Statement of the Save the Mekong Coalition for the 23rd MRC Council Meeting

On the occasion of the 23rd Meeting of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) Council, the Save the Mekong Coalition has issued a Statement to express our serious concern over the ongoing development of hydropower projects on the Mekong mainstream, despite unresolved issues over transboundary and cumulative impacts of projects already under construction and a breakdown in shared regional decision-making. We are further concerned about the status of the MRC Council Study, intended to inform decisions regarding development on the Mekong River, and request information on the status of the study, as well as of the review of the 1995 Mekong Agreement’s Procedures by the MRC’s Joint Platform.

The decision-making processes for the Xayaburi and Don Sahong dams, now under construction on the Mekong mainstream in Lao PDR, ignited significant controversy within the Mekong region and internationally. Requests for information and concerns over project impacts expressed during the Prior Consultation procedures were not formally addressed, including calls for extension of the consultation period, thorough baseline information, and studies of transboundary impacts. Both projects proceeded despite the absence of agreement or resolution of concerns within the MRC’s Joint Committee and Council.

Photo Credit: PanNature
Photo Credit: PanNature

 

The Mekong River is a vital shared resource for the region. There is an urgent need for change in the decision-making processes that are informing hydropower development in the Mekong Basin to ensure a sustainable future for the river and her people.

We call on the Mekong governments and the Mekong River Commission to:

·         Prioritize participation and consultation on the Council Study, expedite completion of the Council Study and disseminate ongoing results to the public, ensuring that these findings and those of the Mekong Delta Study inform further decision affecting the future of the river;

·         Prioritize organizational reform, including an assessment of the future of the MRC and the 1995 Agreement, with participation by the public and Mekong communities. The Mekong Agreement and procedures must be transparently reviewed and adapted in accordance with regional processes and developments in international law.

·         Halt further decision-making over Mekong mainstream dams, until such a time as decisions can be informed by and based upon meaningful consultation, particularly with local project-affected communities, and sound basin-wide studies which consider the transboundary and cumulative impacts of mainstream dams.

Vietnamese version of the Statement

Open Letter from Save the Mekong Coalition to the developers of the Don Sahong Dam

The Save the Mekong Coalition has issued an Open Letter to the developers of the Don Sahong Dam to express our serious and ongoing concerns over the development of the project.

For a project with a relatively low generating capacity, due to its location in an area critical to Mekong fish migration, the potential impacts of the Don Sahong Dam on regional fisheries are severe. The food security of thousands of people in the Mekong Basin is dependent on many of the migratory fish species which have traditionally passed through the Hou Sahong channel. Inadequate information has been made available to date regarding the scale and scope of the project’s impacts and the monitoring efforts that are informing the project’s ‘adaptive and flexible approach’ to impact mitigation.

Furthermore, we are concerned that the developer is considering not implementing all the mitigation measures outlined in the project’s 2013 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

Although the developers have stated that extensive fish monitoring will be undertaken, limited information has been made available regarding baseline data and the ongoing monitoring of fish species and their migration patterns. Recent studies on the company website do not include reports detailing monitoring data and analysis since project construction commenced in January.

People potentially affected by the project currently have little means to seek accountability. This includes transparency over the project’s impacts and guarantees that the full range of measures available will be implemented to mitigate adverse impacts on fish migration and the threats to local communities and regional food security.

We therefore call on the project developers to:

  • Confirm that all necessary measures, including screen and bypass systems to divert fish from entering the Hou Sahong channel and turbines, are being implemented to ensure mitigation of the project impacts is as effective as possible;
  • Release details of the fish screen and bypass system design and information as to how the measures will be developed to cater for fish species in the area;
  • Release the results of ongoing fisheries monitoring studies that show how fish migration behaviour is adapting to project construction;
  • Halt construction of the project until comprehensive information regarding the project’s environmental and social impacts and addressing the concerns raised by Mekong governments has been made publicly available.

The open letter in Vietnamese.


For more information please contact Maureen Harris at International Rivers: mharris@internationalrivers.org.

 

Open Letter from Save the Mekong Coalition to MRC Development Partners

In advance of the Mekong River Commission’s Informal Donor Meeting this week, the Save the Mekong Coalition writes the open letter to express serious and ongoing concern over the outstanding issues and questions surrounding hydropower dam construction on the mainstream of the Mekong River.

The Coalition calls on Mekong River Commission developments partners to:

  • Renew their calls to the MRC to effect the release of the current designs for the Xayaburi dam and clarification of the status of the Prior Consultation process for the Don Sahong Dam;
  • Require reform of the MRC’s procedures before any further project is commenced, including requirements for comprehensive assessments and release of information, meaningful public participation and the transparent resolution of disputes;
  • Reconsider their support to the MRC if it remains unable to fulfil the purpose of ensuring adherence to the spirit and principles of the 1995 Mekong Agreement.

The Open Letter: EnglishThai versions, and Vietnamese news on the letter (updated).

Leaders of 6 Mekong Countries Must Listen to the People!

Statement of the Thai People in Eight Mekong Provinces

Listen to Downstream Communities
Stop All Mekong Dams
Implement Transboundary Impacts Studies

Mekong River is the mother of lives and the giver of local economies in 8 provinces of Thailand, from the Golden Triangle in Chiang Saen, Chiang Rai Province to Chiang Khan, Loei Province and Khong Chiam, Ubonratchatani Province. But the construction of hydropower dams in Yunnan, China—since the first dam and now a total of 6 completed dams out of the 15 planned projects—Mekong River has lost its nature to cascade hydropower dams and navigation of large cargo ships for the past 20 years and counting.

Today, the leaders of all Mekong countries gather together in China for the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation meeting—an initiative led by China. We, The Network of Thai People in Eight Mekong Provinces who have been monitoring development projects in the Mekong River with Thai communities, call the Thai and the Mekong governments to:

  • Admit and immediately mitigate impacts caused by China’s totalitarian water management on the upper Mekong River/Lancang that have happened already for many years, especially transboundary impacts posed by hydropower projects and water release for Chinese large cargo ships navigation. These development projects fail to recognize local communities’ rights and unprecedented environmental impacts downstream.
  • Immediately find resolutions for existing transboundary impacts and mitigation measures for damages and losses caused by unseasonal abrupt water level fluctuations—including flooding due to dam discharge and dry water level and rapids blasting during the development of Mekong Navigation Project.
  • Stop and suspend all dam projects in the lower Mekong basin. These projects have ignored to respect participations of the Mekong people who dependent on the river to sustain their livelihoods and economies. Public participation must be implemented and enforced to prevent grave environmental and social impacts on downstream communities.
  • Create an accountable and participatory water management mechanism that foster inclusive public participation especially from riparian communities who are directly affected by the projects.

Mekong River is the Mother River of Southeast Asia. We have coexisted and relied on her since the ancestral time. We do not want anyone to take our Mother River away and use it simply for political interests.

The Network of Thai People in Eight Mekong Provinces
23 March 2016

More than 4,500 Mekong local people sign the statement on Mekong dams

Awaiting governments to confirm their attendance at the Mekong People’s Forum next week.

5 November 2015 – On 25 September 2015, local people’s networks in Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam released a joint statement entitled: “Mekong governments: Listen to the people! – Statement by local people on dams in the Mekong Region” (attached). The statement calls on the governments of the Mekong region to recognize the severe impacts of large-scale hydropower dams on the Mekong mainstream and tributaries within the Mekong basin and to listen to the concerns of local communities who would be affected by these projects.

Community lawsuit against Xayaburi Dam at Thailand's Administrative Court in June 2014. Photo by: Stop Xayaburi Dam
Community lawsuit against Xayaburi Dam at Thailand’s Administrative Court in June 2014. Photo by: Stop Xayaburi Dam.

“We request direct dialogue between the Mekong region’s governments and peoples’ representatives through public forums,” reads the statement. “We call on governments to come to a public forum which will be organized and attended by Mekong local peoples’ representatives; to listen and learn from us about the impacts of the dams.”

The original statement was signed by 15 local representatives from three countries plus 10 supporting organisations and one academic as an individual supporter. One month later, the statement has received recognition and support from more than 4,500 signatories. Among all those who signed, over 4,000 signatures and thumbprints come from the local people who live along the Mekong River and have directly experienced the changes in the Mekong River in recent years.

All the signatures, with the total to be counted early next week, will be presented to government ministers from all four lower Mekong countries; those who are directly responsible for decision-making over the future of the Mekong Basin. Invitations were sent, together with copies of the statement, to Ministers of Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, to invite them to the Mekong People’s Public Forum, which will take place on 11 November at An Giang University, An Giang Province in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.

The Regional Public Forum, “Local Mekong people’s voices: the message to Mekong governments on Mekong dams”(program attached), will be a gathering of nearly one hundred participants. Among them will be at least twenty representatives from local Mekong communities from Cambodia and Thailand. The majority of participants will be Vietnamese local communities, civil society groups and academic groups from Vietnam. This event is highly significant: it will be the first public forum of its kind, bringing together local people across the region to share their concerns over hydropower dams.

The Mekong local groups, however, until now are still waiting for the formal reply from the Mekong governments as to whether they are willing to join the historic Mekong People’s Forum.

“This forum belongs to us, the local Mekong people’s communities and citizens. I believe that the gathering will get bigger and bigger from now on. The problems from Mekong dams have been too severe for all of us, and without any real solution and understanding from Mekong governments, we the people will no longer able to protect our rivers from the aggressive encroachment of those dam builders. We will therefore continue to call until we have the government representatives really come, listen and admit their responsibility in protecting the Mekong basin, our livelihoods and the security of the region overall” states Mr. Channarong Wongla, from the local group Hug Chiang Khan in the Northeastern Mekong provinces in Thailand.

Panel Discussion for 2nd MRC Summit – Open to the public on 4 April

The Second MRC Summit will be organized on 5th April 2014 in Ho Chi Minh City, following the consensus made by heads of MRC member states in the first Summit in Hua Hin in 2010.  This quadrennial event demonstrates the highest level of political commitment to the implementation of the Mekong Agreement. The Second Summit will focus the discussions of MRC state leaders on progress of implementation of the Hua Hin Declaration, among other importants issues. There are also a number of other high-level events organized before the Summit, including an international conference, MRC Joint Committee meeting, and MRC Council meeting.

2ndMekongSummit

The panel discussion “The Journey from Hua Hin to Ho Chi Minh City and Future of the Mekong River” is open to the public, especially media, to join and share with speakers their views and comments.

For more information, please click here >>