Vientiane, Lao PDR, 24 January 2018 – Forty-five representatives from the Mekong countries and hydropower developers and consultants met in Vientiane this week to discuss guidelines for mitigating environmental impacts and managing risks from hydropower projects in the lower Mekong basin (LMB).

Among many key elements of the guidelines discussed at the meeting are measures to mitigate impacts on hydrology, water quality, sediment, fisheries and aquatic ecology, and river geomorphology.

“These guidelines will be a valuable tool to improve the effectiveness of the assessment processes and address potential transboundary impacts of existing and proposed hydropower projects on the environment, fisheries and people livelihoods,” Mr. Pham Tuan Phan, Commission Chief Executive Officer, addressed the meeting that kicked-off on 22 January and ends tomorrow.

“Joint management of these projects by our member countries is very important, as it would make effective use of public investment for the best interest of the whole lower Mekong basin,” he continued, referring to a similar proposal made in August last year by hydropower developers at a Sustainable Hydropower Practice Forum #4: Dialogue with Hydropower Developers, held in Vientiane.

MRC member countries and hydropower developers and consultants atten the meeting2

The guidelines, when available at the end of March this year, will provide measures, best practice and the most recent impact mitigation approaches for the sustainable development of hydropower in the LMB.

They will also contribute to the review and update of the Commission’s existing Preliminary Design Guidance (PDG) for proposed mainstream dams in the LMB.

The updated PDG is expected to be approved by the Commission’s Joint Committee this August. Once approved, it will offer the Commission member countries and hydropower developers and consultants of proposed dams with an overview of the issues that the Commission will consider during the process of prior consultation under the 1995 Mekong Agreement.

The four-day long meeting also includes a training and consultation session that offers the participants an opportunity to develop a better understanding on options in the guidelines to minimize different impacts from hydropower projects. At this event, the MRC also informs hydropower developers and consultants on the applicability and usefulness of the PDG and solicit their feedback on its performance standards as it is necessary in the reviewing and updating process. 

The Commission through its former Initiative on Sustainable Hydropower undertook in January 2015 a ‘study on development of guidelines for hydropower environmental impact mitigation and risk management in the lower Mekong mainstream and tributaries’, known in short as ISH0306, to develop the guidelines. The study consists of four phases and includes a review and update process in which hydropower developers and consultants are an integral part.

Read this media release in Khmer, Lao, Thai and Vietnamese.

Note to editors:

The PDG is an assessment framework developed in 2009 and provides contemporary, research-based performance standards, design and operating principles for mitigation measures, as well as monitoring and adaptive management in hydropower projects. It has to date formed the basis for submissions and assessments under the Procedures on Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement of three mainstream dams, including the Xayaburi, Don Sahong and Pak Beng projects. The MRC is currently working to review and update it.

The MRC is an intergovernmental organization for regional dialogue and cooperation in the lower Mekong river basin, established in 1995 based on the Mekong Agreement between Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam. The organization serves as a regional platform for water diplomacy as well as a knowledge hub of water resources management for the sustainable development of the region.

For more information, please contact:

Mr. Sopheak Meas

Phone: +856-21-263263, ext. 4607
Mobile: +856-20-77779168