International Hydropower Association (IHA)

International Hydropower Association (IHA)

International Hydropower Association (IHA)

The International Hydropower Association (IHA) works to build and share knowledge on the role of hydropower in renewable energy systems, responsible freshwater management and climate change solutions. With members active in more than 80 countries, IHA is a non-profit organisation, working with a network of members and partners to advance sustainable hydropower. Membership is open to individuals and organisations who support its mission.

Company details

Chancery House, St Nicholas Way, Sutton , London , SM1 1JB United Kingdom
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Business Type:
Professional association
Industry Type:
Hydro Power
Market Focus:
Globally (various continents)

The International Hydropower Association (IHA) is a non-profit organisation, working with a network of members and partners to advance sustainable hydropower.

IHA's mission is to build and share knowledge on the role of hydropower in renewable energy systems, responsible freshwater management and climate change solutions. IHA champions continuous improvement in the hydropower sector through dialogue with all stakeholders.

Our work falls into two broad themes:

Sustainability which aims to promote and support sustainable practices in hydropower, including a balanced focus on the environmental, social and economic impacts and benefits of hydropower. This includes IHA's work on the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol and Hydro4LIFE.

Hydropower Development which examines and supports hydropower's evolving role in reliable renewable energy systems, bankable water-management projects, climate change protection, regional development and progressive energy and climate markets and incentives. This includes efforts to gather reliable hydropower statistics, evaluation of hydropower's role in a climate-constrained world, the water-energy nexus, optimisation of renewable systems and regional transboundary cooperation.

IHA was formed in 1995 under the auspices of UNESCO as a forum to promote and share good practice and further knowledge about hydropower.

Today IHA has a Central Office based in London, a regional office in South America and a national office in China. In addition, IHA has consultative and/or observer status with the United Nations agencies addressing water, energy and climate change.

The Association is governed by a Board, which comprises 18 elected members, up to six co-opted members and one Executive Director. The IHA President and up to six Vice Presidents are selected from the elected Board members.

IHA's mission

IHA advances hydropower's role in sustainable solutions for clean energy, responsible freshwater management, and climate change.

IHA's values

  • collaborating with diverse stakeholders;
  • building knowledge and sharing information;
  • championing good practice and continuous improvement.

The world is facing a water and energy crisis. Around the globe, 1.1 billion people do not have access to clean water, while 1.2 billion live without access to electricity.

The dominance of fossil fuels in the global energy supply drives climate change, exacerbating these problems. With the global demand for energy expected to increase by up to 61 per cent by 2050, the world must look towards a sustainable, renewable mix of energy sources.

Hydropower, the world’s largest source of renewable electricity, has an increasingly important role to play as part of a mixed energy portfolio in adapting to climate change.

Development is challenging on many fronts. While the way forward for hydropower must be economically and technically robust, its footprint must be one that respects the environment and makes people’s lives better.

Our vision is a world where water and energy services are delivered to all in a sustainable way.

How will we achieve it?

With over 260 of the world’s river basins shared by two or more countries, the environments in which we operate transcend borders, while the rise of instant communications has deepened our ability to connect both regionally and globally.

We are working with a truly international community. Developers and operators, governments and banks, academia and NGOs, national and international organisations – all of these groups have unique expertise and perspectives to contribute.

Our mission is to advance sustainable hydropower by building and sharing knowledge on its role in renewable energy systems, responsible freshwater management and climate change solutions. We recognise that the world is changing, and a mixture of expertise and experience is needed to progress; we cannot achieve our vision without building and sharing knowledge.

We use our global reach to seek out and champion best practices in sustainable hydropower development, and to cultivate a vibrant, inclusive and proactive hydropower community.

Our mission is to advance sustainable hydropower by building and sharing knowledge on its role in renewable energy systems, responsible freshwater management and climate change solutions. We achieve this through four strategic objectives:

  • Advancing policies and strategies that strengthen the sector’s performance
  • Building a vibrant, inclusive and proactive hydropower community
  • Creating an open, innovative and trusted platform for knowledge
  • Delivering value to members throughout the world

How we work

At the heart of all of our work we place three core values:

  • Openness
  • Integrity
  • Excellence

The people in our networks are central to these values. We shape our work to reflect the different sectors, regions and perspectives in our inclusive community.

The International Hydropower Association was created under the auspices of UNESCO in 1995. During two decades as the voice of sustainable hydropower, we have been part of a remarkable journey for the sector: the world’s installed hydropower capacity has grown from 625 GW to over 1,000 GW, catalysing growth and development, and improving people’s lives around the world.

The publication of the World Commission on Dams final report in 2000 marked the beginning of a new era for hydropower, with an increasing focus on sustainability and the participation of affected communities in project planning. In the years that followed the report, we participated in the United Nations Environmental Programme’s Dams and Development Project.

In the wake of our growing activities, we employed our first full-time member of staff in 2001, and we have continued to grow. In 2010 we opened new regional offices in China and Brazil, and in 2012 we expanded to 15 staff across five departments.

In 2004, we became a founding member of the International Renewable Energy Alliance (REN Alliance) along with our partners from the bioenergy, geothermal, solar and wind industries. The REN Alliance was established to advance the role of renewable energy systems, and continues to build influence today.

The publication of our first sustainability guidelines for hydropower projects in 2004, followed by the IHA Sustainability Protocol in 2006, was an important step in providing tools for developers to guide performance.

This work was the basis for our engagement in the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Forum, a multi-stakeholder body consisting of representatives of governments, commercial and development banks, social and environmental NGOs, and the hydropower sector. The forum, which we initiated in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Nature Conservancy (TNC), collaborated over three years to refine a new tool to measure and guide performance in the hydropower sector: the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol.

We have managed the roll-out and implementation of the protocol since its launch in 2011, and now work in partnership with 15 leading companies around the world to promote a better understanding of how it can be used in different local and regional contexts.

Building a community and creating a platform for knowledge in the hydropower sector have been central to our efforts in recent years. In 2007 we hosted our first world congress in Turkey, bringing together hundreds of the world’s leading hydropower decision-makers, policy-makers and influencers.

We have continued to stage the world congress every two years, moving around the globe: 2009 in Iceland, 2011 in Brazil, and 2013 in Malaysia. In 2015, the World Hydropower Congress took place in Beijing, China – one of the leading countries for hydropower development today.

The biennial World Hydropower Congress continues to serve as a key reference for the hydropower industry, as well as for decision-makers and thought leaders from government, civil society, academia and international organisations.