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A new sustainability fund, using the Hydropower Sustainability ESG Gap Analysis Tool (HESG), will aid hydropower project developers and operators to benchmark and raise their social and environmental performance.

The hydropower fund announced on 19 February that it is now open for proposals.

Project proposals will be accepted up until 20 April 2020 from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas.

The Hydropower Sustainability ESG Assessment Fund will award a total of 1 million Swiss Francs ($1.02 million) to 40 or more hydropower projects between 2020 and 2024.

The first tranche of funding of CHF 250,000 ($254,000) in 2020 will be made available for eligible projects in the following countries: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Colombia, Egypt, Ghana, Indonesia, Kosovo, Kyrgyz Republic, North Macedonia, Peru, Serbia, South Africa, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

The initiative is managed by the International Hydropower Association’s sustainability division and funded by Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

Successful recipients will receive a grant to part-finance the cost of commissioning an independent project assessment using the Hydropower Sustainability ESG Gap Analysis Tool (HESG).

Example of the HESG tool report scorecard.

This tool is based on the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol and governed by a multi-stakeholder coalition of NGOs, governments, banks and multilateral institutions.

The tool enables project proponents and operators to demonstrate that they are meeting international good practice standards across 12 assessment areas including biodiversity, water quality, climate mitigation and resilience, infrastructure safety, labour conditions, indigenous peoples, resettlement, communications and consultation.

The grant will co-finance independent assessors, who are accredited by IHA and a governance council, to carry out an assessment using the HESG gap analysis tool. This involves a site visit and interviews with stakeholders, and produces a concluding report and gap management plan.

Are you eligible to apply to the fund?

Projects under preparation and development, as well as those already in operation, are all eligible for the grant. Applicants will need to demonstrate a strong track record or commitment to sustainability and show that their project aligns with national or regional development policies.

Joao Costa, the senior sustainability specialist at IHA, said: “This initiative will encourage renewable energy proponents to draw upon international good practice when planning and implementing hydropower projects. “Commissioning an HESG assessment helps to guide developers and operators to address any gaps in environmental and social performance. Going through this process will ultimately demonstrate a project’s sustainability and help unlock green finance.”

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Daniel Menebhi, Switzerland’s SECO programme manager, said: “Recognising the important role sustainable hydropower has to play in addressing climate change and enabling economic development, Switzerland supports the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol and its derivatives, including the HESG gap analysis tool, which is the subject of this call [for proposals].

“Switzerland now funds an extensive capacity development programme in selected countries for Swiss economic development cooperation and we are pleased to co-finance HESG assessments for at least 40 promising hydropower projects over the next four years.”

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Find more information on the HESG here

Project proposals will be accepted up until 20 April 2020.

Learn about the Hydropower Sustainability ESG Gap Analysis Tool and how to apply to the fund: hydropower.org/esg-tool.

Find out more: www.hydrosustainability.org