Environmental and Social Issues Management

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Environmental and social issues management covers the processes used to identify, avoid, minimise and mitigate negative impacts through the life of a hydropower project.

Good practice in this area includes the identification of the full range of relevant potential impacts during project preparation in the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) and the steps taken at the preparation, implementation and operation stages to avoid, minimise and mitigate negative impacts with no significant gaps.

Adhering to good practice in environmental and social issues management can help a project developer, owner or operator ensure that risks that could have been avoided at the impact assessment stage do not later emerge, and that environmental and social commitments are fulfilled.

Understanding good practice

International industry good practice in environmental and social issues management for hydropower projects is defined in the Hydropower Sustainability Guidelines on Good International Industry Practice (HGIIP).

The guidelines were published by the International Hydropower Association and are governed by the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Council, a multi-stakeholder group of representatives of civil society, industry, governments and financial institutions.

Assessing project performance

Two assessment tools are available to measure hydropower project performance:

The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol (HSAP)  is used by independent accredited assessors to consider whether a project has achieved good and best practice at different stages of its life cycle. Environmental and Social Issues Management is addressed in P-5 for the preparation stage, I-3 for the implementation stage and O-3 for the operation stage.

The Hydropower Sustainability ESG Gap Analysis Tool is used by independent accredited assessors to help project teams address any gaps against good practice in environmental, social and governance topics across 12 assessment sections. Communications and Consultation is addressed in Section 1.

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