A dam industry effort threatens to greenwash dams and undermine the recommendations of the World Commission on Dams (WCD). The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol (HSAP) is a voluntary, non-binding auditing tool that allows dam builders to score the sustainability of their own dam projects. This civil society fact sheet examines how the HSAP works, its shortcomings, and why it could end up legitimizing destructive dams.
The HSAP was created between 2007 and 2010 by the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Forum (HSAF), an initiative of the International Hydropower Association (IHA), a lobbying group formed in 1995 to represent the interests of dam builders. Participation in the HSAF was limited to a self-selected group of industry representatives, government agencies, financiers, and large non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Meanwhile, civil society organizations from the Global South and dam-affected people were excluded.
Despite HSAP’s weak guidelines and non-binding nature, the IHA is lobbying governments and dam builders across the world to adopt the Protocol. In some cases, such as the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme and the European Water Directive Framework, the HSAP threatens to replace the WCD recommendations. In other cases, IHA's "Sustainability Partners" may use the HSAP as a public relations gimmick to greenwash destructive dams.
The HSAP threatens to greenwash, not improve, the social and environmental practices of the hydropower industry. You can do your part to prevent this from happening.