Indigenous peoples require particular care on the part of hydropower project developers because, as social groups with identities distinct from dominant groups in national societies, they are often the most marginalised and vulnerable segments of the population.
The assessment process should utilise local knowledge when identifying issues that may affect indigenous peoples in relation to the project. Indigenous peoples have extensive experience and unique knowledge of lands, water, animals, plants and their use by members. Throughout the life of a project, plans should be in place to allow indigenous peoples to raise issues and for these issues to be addressed.
Adhering to good practice in an ongoing manner throughout the project life can help a hydropower project or operating facility to respect the dignity, human rights, aspirations, culture, lands, knowledge, practices and natural resource-based livelihoods of indigenous peoples.
Understanding good practice
International industry good practice in indigenous peoples 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. Indigenous Peoples is addressed in P-15 for the preparation stage, I-11 for the implementation stage and O-11 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. Indigenous Peoples is addressed in Section 7.