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Hydropower Sustainability Protocol training kicks off in Brazil

The International Hydropower Association (IHA) has led training for a number of South American firms on the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol, to help them assess the sustainability of their projects.

Organised by the IHA, the week-long training course in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, covered all aspects of the Protocol, which the organisation hopes will soon be adopted by companies across the globe.

Designed to help organisations assess the sustainability of hydropower projects, the Protocol provides an evidence-based assessment of between 19 and 23 relevant sustainability topics, depending on the development stage of the project. These topics include issues such as downstream flow regimes, indigenous peoples, biodiversity, infrastructure safety, resettlement, water quality, and erosion and sedimentation.

Four Brazilian organisations attended the course: hydropower company Itaipu Binacional, utility Eletrobras, the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy, and consultancy Cepel Energy Research. They were joined by participants from Colombian energy company ISAGEN.

Douglas Smith, the IHA sustainability specialist who led the course, said: “The Protocol, a tool to guide sustainability in the sector, provides a common language around which issues of sustainability can be discussed and understood, and training with multiple stakeholders like this contributes significantly to the process.”

Eleven international organisations and companies have already become early adopters by agreeing to implement the Protocol in at least one hydropower project within their sphere of influence. Known as IHA Sustainability Partners these are: EDF, E.ON, GDF Suez, Itaipu Binacional, Hydro Equipment Association, Hydro Tasmania, Landsvirkjun, Manitoba Hydro, Odebrecht, Sarawak Energy, and Statkraft.

Itaipu Binacional, which operates 14 GW of installed hydropower, is jointly owned and operated by the Governments of Brazil and Paraguay, supplying around 17% of Brazil’s energy and around 73% of Paraguay’s energy needs.

"The two main objectives of Itaipu in becoming an IHA Sustainability Partner are to study the use of the Protocol as part of our corporate sustainability management system and to support the Protocol process,” said Ricardo Krauskopf Neto, Itaipu Binacional’s executive technical director.

He added: “The training was a key component of both objectives, giving Itaipu's important stakeholders a clear view of the demands and complexities of the Protocol and, therefore, the commitments necessary for its application. It also gave external stakeholders significant insight into the importance of this assessment tool for Brazil and for the development of sustainable hydropower throughout the world."

The development process of the Protocol involved field trials in 16 countries, across 6 continents, and stakeholder engagement with 1,933 individuals in 28 countries.

It is has been developed with input from stakeholders across the spectrum, including representatives from social and environmental NGOs, such as Oxfam, The Nature Conservancy, Transparency International and WWF, governments, including China, Germany, Iceland, Norway, and Zambia, commercial and development banks and the hydropower sector, represented by IHA.

Implementation of the Protocol in the European Union is supported through Hydro4Life, a European Commission funded project.

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