Sinohydro Corporation

The World's Biggest Hydropower Dam Company

Sinohydro Corporation is a Chinese state-owned company and the world’s largest hydropower construction company with a 50% share of the international hydropower market. Sinohydro has aggressively pursued international dam-building opportunities and is now active in South-East Asia, South Asia, Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe. While Sinohydro strives to be an international leading hydropower construction company, Sinohydro’s position to "over deliver and under promise" on environmental and social protections means that its company commitments remain broad and insufficient for a company of its global standing. The company also continues to be involved in controversial hydropower projects around the world.

Sinohydro is the face of China’s overseas dam building but its role in several controversial hydropower projects has long made it the focus of significant criticism. During the construction of the destructive Merowe Dam in Sudan in the mid-2000s, Sinohydro along with other international contractors, was called upon by the United Nations to stop work after reports that local villagers were being flooded out of their homes. Sinohydro's failure to respect the United Nations’ request resulted in significant international criticism of China's role in global dam building. Today, Sinohydro is considering developing and participating mega-hydropower projects on the Salween (Burma), Mekong mainstream (Pak Lay, Lao PDR and Don Sahong (as a contractor)), Stung Cheay Areng (Cambodia), Patuca cascade (Honduras), Nile Rivers (Sudan), Inga 3 (Democratic Republic of Congo) has only increased scrutiny of the company’s practices.

Recognizing Sinohydro's impact on communities and environments around the world, in 2009 International Rivers and Sinohydro began a policy dialogue on its overseas activities. Using this platform, International Rivers and our partners in Sinohydro dam-affected communities, urged Sinohydro to adopt an environmental policy that reflected international standards and engage in a dialogue with civil society in the host countries of its projects. Sinohydro has accepted that to be a leading global actor it would need to follow global standards.

Sinohydro's Environment and Social Policies

Despite preparing leading environment and social policies in 2011, Sinohydro has only disclosed very general commitments contained in its Sustainable Development, Health Safety and Environment, and Ethics Policies. Basic commitments to respect local culture and customs, develop a dialogue and communications mechanisms for project stakeholders including communities, preserve biodiversity and affected ecosystems, and the protection of World Heritage Areas, are included in these documents.

Sinohydro’s investment company, Sinohydro Resources, has communicated to International Rivers that it aspires to implement projects in line with the World Bank’s Safeguard Standards. Sinohydro International Corporation Limited, responsible for EPC projects, is developing and implementing an internal control system that in the view of Senior Management will put the company’s practice on par with international standards.

International Rivers’ has prepared two short guides for NGOs, civil societies and communities impacted by Sinohydro projects to better understand the company’s policy commitments and how they might translate on-the-ground.