Benchmarking the Policies and Practices of International Hydropower Companies

Monday, June 22, 2015

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.

The key findings of the report are:

  • Generally, companies that build projects as contractors perform better than companies that invest in and own their projects. Among the various Chinese companies, Sinohydro International had the strongest record, and Huaneng and Datang had the weakest.
  • Companies performed strongest at the project site if they were forced to do so by the laws of the host country. 
  • At the policy level, companies scored highest for dam safety measures. In actual practice, companies performed better when implementing environmental standards than standards relating to host communities, workers, and general risk management.
  • There are still significant gaps between policy commitments and performance on the ground. Most companies talk the talk, but don’t necessarily walk the walk. The cost is borne by those who can least afford it – rural communities and fragile ecosystems.

Download the English language version:

Download the Chinese language version:

More information: