News / 25 June 2014

Ministers, save the Mekong!

The Mekong River - one of the most important rivers in Asia - is under great threat. Laos, Thailand and Cambodia want to build eleven large hydropower dams on the river’s mainstream. These dams would disrupt the river and jeopardise the lives of millions of people who depend on it for their livelihood. On June 26, Ministers of Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam will gather on a meeting of the Mekong River Commission Council (MRC) in Bangkok. The MRC is responsible for the management of the river basin.This is why  the ‘Save the Mekong coalition’ – a coalition of NGO’s - has issued a statement, calling upon the Prime Ministers to work together to address the economic and ecological threats  these dams will pose.

Building of dams underway without prior consultation or research

The coalition requests that immediate action be taken to cancel the planned mainstream dams, including the ones that are already under construction. In 2011, Laos started constructing the Xayaburi dam without informing other states.  Construction of the Don Sahong dam on the border of Laos and Cambodia has started as well, despite the fact that the MRC secretariat stated that more research the ecological impact of dams on the river basin would be needed. Moreover, there is a lot of opposition against the construction of these dams. Tens of thousands of people have expressed their concern about the Xayaburi dam through protests, letters and petitions. Unfortunalely, until now  this doesn’t seem to have made the government of Laos change its plans and actions.



Earlier this year, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia urged Laos to do more research on the harmful effects of the dams, but the negotiators failed to reach an agreement. At the upcoming meeting, the MRC Council is scheduled to make a decision whether the Don Sahong dam in Laos must be stopped, at least until the requested research and consultation have been carried out.  Pieter Jansen of Both ENDS has been working closely together with the Save the Mekong coalition: “We urge the government of Laos to stop the construction of big dams in the river. These large hydropower projects sacrifice the environment and the livelihoods of communities in the name of development. Decisions on hydropower projects are therefore not the exclusive domain of governments, but require prior consultation of all the people affected by these decisions.”


Full Statement of the Save the Mekong coalition

REUTERS Newsitem 24 June 2014 'Thai court takes villagers' case against power firm, Laos dam'

Website Save the Mekong coalition

Fact sheet: 'ADB and the Greater Mekong Subregion Program: Hydropower'

Newsitem Both ENDS 7 April 2014: Conference Mekong River fails to stop construction dams

Newsitem Both ENDS 5 August 2011: Illegal construction Xayaburi dam

Newsitem Both ENDS June 2010: How to save the Mekong 



Photo: Mobilus In Mobili on Flickr

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