actual practice of sustainability in the sector.
The Protocol is a risky way of helping developers achieve true social and environmental sustainability, because it doesn’t require developers to meet any standards, nor fulfill any laws. At the heart of the Protocol is a point-based rewards system, similar to a frequent flyer program: accumulating a higher amount of points would allow a developer to claim that its projects are sustainable.
However, the governance committee formed by the IHA to oversee the terms and conditions of the Protocol, including the methodologies and peer review of Protocol assessments, includes a large number of hydropower companies themselves. This presents a large conflict of interest, and ultimately, a risk to investors. With the HSAP, significant problems may be greenwashed instead of taken into account, their costs valued, and proper steps taken to fix errors before they occur. HSAP does not penalize developers legally or monetarily if errors are found.”
Read more: International Rivers