Save the Mekong Coalition Calls for the Cancelation of the Luang Prabang Dam The Mekong is facing a crisis. Climate change and large-scale dams on the Mekong mainstream and tributaries are making Mekong’s flows and levels more unpredictable. From record lows in June and July to major flooding in parts of the basin in August and September, hydropower dams have exacerbated the impacts on the river and people. Large-scale dams, especially those planned for the Mekong mainstream, are a significant cause of – not the answer to – the Mekong crisis.
Save the Mekong, a coalition of non-government organizations, community-based groups and concerned citizens within the Mekong region, announces our intention to boycott the Mekong River Commission’s Prior Consultation process for the proposed Pak Lay hydropower project in Laos. Pak Lay is the fourth dam on the lower Mekong mainstream.
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.
On Monday 19 June, the Joint Committee of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) will meet for a special session to discuss the Prior Consultation process for the Pak Beng Dam, and the positions of MRC member countries as expressed in their formal reply forms. The meeting marks the end of the first 6 months of the Prior Consultation process for the Pak Beng project.
Located at the extreme southeastern end of the Mekong River where it approaches and empties into the South China Sea through a network of distributaries, the Mekong Delta has long been referred to as Vietnam’s “rice bowl” which is characterized by dominant fertile agriculturally-rich low-lands and what may be called a “biological treasure trove.” A majority of the Delta’s 20 million, ethnically diverse population rely on the River’s fish resources and rice production for their subsistence, with very little margin for error. As home to thousands of species of fish, bird, reptile, and mammal species, the Mekong Delta is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world. Tens of endangered species, such as the largest bird, Sarus crane, and giant catfish, thrive in this maze of wetlands, swamps, arroyos, and canals too. However, Vietnam’s Mekong Delta is now one of the world’s most fragile regions appearing most vulnerable to climate hazards, notably temperature rises and extreme drought followed by freshwater scarcity and salinity intrusion. More challenging is the fact that upstream dam-building and water diversion projects have caused severe and irreparable damage to the Delta, making the impacts of climate change become much more serious than what was assumed in prevailing climate change scenarios in Vietnam. As a result, the Delta has so much at stake due to huge water shortages, which in turn may lead to increased rate of salinity, inland ground depression, and humanitarian and other economic impacts.
The Save the Mekong Coalition includes members from across the Mekong River Basin. Our work is grounded in the understanding that the Mekong is a shared river, whose life-sustaining resources support millions of people throughout Southeast Asia and substantially contribute to the social and economic well being of the region. The Save the Mekong Coalition and its members have monitored the decision-making processes for Lower Mekong mainstream dams, including participation in national and regional Prior Consultation meetings for the Xayaburi and Don Sahong Dams. Our experience has led to growing concern over the future of the Mekong River and her people.
On the occasion of Mekong River Commission’s (MRC) Regional Stakeholder Forum on the Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement (PNPCA) for the Pak Beng hydropower project and MRC Council Study (CS) on February 22-23, 2017 in Luang Prabang, Vietnamese Non-Government Organizations and individuals who are interested in sustainable water resource management in the Mekong region, present the following public statement to MRC:
Whether it is for power generation or irrigation, all upstream developments on the Mekong River put Vi?t Nam at risk as the last downstream country, experts said yesterday. Hence all countries in the Mekong River basin should rethink their approaches and adopt measures to minimise impacts on communities and the ecosystem, said Tr?nh Lê Nguyên, director of People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature), a Vietnamese non-governmental organisation.