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16 April 2020

An innovative environmental stewardship scheme from Brookfield Renewable and Canada’s First Nation ‘Namgis community is helping to safeguard local fish species in British Columbia.



The Kokish hydroelectric facility is located on northeastern Vancouver Island, on Canada’s Pacific coast. The run-of-river facility is owned and operated by Kwagis Power, a collaboration between Brookfield Renewable Partners and the ‘Namgis First Nation.

Commissioned in 2014, Kokish has an installed capacity of 45 MW, generating enough clean renewable energy to power 13,000 homes annually.

One of the standout features of the hydropower project, apart from its unique collaboration with the ‘Namgis First Nation, has been its commitment to environmental stewardship involving the design of new ‘fish-first’ technologies.

“Respecting the environment was a priority during construction and its subsequent operation,” says Richard St-Jean, Vice-President for Generation Management at Brookfield Renewable, which is a member of the International Hydropower Association (IHA).

“Great care was taken not only to protect, but also to enhance the fish habitat and fisheries resources in the Kokish River watershed,” says St-Jean. “In fact, project planning began in 2004 and was followed by years of studying the river system, gathering data and preparing engineering and environmental plans.”

The Kokish River is home to Coho, Chinook, Chum, Pink and Sockeye salmon, as well as to Cutthroat, Steelhead and Rainbow trout, all important species for the ‘Namgis First Nation who have relied on these species for food throughout history.

To ensure that fish could continue to migrate, and to minimise the impact on the environment, the innovative design of the facility included a fish ladder, which allows fish to swim upstream, and an elaborate Coanda screen designed and tested to prevent fish from entering the intake box. These features ensure the safe passage of fish both upstream and downstream.

According to St-Jean, the Kokish project is “not only a model of how sustainable engineering can effectively eliminate and environmental impacts, it is also a great example of how the public, First Nations communities and the private sector can collaborate and work on a renewable power project that improves our energy infrastructure.”

Since operation, the project has won several environmental and social responsibility and engineering awards, including the 2019 Clean Energy BC Environmental Stewardship Award, as well as the 2015 Social Responsibility Award from the Canadian Electricity Association and the 2015 Award of Excellence of the Canadian Consulting Engineering Awards.

“The Kokish project is one of the most environmentally complex run-of-river hydroelectric projects that I have worked on since starting in this industry over a decade ago,” says Ian Murphy, Project Manager for Ecofish Research, a leading environmental consultancy.

“In my opinion, the application of a diligent, science-based approach was the key to successfully overcoming complex environmental challenges that were faced by the project team.”

The project is also well-received by the ‘Namgis First Nation, whose livelihoods and cultural heritage have been respected as a result.

“The health and well-being of our lands, waters and wildlife is always priority for ‘Namgis,” says Bill Cranmer, Chief of the ‘Namgis First Nation.

“I am proud and confident of the work we have done on this project. I believe that we have embarked on a strong economic opportunity for the north island, that will ultimately prove to enhance and protect all species of fish who call Kokish home.”

For more information on this project, download Brookfield Renewable’s 2019 ESG Report

Quick Facts: Kokish hydropower plant

  • Design: Run-of-River with a 9.2km Penstock from the Intake to the Powerhouse

  • Gross head: 240 m

  • Design Flow: 25 m3/s

  • Turbines: 4 x 11.25 MW Pelton (Impulse)

  • Installed Capacity: 45 MW

  • Annual Net Energy: 138 GWh

  • Construction completed: 2014 



New deadline for applications is 1 June 2020

6 April 2020 – The deadline for the Hydropower Sustainability ESG Assessment Fund announced in February has been extended to 1 June 2020.

The decision comes as a response to the general disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“In a moment where we all had to make adjustments in our personal lives and professional activities, we understand a deadline extension is fair for all applicants. This will hopefully give everyone more time to plan, prepare and submit proposals,” said Joao Costa, Senior Sustainability Specialist at IHA.


All criteria of the initial Call for Proposal are upheld, and assessments can be conducted any time up to 31 December 2021.

The fund was launched to aid hydropower project developers and operators in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas to benchmark and raise their social and environmental performance.

Under the initiative, a total of 1 million Swiss Francs (USD 1.02m) will be awarded to 40 or more hydropower projects between 2020 and 2024.

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

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

The first tranche of funding of CHF 250,000 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.

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.

Learn about the Hydropower Sustainability ESG Gap Analysis Tool and how to apply to the fund:

Find out more:


2 April 2020

The next United Nations climate conference (COP26), to be hosted by the UK government in November 2020, has been postponed due to the worldwide effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the organisers have said

The International Hydropower Association (IHA), an official observer organisation, recognises the need for this unprecedented decision, which will see the summit rescheduled to an as-yet-unconfirmed date in 2021.


In a statement, IHA Chief Executive Eddie Rich said: “Given the present global health and economic situation, the organisers of COP26 have made the right decision to postpone this year’s conference. 

“While Covid-19 is our most pressing threat, with the tragic impacts on families everywhere requiring urgent action, we must not lose sight of the existential threat to the planet posed by climate change. The tireless efforts currently being deployed to beat Coronavirus show us that, in times of crisis, the seemingly impossible can quickly become possible.

“The worldwide response to Covid-19 will rely on government stimulus packages to kickstart national economies. These must be in line with the carbon reduction commitments made in the Paris Agreement. Investing in clean energy infrastructure will support workers, families and communities today, while helping to secure our planet’s future.

“Governments, business and civil society stakeholders must now consider the policy frameworks required to support the green growth economy and prioritise vital public and private investment in sustainable and renewable energy projects. This will mean considering ways to incentivise finance and reduce barriers to development, while ensuring that new projects meet internationally recognised environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance standards.

“The hydropower sector, the largest contributor to total renewable electricity generation, will continue to play its part in providing climate change solutions. Sustainable hydropower will provide affordable, clean energy and will accelerate the adoption of other renewables, while safely managing freshwater supplies and protecting communities against floods and drought.

“Now, more than ever, collaboration and dialogue are needed to advance global sustainable energy and the transformation towards a low-carbon energy future. IHA, under the mandate given to us by our members to advance sustainable hydropower, will continue working vigorously with our members and partners to deliver the ambition needed to tackle present and future threats.”

Read Eddie Rich's blog on how the hydropower sector is playing a critical role during the Covid-19 pandemic.

27 March 2020

Exploring the theme of ‘Water and Climate Change’, UN Water’s annual report on World Water Day on 22 March 2020 highlighted that hydropower forms an essential part of the solution to climate change.

“Hydropower will continue playing a role in climate change mitigation and adaptation of the energy sector,” the World Water Development Report stated, acknowledging the need for low-carbon renewable energy.

The paper recognised the flexibility offered by hydropower projects in power generation, allowing for better integration of variable electricity delivered by wind and solar power into the grid.

Moreover, multipurpose hydropower reservoirs “contribute to flow regulation, flood control and availability of water for irrigation,” the report said.

To maximise their role in mitigating climate change, hydropower projects need to be developed and operated sustainably, taking into account biodiversity, river ecology and hydrology, sediment transport, and local livelihoods, as well as greenhouse gas emissions, the paper noted.

This is where the internationally recognised Hydropower Sustainability Tools and associated IHA tools and guidelines have a role to play in strengthening hydropower’s economic, social and governance performance.

The Hydropower Sustainability Tools exist to ensure that hydropower projects can be built in accordance with good and best practice. These tools comprise Guidelines on Good International Industry Practice (HGIIP), an Assessment Protocol (HSAP) and ESG Gap Analysis Tool (HESG).

Welcoming the report, Eddie Rich, CEO of IHA said, “To address climate change, electricity needs to be significantly decarbonised.  This has only been achieved where there has been a significant contribution from hydropower.  As the World Water Development Report highlights, we don’t just need more hydropower development – it has to be environmentally and socially sustainable.”

UN Water also released a Climate Change and Water Policy Brief for World Water Day which recognised that IHA’s Hydropower Sector Climate Resilience Guide published in 2019, “offers a methodology for identifying, assessing and managing climate risks to enhance the resilience of hydropower projects."

The GHG Reservoir (G-res) Tool, launched by IHA in 2017, allows companies, investors and consultants to report on the carbon footprint of a reservoir. Using readily available input data, the tool provides a cost-effective way to more accurately assess net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Maria Ubierna, Research & Policy Focal Point at IHA said, "We will continue to provide the necessary tools to the renewable energy sector to become ready for the challenges that climate change poses. Hydropower projects of all types and sizes can deliver services and benefit society in a climate-resilient and low-carbon way."

Read UN World Water Development Report 2020

World Water Day


Message from President Roger Gill

Covid-19 will significantly impact our industry. It will hamper global supply chains, delay construction and temporarily reduce demand. Furthermore, low oil prices are back on the agenda.

We are yet to see or understand the depth or length of the crisis on hydropower. However, we must continue to focus on long-term planning and make effective use of our time during the crisis. 

Covid-19 will reset our society and economy. There will be a rethink about energy systems and the pathways towards decarbonisation. There will be a rethink about our global interconnectivity and how we meet the sustainable development goals. 

IHA will be ready to voice the role of sustainable hydropower in delivering a better post-Covid society.

Roger Gill, President of IHA

Message from CEO Eddie Rich

This is a challenging time for everyone – for individuals affected by the virus, for the global economy, for businesses and for the hydropower sector more generally.
Our thoughts are with those facing personal and business challenges. The world is learning a lot about itself from this pandemic, and there is clearly going to be a lot of pain over the next few months or even longer.  
Throughout this crisis, IHA will continue to support our members and partners and work to advance sustainable hydropower. 
All our staff are now working from home until future notice. Travel has been cancelled for the next 30 days and the next IHA Board meeting on 13 May will be held virtually. But while our ability to organise or attend physical events is curtailed, we will remain the voice of the sustainable hydropower sector, building and sharing knowledge and delivering services digitally.
You can connect with our team as normal via email, through our website, through our online community Hydropower Pro, and through our Knowledge Networks. In the coming weeks we will be launching new publications and developing and delivering new online events and training courses.
As the hydropower sector, like the rest of the energy sector, grapples with the new global reality, we want to hear from our members and partners. How have you been impacted, and what actions are you taking or do you expect to take to mitigate these impacts? 
Talk to IHA and we will be your voice on the international stage. 
Eddie Rich, CEO of IHA 

19 March 2020