"Hydro-Québec's achievement is an important step towards driving and embedding sustainability throughout the sector," highlighted Eddie Rich, CEO of the International Hydropower Association. "As a values-based membership association, IHA expects its members to certify all their new projects."
Governed by the multi-stakeholder Hydropower Sustainability Council, the Standard is the internationally recognised benchmark for sustainability in hydropower development. It is a rigorous and independent framework that evaluates and certifies hydropower projects against a wide range of environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria.
By aligning their projects with the HSS, developers ensure adherence to the San José Declaration on Sustainable Hydropower which says that "going forward, the only acceptable hydropower is sustainable hydropower."
The Standard also helps companies access finance through its alignment with the World Bank and IFC sustainability frameworks, the Climate Bonds Initiative and Renewables credits.
As the first project in the world to achieve the Gold-level certification of the Standard, Eastmain-1 Development can claim to be providing a net benefit to the ecology, climate and community. By going beyond compliance with benchmarks on transparency, stakeholder engagement and environmental stewardship, Hydro-Québec sets a prime example of the core principles upheld by IHA.
"Respect for Indigenous peoples is a fundamental requirement of the Hydropower Sustainability Standard," said Julie Boucher, Vice President – Sustainability, Community Relations and Communications at Hydro-Québec.
"We are honored that the Cree communities that worked with us during the construction and environmental follow-up phases accepted to engage in the certification process."
IHA encourages all its members to follow Hydro-Québec's example and certify their projects against the HSS. By collectively adopting and demonstrating sustainable practices, IHA members can solidify hydropower's essential role in developing net zero.