The hydropower tracker captures publicly reported allegations of environmental and human rights abuses relating to companies planning or operating hydropower plants (HPP) in the following Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) countries: Armenia, Georgia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. The geographical features of these countries, in particular their upstream position, means they have a significant impact on water access and other environmental factors across the wider region: many rivers form in and flow through these countries. The timeframe of allegations tracked is 2012-2022.
Allegations are primarily collected from articles published by international and local media outlets, and NGO reports. The tracker is predominantly based on materials available in English, Russian and Armenian, mainly due to the regional focus in our company selection process and organisational resource capacity.
What do we include?
Only publicly reported allegations of specific incidents or civil society actions against companies are captured—the tracker does not take into account information on general trends of abuse that cannot be tied specifically to one of the tracked companies’ operations. For each allegation, we identify the operating company involved in the alleged abuse and, when such information is publicly available, the parent company. Where the operating company is state-owned, the country’s government is mentioned as the parent. One allegation may include multiple human rights impacts. While allegations are based on actual events, in specific cases when risks of HPPs are not adequately addressed by companies/investors (resulting in accidents), potential impacts are also marked in the tracker (such as potential threat to community and worker health). Whenever an accident is refuted by the company/state, the 'access to information’ impact is recorded.
The main categories of data we capture are:
- descriptive information about the HPP, including the size of the operation (see here for definitions);
- the country of the incident;
- the project against which the allegation is raised;
- the companies related to that project (including parent company, subsidiary and financing institutions);
- the types of alleged abuses;
- the affected stakeholders.
We analyse each allegation against a set of 34 indicators of environmental and human rights abuses, which are sorted into five broad categories: Environmental impacts (access to water, water pollution, impacts on wildlife and species habitat, impact assessment, geological stability), Impacts on community (land rights, insufficient/inadequate consultation, Indigenous peoples, cultural issues, religious discrimination, displacement, gendered impacts, impacts on livelihoods, public health, poverty/development/economic and social rights, access to electricity), Human rights defenders and civil society (right to peaceful protest, deaths, injuries, beatings and violence, intimidation and threats, denial of freedom of expression/assembly, denial of freedom of movement, strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs), arbitrary detention), Labour rights and workers (occupational health and safety, work-related death, injuries, non-payment of wages, discrimination/diversity, freedom of association), Governance & transparency (access to information, corruption, complicity).
Seeking company responses
In line with the Resource Centre’s standard approach, we have made every effort to reach out to companies accused of abuse and asked them to respond to allegations made via our Company Response Mechanism (CRM), unless the company has already publicly commented on the case or if the abuse is the basis of a lawsuit or regulatory action.
Scope and limitations
The tracker captures publicly reported information on alleged abuses committed by companies. The Resource Centre does not independently verify the accuracy of allegations. When relevant and possible, the Resource Centre uses the Company Response Mechanism (see above) to seek responses from companies implicated in allegations. Similarly, the Resource Centre does not verify the accuracy of company responses. In cases where a company has no website or publicly available contact information, a CRM is not conducted.
The tracker does not purport to provide comprehensive information on all allegations of abuse against the projects and companies in question. It only captures information specific to certain companies and to specific HPPs. Furthermore, it only includes publicly available information on the Resource Centre website, as well as in local/regional media. Restrictions on civil society activism in certain parts of the world coupled with limited means of action for affected parties and fear of reprisals can lead to under-reporting of abuses.