Press Releases

As Mekong Leaders Gather, Public Awaits Answers on Xayaburi Dam

Save the Mekong Press Release: For Immediate Release
1 May 2012

Phuket, Thailand – As the Mekong River Commission (MRC) member countries gather today for the MRC’s Mekong 2 Rio International Conference on Transboundary River Basin Management, the Save the Mekong coalition has called upon regional governments to immediately address the ambiguities that have been left unanswered with respect to the future of the Xayaburi Dam and other mainstream dams.

On April 20th, the Save the Mekong coalition sent letters to the MRC’s respective Council members and CEO Mr. Hans Guttman asking for clarification on whether the prior consultation process for the Xayaburi Dam remains open and whether approval has been granted to build the Xayaburi Dam. These concerns follow the April 17th announcement by Xayaburi Dam developer Ch. Karnchang that it had signed a $711 million construction contract with the Xayaburi Power Company, and that construction on the dam commenced on March 15, 2012.

“Ch. Karnchang has no right to build this project because no regional agreement has been made,” said Niwat Roykaew, Chair of the Chiang Khong Conservation Group in Thailand. “In December, the four governments agreed to postpone the decision on the dam, in order to carry out a transboundary impact assessment of the Mekong mainstream dams. Thailand and Laos must act decisively and demand a stop to all construction activities.”

The Save the Mekong coalition also expressed concern over reports that the Thai government had signed the Xayaburi Dam’s power purchase agreement and granted permission for state-owned Krung Thai Bank to fund this dam, which appears to be in direct violation with the 1995 Mekong Agreement. The coalition urged Thailand to immediately withdraw all involvement in the dam.

“The MRC’s prior consultation process is not finished, and yet construction is starting. Thailand and Laos are endangering the entire future of the Mekong River Basin,” said Pianporn Deetes, Thailand Campaign Coordinator for International Rivers. “Before regional cooperation becomes jeopardized, it’s time the four countries renew their commitment to work together to protect the Mekong.”

“The Xayaburi Dam is not on the agenda of the Mekong2Rio conference, but will be the elephant in the room,” said Youra Sun, Executive Director of My Village in Cambodia. “Now is the time to spotlight the urgent need for the Mekong governments to chart a clear political path forward on the Xayaburi Dam.”

Tu Dao Trong, a representative of Vietnam Rivers Network said, “If the Mekong governments really want to discuss the future of transboundary cooperation around the Mekong River, they first need to agree on an immediate halt to the Xayaburi Dam while further studies are underway. We hope this conference becomes an opportunity for real dialogue.”

The Save the Mekong coalition’s April 20th letter stated that “scientific evidence to date overwhelmingly supports our position that these dams will cause significant and irreparable damage to the Mekong River and the people who depend on it.” The coalition has called upon regional governments to work together to protect the Mekong River as the river is central to the lives, ecology, and cultures of the region.

The Save the Mekong coalition fully supports the actions of Thai villagers from the Mekong region, who have traveled to Phuket and will be presenting a petition to the MRC member governments this morning to raise awareness about the Xayaburi Dam and call for its cancellation.

Mekong 2 Rio is considered a key regional event in the run-up to the United Nations’ Rio+20 Summit on Sustainable Development that world leaders will attend in Brazil in June. The Xayaburi Dam has become one of the most controversial sustainable development issues in Southeast Asia.


  • Dr. Tu Dao Trong, Representative of Vietnam Rivers Network. T: +84 913 236 542, E:
  • Ms. Pianporn Deetes, Thailand Campaign Coordinator, International Rivers. T: +66 81 422 0111, E:
  • Mr. Niwat Roykaew, Chair of the Chiang Khong Conservation Group in Thailand. T: +66 89 955 7890, E:
  • Mr. Sun Youra, Executive Director, My Village, Cambodia, T: +855 16 590 111, E:

For more information: Read the letter to [Cambodia] [Laos] [Thailand] [Vietnam] [MRC CEO]

Save the Mekong Coalition Calls on MRC Council: Pass Resolution to Cancel Xayaburi Dam

Press Release: For Immediate Release

[6 December 2011] As the Ministers of the Mekong River Commission’s (MRC) Council prepare to meet tomorrow to discuss whether to proceed with the Xayaburi Dam, the Save the Mekong coalition, a network of civil society groups and NGOs from within the Mekong region and around the world, has sent a letter addressed to the MRC Council today urging them to pass a resolution calling for the cancellation of the Xayaburi Dam. The letter states that the Council meeting represents a final opportunity for the MRC member governments to demonstrate their commitment to the spirit and the legal duty of the 1995 Mekong Agreement to share the Mekong River and to prevent harm to the river’s ecosystems and the livelihood of its people.

Representing the Save the Mekong Coalition, the letter, co-signed by 39 civil society groups and NGOs, urges the governments to consider the significant opposition to the Xayaburi Dam that has been expressed by civil society and the wider public over the past three years. Over the last week, petitions representing nearly 50,000 people from within the region and around the world have called on the Lao and Thai Prime Ministers to cancel their plans to build and purchase electricity from the Xayaburi Dam.

“Our message is simple: Protecting the Mekong River is vital to ensuring healthy fisheries, abundant agriculture, and supporting the livelihoods and food security of millions of people in the region,” said Mr. Chhith Sam Ath of the NGO Forum on Cambodia. “As the first hydropower dam proposed for the Mekong River’s mainstream, the dam’s devastating impacts to river’s ecosystem, fisheries, and river-based livelihoods is likely to lead to serious cross-border conflict.”

The Save the Mekong coalition’s letter coincides with the release of three full-page advisements in the Bangkok Post, Phnom Penh Post and Cambodia Daily newspapers, in which the coalition calls on the Prime Ministers of Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Viet Nam to say no to the proposal to build the Xayaburi Dam, and instead to protect the Mekong River and its people. Given that the Mekong River is unparalleled in its biodiversity and rich fisheries, the advisements warn of the dire consequences that building the Xayaburi Dam and other Mekong dams will mean on the world’s largest freshwater fishery.

“Numerous scientific reports over the past two years have revealed the risky nature of damming the Mekong River. In view of this mounting evidence, rather than gamble with our future, the Council should lead the region towards a new vision for the river and the region, and carefully reconsider plans to build the mainstream dams” said Mr. Trinh Le Nguyen of Viet Nam’s People and Nature Reconciliation.

“The Mekong River’s rich resources and the ecosystem services it provides risk passing the point of collapse if the Xayaburi Dam and other mainstream dams are allowed to proceed. It is time for our governments to intervene and ask Laos to cancel plans to build the Xayaburi Dam and for Thailand to refuse to purchase its electricity, so that we still have fish left for the future,” said Mr. Ittipol Komesuk, Coordinator of Thailand’s Network of Thai People in Eight Mekong Provinces.

“Over the last year, the Xayaburi Dam has divided governments and people,” said Mr. Srisuwan Kuankachorn of Towards Ecological Recovery and Regional Alliance. “We urge regional leaders to take a precautionary approach by issuing a resolution calling for the cancellation of the Xayaburi Dam. In the end, it’s not a technical decision, but a political decision that will reshape politics in this tiny but problematic region of the world.”

Read the Save the Mekong letter to the MRC Council

Media Contacts:

Mr. Srisuwan Kuankachorn, Towards Ecological Recovery and Regional Alliance (TERRA), Bangkok, Thailand. Tel: +66 81 431 4525, E:

Ms. Shamali Guttal, Focus on the Global South, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Tel: +855 17 489 763, E:

Mr. Chhith Sam Ath, The NGO Forum on Cambodia, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Tel: +855 12 928 585, E:

Mr. Trinh Le Nguyen, People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature), Hanoi, Viet Nam. Tel: +84 912 095 045, E:

Mr. Ittipol Komesuk, Coordinator of Thailand’s Network of Thai People in Eight Mekong Provinces, Nongkhai Province, Thailand: Tel: +66 84 962 8586

Ms. Ame Trandem, International Rivers, Bangkok, Thailand. Tel: +66 86 882 2426, E:

The Save the Mekong coalition is a network of non-government organizations, community groups, academics, journalists, artists, fishers, farmers and ordinary people from within the Mekong countries and internationally. For more information on the coalition and the impacts of the planned Mekong mainstream dams in English and regional languages, please visit:

People and Nature Reconciliation | Office: 24 H2, Khu do thi moi Yen Hoa
Yen Hoa quarter, Cau Giay district, Hanoi, Vietnam
Phone: ++8424 3556-4001 | Fax: ++8424 3556-8941 | Email: