Despite Dolphin-Saving Plan, Dam Threat Remains
By The Cambodia Daily | April 28, 2014

A little more than two years after signing off on a scheme aimed at improving protection of the critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphin, experts said last week they were concerned that Mekong dams would see wholesale destruction of the population.

Mekong Summit Struggles to Halt Devastating Dams
Laos remains determined to move forward with dam construction that threatens the environment and food security.

By Tom Fawthrop April 09, 2014

With its extraordinary diversity, the mighty Mekong has long enchanted explorers and travellers. Not only do its currents carry life-giving sediment and nutrients, its waters have provided a living for countless generations.

But for how much longer? How much time is left before the Mekong changes forever? A massive dam-building program is unfolding that will unleash a cascade of 11 dams that will forever lock the river into a series of silent and stagnant reservoirs behind hydraulic walls.

In a clash between a Lao government trying to sell electricity to its energy-hungry neighbors and earn hard currency, and the need to protect and preserve the riverfs ecological riches and fisheries, conservation and food security is clearly losing. Construction on the Xayaburi Dam, the first on the Lower Mekong, got underway in 2012. Construction on a second dam, the Don Sahong, will start at the end of 2014. Work is moving forward faster than the completion of scientific studies needed to provide the evidence of gsignificant harm.h

Mekong leaders seeks sound judgment on development risks
Accelerating basin-wide studies to reduce negative impacts and battling natural disaster woes are among key priorities for Mekong nations

HO CHI MINH CITY, Viet Nam, 5th April 2014—Heads of government of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam today reaffirmed their commitment to the Mekong cooperation, to follow up the implementation of the Hua Hin Declaration of 2010, and set priorities for the Mekong River Commission, including the need to expedite studies and research for sound advice and recommendations on development that will increasingly place burdens on Mekong resources.

The Council Study on Sustainable Management and Development of the Mekong River, including the impacts of mainstream hydropower projects has been initiated by the MRC Council which comprises water and environment ministers at their annual Meeting in December 2011. The Council Study aims to provide a better picture on potential transboundary impacts due to mainstream developments.

gTo address such challenges, national efforts are not enough. We need to strengthen regional cooperation, particularly among the riparian countries, both upper and lower, through multilateral and sub-regional mechanisms such as the MRC,h said Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, whose country hosted the 2nd MRC Summit.

gWe note that the development of water resources of the Mekong River Basin has contributed largely to the socio-economic development of the region, such as for navigation, energy and food production, but also has negative environmental and social impacts in the Basin that need to be fully and effectively addressed,h the leaders said in the Ho Chi Minh City Declaration they adopted at the 2nd MRC Summit.

The MRC will focus on avoiding, reducing and mitigating risks to river ecology, food security, livelihoods and water quality posed by intensive agriculture, aquaculture and irrigation as well as hydropower, navigation and other development activities, the Declaration says.

The document acknowledges the progress made since the 1st Summit in Hua Hin in 2010 and reiterates the need for the Member Countries to work through the mechanisms of the MRC to manage the shared waters.

gThe MRC should be measured in how it fosters international cooperation and in the end how the outcomes of the cooperation is producing improvements in society, the environment and economic development,h said Hans Guttman, Chief Executive Officer of the Mekong River Commission Secretariat.

The leaders also prioritised further efforts to reduce the risks of floods and droughts and the effects of sea level rise in the Mekong Basin .

In battling the effects of natural disaster, leaders stressed that the Mekong Countries recognise that climate change will continue to alter the hydrological regime of the basin and consequently effect livelihoods and economies in the region.

The MRC will look ahead and set a clear direction, identifying new opportunities and addressing challenges to come up with the next strategic plan and to engage more meaningfully not only with development partners but also all other stakeholders, especially civil society.

The heads of government reaffirmed their political commitment to implement the 1995 Mekong Agreement and commit to enhance and strengthen the MRCfs relationships and cooperation with Dialogue Partners, China and Myanmar and Development Partners.

Note to editors:

The 2nd Summit gathers Prime Ministers of MRC Member Countries, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam and delegations from China and Myanmar along with other regional leaders, water experts and diplomats to address the most pressing issues on the Mekong River and its resources and set strategic directions and policy for the MRC.

Summary of the Ho Chi Minh Declaration Water, Energy and Food security in the context of climate change for the Mekong River Basin April 5 2014

The Heads of the MRC Governments reaffirm the importance of the sustainable use and management of the water and related resources of the Mekong River Basin , and their political commitment to implement the 1995 Mekong Agreement, and also recognise the achievements made since the last Summit . The Declaration highlights the following issues:

·Regional opportunities and challenges over the next decade including population growth, increasing demand for water, food and energy and climate change. This will place burdens on the Mekong resources. New cooperation opportunities with other regional and international initiatives will be explored to face these challenges.

·Priority areas of action including the implementation of the MRCfs Council Study on Sustainable Management and Development of the Mekong River Basin, including the impacts of mainstream hydropower projects, and the Mekong Delta Study initiated by Viet Nam; furthering efforts in disaster risk reduction of floods and droughts; measures to maintain good water quality and avoid, reduce and mitigate risks to river ecology, food security and livelihoods; improving the implementation of the MRC Procedures; expanding cooperation with Dialogue and Development Partners.

·Moving ahead by committing to strengthen the role of the MRC in integrated water resources management and supporting the decentralisation process aimed at self-financing by 2030; prioritising capacity building for the Member Countries.

The Heads of Government agree to task the MRC Council to ensure the effective implementation of the Declaration through practical programmes and projects. The 3rd MRC Summit will take place in 2018 in Cambodia . The MRC is the intergovernmental body responsible for cooperation on the sustainable management of the Mekong Basin whose members include Cambodia , Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam . It is established to promote cooperation amongst the Member Countries and thus it is not a supra-national or regulatory body.

For more information please contact:
Mr. Surasak Glahan, Communication Officer
Office of the Secretariat in Vientiane Tel: +84 (0) 1677436063 (Vietnamese mobile number until April 5th)
Concerns mount over Lao dam projects
When the leaders of the Mekong River Commission countries meet in Hanoi on Saturday, anti-dam protesters will be urging them to call a halt to the construction of the Xayaburi dam and to put a hold on Laos's plans to build a second dam, the Don Sahong.

Mekong Leaders Pliancy over Mainstream Dams a Blow for the River
[Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam] In response to the news from the 2nd Summit of the Mekong River Commission that Mekong leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to the sustainable use of the Mekong River and will expedite studies to better address threats facing the basin, International Rivers released the following statement from Southeast Asia Program Director Ame Trandem:

gWhile International Rivers is pleased that Mekong leaders recognize the negative environmental and social impacts that hydropower development poses to the mainstream, we are disappointed that leaders did not condemn the current rush of dam building on the Mekong mainstream. The ability to make informed decisions, based on sound data and scientific study, should be a prerequisite for starting deliberations over whether to build dams on the Mekong River mainstream. Words without actions are meaningless; the Lao government must stop its free reign of Mekong mainstream dam building. We expect all construction on the Xayaburi and Don Sahong dams to end immediately and that no further decisions or actions be taken until the Mekong River Commission Council Study, Vietnamfs Delta Study, and transboundary impact assessments for each project have been completed and the results have been comprehensively reviewed.h

gIn a press conference following the Summit, Vietnamfs Minister for Natural Resources and the Environment, Nguyen Minh Quang, informed reporters that Vietnam and Cambodia had re-iterated their position, made at the last MRC Joint Committee meeting, that all projects on the Mekong mainstream, including the Don Sahong Dam, should undergo prior consultation according to the MRCfs PNPCA process. Vietnam recommended to the Lao government that the Don Sahong Dam should not move forward until after Vietnamfs Delta Study is finished. Vietnam's statement highlights the backward approach that is currently being taken to dam building on the Mekong. This build first and study second approach is not the path to sustainable development.h

Concerns mount over Lao dam projects
When the leaders of the Mekong River Commission countries meet in Hanoi on Saturday, anti-dam protesters will be urging them to call a halt to the construction of the Xayaburi dam and to put a hold on Laos's plans to build a second dam, the Don Sahong.

Cambodia to call for moratorium on Laos' dam during MRC summit
Apr 04,2014 PHNOM PENH, April 4 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia will probably call for a moratorium on the Laos' 260-megawatt Don Sahong dam development project on the lower Mekong River during the second Summit of the Mekong River Commission (MRC), to be held on April 4 and 5 in Ho Chi Minh City of Vietnam, a senior official said Friday.

Controversial Lao dam on Mekong River almost a quarter complete
April 3, 2014 2:13 pm Vientiane - Construction of the controversial Xayaburi Hydro-power plant, the first dam on the lower stretch of the Mekong River, is now 23 per cent complete, Lao media reports said Thursday.

Intervention urged for dam
Thu, 3 April 2014

Laignee Barron and Phak Seangly In anticipation of a regional summit this weekend, government officials and civil society have their sights locked on a controversial hydropower development just across the Cambodian border in Laos.

NGO Forum submitted an open letter yesterday urging Prime Minister Hun Sen to confront Laos about its Don Sahong hydropower project, which environmentalists have described as a potential disaster for the Mekongfs biodiversity and the food security the river provides to millions.

The letter contains more than 400 thumbprints collected during a march against the dam last weekend. gWe hope these thumbprints motivate the leader, as they are the evidence of direct victims from this dam,h Tek Vannara, executive director of NGO Forum, said.

The last-minute plea for action comes just days before the 2nd Summit of the Mekong River Commission in Ho Chi Minh City, where prime ministers from Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos are expected to discuss transboundary cooperation and sustainable development in the Lower Mekong Basin.

Environment Groups Plan to Oppose Laos Mega Dams
Gabrielle Paluch, VOA News 01 April 2014

BANGKOK, THAILAND — This week officials from Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand will meet to discuss the impact of planned hydropower dams on the lower Mekong region. But several environmental groups have already concluded the main Xayaburi dam in Laos will devastate communities that depend on the Mekong river for food, and they want to stop the project.

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