Benchmarking Report Stage One: the Environmental and Social Policies and Practices of Chinese Overseas Hydropower Companies

Monday, June 22, 2015

In recent years, the global hydropower market has changed dramatically. Once the province of Western firms, these days large new companies from China and other countries are dominating the market. In a remarkable turn of events, these new companies have committed to following national laws, World Bank policies, UN guidelines and other standards as they construct their projects. What does this mean in practice? Which companies perform best, and which are lagging behind?

International Rivers’ new benchmarking report released in June 2015 details how the social and environmental policies of recent actors in the global hydropower industry compare with international best practice. Starting with the Chinese overseas hydropower industry in the first stage of this global project, our efforts have garnered significant interest from environmental groups around the world, the hydropower industry and governmental actors.

The report can be accessed in English and Chinese languages, with a detailed project website at, which has the full findings available for download and will be continually updated with new information. Grace Mang, International Rivers’ Co-Director of Programs reflects on the 24 month long project  –  the lessons learned and impact of the report.

The report is unprecedented in terms of information collected on the policy commitments of the major players in the Chinese overseas hydropower industry, as well as the company’s track records in delivering at the project level. Our hope is that communities and local NGOs will have the information they need to assess the commitments of dam builders they face, and how credibly these companies are implementing them around the world.