What is it's scope?

The Protocol covers a range of topics that are important to understand the overall sustainability of a hydropower project. The ‘spider diagram’ below shows the environmental, social, technical and economic aspects which are included. 

The Protocol also includes ‘cross-cutting issues’ such as climate change and human rights, which feature in multiple topics.

For each sustainability topic, performance is scored from one to five. Five represents proven best-practice, three represents basic good practice. 


When is it used?

The Protocol can be used at any stage of hydropower development, from the earliest planning stages right through to operation. It has also been designed to work on projects and facilities anywhere in the world. 

It incorporates five documents:

- The background document, which describes how the Protocol works. 
- The early stage document, a screening tool for potential hydropower projects.
- The preparation document, which covers planning and design, management plans and commitments.
- The implementation document, used through the construction phase. 
- The operation document, used on working projects.


How was it created?

The Protocol was developed through 30 months (2008–10) of cross-sector engagement, including a review of the World Commission on Dams Recommendations, the World Bank Safe Guard Policies and the IFC Performance Standards.
During this period, a multi-stakeholder forum jointly reviewed, enhanced and built consensus on what a sustainable project should look like. This forum included representatives of environmental NGOs (WWF, The Nature Conservancy), social NGOs (Oxfam, Transparency International), development banks, governments (China, Zambia, Iceland, Norway), and the hydropower sector. 
A draft of the Protocol was released in 2009, which was trialled in 16 countries across six continents and subjected to further consultation involving 1,933 individual stakeholders from 28 countries. The final version was produced in 2010.