On 13 June, the Government of Laos formally notified the Mekong River Commission (MRC) of its intention to construct the Pak Lay dam on the mainstream of the Mekong River. The notification triggers the Prior Consultation procedure under the Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement (PNPCA) of the 1995 Mekong Agreement. Pak Lay is the fourth Mekong mainstream dam to be submitted for the procedure.
The Mekong River Commission (MRC), the only intergovernmental body mandated to sustainably manage and protect the Lower Mekong River, is on the brink of demise. While transboundary water governance has faced significant challenges in the region since the MRC was established in 1995, the Commission’s first real test came more recently with the start of the regional debate over plans to build a cascade of eleven mainstream dams on the Lower Mekong River. It was a test that the MRC has so far failed. The real question now, is will the MRC sink or swim? Just as the Mekong River ebbs and flows, can the MRC change the tide of decision-making to fit the urgent needs of a shared river basin where more than 60 million people are deeply dependent on the river functioning as it has for centuries: A key source of livelihoods, food security, and cultural identity?
Environmental non-government organizations (ENGOs) and national governments are key players in the political sphere surrounding issues of climate change and sustainable development. The relationships between the discourse on "climate change" and "sustainable development" and ENGOs and the state in both Vietnam and Bolivia provides a critical look into the ways in which these issues are approached in two highly-vulnerable countries with different political regimes
In August 2014, a 5.5 MW hydropower dam broke for the second time in Gia Lai Province. Luckily no one was killed. This isn’t the first time that dams have leaked or broken in Vietnam but what was striking was the fact that according to the article the construction company ignored basic safety consideration by building the dam in the wet season. As a result, the cement didn’t dry properly and couldn’t withstand the water pressure. After the dam failed for the first time in June 2013, the provincial government ordered the company to suspend construction. The company refused.
The Financial Times recently published an article entitled China: The road to reform. The first sentence reads: “For those who have to endure the toxic smog of northern China, it often comes as a surprise to learn that Chinese environmental laws and emissions regulations are some of the most stringent in the world.”