Project benefits, in this context, refers to the sharing of benefits with communities directly affected by the development of a hydropower project which go beyond one-time compensation payments or resettlement support.
At the planning stage, the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) should demonstrate that opportunities for project benefits have been researched, along with the feasibility of measures to identify and realise them. Project benefits should be linked to development objectives, which may be expressed in national, regional or local development plans or strategies. At the implementation and operation stages, measures should be in place to deliver commitments to project benefits and ensure that these commitments are publicly disclosed.
Adhering to good practice in this area can help a project developer, owner or operator implement additional benefits and benefit sharing programs in dialogue with affected communities so that benefits are demonstrably delivered to communities affected by the project.
Understanding good practice
International industry good practice in project benefits 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. Project Benefits is addressed in P-10 for the preparation stage, I-7 for the implementation stage and O-8 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. Project Benefits is addressed in Section 4.