Civil Society Statement on the Launch of the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol (HSAP)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Congress of the International Hydropower Association
Foz do Iguaçú, Brasil

Make no mistake: the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol (HSAP) is a purely voluntary assessment tool.  It has little basis in multilateral international agreements, and exerts no binding force.  This proposed Protocol risks weakening existing social and environmental standards and concentrating control over assessments in the hands of the hydropower industry, ignoring the democratic processes of national legislation and international accords. 

The HSAP seeks only to measure, not enforce, the sustainability of hydropower projects.  It contains no minimal sustainability requirements and no bottom line for defining what an acceptable hydropower project is.   It does not require respect for human rights, for international conventions, or even for national laws. 

The HSAP's standard level 3 score does not require developers to adhere to existing international agreements that define basic good practices.  For example, agreements such as the International Labor Organization's Convention 169, the United Nations’ Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the International Finance Corporation's Performance Standard 7, all of which uphold indigenous peoples' right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent, above and beyond consultation.

Or, for example, World Bank Operational Policies 4.10 and 4.12, the Asian Development Bank's Resettlement Plan, the African Development Bank's Involuntary Resettlement Policy, and UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing’s Basic Principles and Directives on Eviction and Forced Displacement, all of which uphold affected peoples' right to monetary and non-monetary benefit-sharing, while requiring developers to prevent involuntary resettlement and economic displacement. Overall, the Protocol falls far behind these and other standards.

To avoid conflicts of interest, the International Hydropower Association must not be allowed to exert unwarranted influence over the Protocol’s terms and conditions of use, nor its peer-review evaluation process.  Without the establishment of a truly independent oversight committee and third-party assessors and methodologies, hydropower developers will enjoy too much influence over Protocol assessments and scores.  Such an outcome would contradict the principles of participation, transparency and accountability, upon which the HSAP is supposed to be founded.

HSAP's voluntary scoring system cannot, and should not, replace the recommendations of the World Commission on Dams (WCD), which continue to represent the best guidelines for sustainability in hydropower.  These recommendations enjoy a broad base of support, reflected by their adoption in national legislation, international treaties, and the policies of development institutions.  Most importantly, affected communities fully subscribe to the WCD recommendations and continue to promote them today, having participated in their creation.

Reflecting our commitment to strong social and environmental standards in hydropower, the undersigned civil society organizations and dam-affected peoples' movements call on governments, financial institutions, civil society organizations, and other groups here present to refrain from endorsing or otherwise supporting the HSAP.  As long as you continue to support the HSAP, we will monitor the outcomes of your involvement, and will hold you accountable to the standards we embrace.


  1. Solidarity Workshop, Bangladesh
  2. Ecosistemas, Chile
  3. Etica en los Bosques, Chile
  4. Instituto de Ecología Política, Chile
  5. Coalición Ciudadana por Aysén Reserva de Vida, Chile
  6. Corporación Privada para el Desarrollo de Aysén, Chile
  7. Fundación Pumalin, Chile
  8. Fundación Yendegaia, Chile
  9. Heike Drillisch, CounterCurrent - GegenStroemung, Germany
  10. Elke Rothkopf, INFOE - Institute for Ecology and Action Anthropology e.V., Germany
  11. Richard Koranteng Twum Barimah, Executive Director, Volta Basin Development Foundation, Ghana
  12. Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña, OFRANEH 
  13. Himalayan and Peninsular Hydro-Ecological Network-HYPHEN
  14. River Basin Friends (NE) India
  15. Shripad Dharmadhikary, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, India.
  16. Himanshu Thakkar, SANDRP, Delhi, India
  17. Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA)
  18. International Rivers
  19. CRBM, Italy
  20. Yuki Tanabe, Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society (JACSES), Japan
  21. Otros Mundos AC/Amigos de la Tierra México
  22. Movimiento Mexicano de Afectados por las Presas y en Defensa de los Ríos (MAPDER)
  23. Water and Energy Users' Federation-Nepal (WAFED)
  24. FIVAS, Norway
  25. SOBREVIVENCIA, Friends of the Earth Paraguay
  26. Liane Greeff, EcoDoc Africa, South Africa
  27. Berne Declaration, Switerzland
  28. Joji Carino,  Tebtebba Foundation
  29. Sena Alouka, Executive Director, Jeunes Volontaires pour l'Environnement, Togo
  30. The Corner House, UK