Between interests and worldviews: The narrow path of the Mekong River Commission low
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Between interests and worldviews: The narrow path of the Mekong River Commission low

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By Diana Suhardiman

By Diana Suhardiman

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Between interests and worldviews: The narrow path of the Mekong River Commission low Between interests and worldviews: The narrow path of the Mekong River Commission low Presentation Transcript

  • Between interests and worldviews:The narrow path of the MekongRiver CommissionDiana Suhardiman, Mark Giordano, Francois MolleGWSP Conference Water in the AnthropoceneBonn, Germany21-24 May 2013
  • Structure of the presentation• Mekong hydropower and plannedmainstream dams• The rationale behind the MRC StrategicEnvironmental Assessment• SEA outcome and the (re)shaping ofgovernance alliances• Conclusions
  • Mekong hydropowerMekong hydropower is developingrapidly:• 36 dams in operation in the LowerMekong Basin• 110 dams planned, under licensing orunder construction
  • Mekong hydropower1 Pak Beng2 Luang Prabang3 Xayabury4 Pak Lay5 Sanakham6 Pak Chom7 Ban Koum8 Lat Sua9 Don Sahong10 Thakho11 Stung Treng12 Sambor
  • Mekong hydropowerMekong hydropower debate and the SEA• Increase government review and ensurepower supply• Social and environmental impacts• SEA as environmental managementtool
  • The MRC StrategicEnvironmental AssessmentThe idea of Mekong mainstream dams datesback to 1957The revived in the 2000s• signing of regional power tradeagreement under the ADB GMS• emerging importance of private sectoractors• construction of a series of Chinese damson the Upper Mekong
  • The MRC StrategicEnvironmental Assessment• MRC as an inter-governmental body• 1995 Mekong Agreement and theMRC’s mandate to promote sustainbledevelopment
  • The MRC StrategicEnvironmental AssessmentThe SEA was to overcome theweaknesses of the PNPCA• Regional impacts of individual projects,not the cumulative impacts• The SEA was to encourage memberstates’ compliance with the PNPCA
  • The MRC StrategicEnvironmental AssessmentMRC Organizational StructureCouncilJoint CommitteeMRC SecretariatNational MekongCommitteesNMC Secretariats
  • SEA’s final findings andrecommendation“The recommendations of this SEA stem fromrecognition of the need for utmost caution inmaking development decisions when so muchis at stake and when there are evident threatsof serious and irreversible environmental,social, and economic damage from theproposed mainstream projects”(ICEM report prepared for the MRC, 2010: 25)
  • SEA’s final findings andrecommendationThe SEA followed a narrow path• assessment lacked any decision-makingauthority• MRC cannot force its member states toeither notify or halt their developmentplans
  • The MRC SEA actual significance• Conveyed international donors’ unifiedposition and helped formalize their concerns• Initiated an open discussion on the planneddams• The SEA translated environmental ministries’positions from the periphery to centraldecision-making stage and reshapedbureaucratic and political alliances at bothnational and transboundary level
  • Conclusions• Scientific assessments can be politicallymaneuvered to shape governancealliances• It can be used to democratize decision-making processes
  • Post-SEA development• Laos’ decision to commenceconstruction on theXayabury dam• What is the SEA’s potentialsignificance?
  • Thank you for your attentiond.suhardiman@cgiar.orgMekong River Watercolors by: http://maps.stamen.com/watercolor/