Protect Food Security and People from Transboundary Impacts
Bangkok, Thailand, 25 June 2014
As Mekong ministers meet for the 20th Meeting of the Mekong River Commission Council in Bangkok tomorrow, the Save the Mekong coalition has issued a statement calling upon the Prime Ministers of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam to work together to address the threat posed by a proposed cascade of eleven Mekong mainstream dams to the region’s food security and people. The coalition requests that immediate action be taken to cancel the planned mainstream dams, including the Xayaburi and Don Sahong dams, which are already under construction. And to ensure that future decisions over the shared river are based on scientific knowledge, transboundary impact assessment, robust consultations, and respect for the rights of all riparian nations and the public to a transparent and participatory decision-making process.
“The Mekong mainstream dams are gambling with our food security, by irreversibly harming vital fish migrations and blocking sediment needed for our floodplains,” said Youk Senglong from the Fisheries Action Coalition Team in Cambodia. “It’s time the Mekong leaders recognize the gravity of the situation and take action. Hundreds of thousands of people in the region and internationally have been demanding the dams to be cancelled through petitions, letters and protests.”
“The Cambodian and Vietnamese governments have repeatedly demanded that the Mekong mainstream dams’ transboundary impacts are studied and that decisions over the mainstream dams are deferred ten years,” said Nguy Thi Khanh from GreenID and the Vietnam River Network. “Yet, Laos has continued to unilaterally push forward with the Xayaburi and Don Sahong dams, without adequate knowledge of the risks and a meaningful consultation process. At the same time Thailand’s companies and banks are profiting at the expense of regional cooperation and millions of people in the region who depend on the Mekong River for their food and livelihood.”
At Thursday’s meeting, the Mekong River Commission (MRC)’s Council is scheduled to make a decision whether the Don Sahong Dam in Lao PDR must undergo prior consultation as requested by Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, after failing to reach agreement during a MRC’s Special Joint Committee Meeting in January. As the second Mekong mainstream dam, the Don Sahong Dam, is already following the dangerous precedent set by the Xayaburi Dam, in which project construction began while MRC deliberations were underway and unilateral action has triumphed over regional interest. Furthermore in both projects transboundary impact assessments have been absent, unproven technologies are being proposed as mitigation solutions, and attempts to follow the MRC’s procedures have exposed significant ambiguities and problems.
“Its clear the MRC has failed to guarantee a balanced and fair decision-making process, in which upstream and downstream considerations are considered. It’s a broken process in desperate need of reform, during a time when the Mekong River’s health and productivity is at stake,” said Tek Vannara from NGO Forum on Cambodia. “Decisions over the future of the Mekong River cannot continue to be made on a project-by-project basis without consideration of the cumulative transboundary impacts or the opinion of the millions of riparian people who rely upon the river.”
“It’s time to cancel the Mekong mainstream dams and protect the river for present and future generations. Thailand doesn’t need electricity from destructive dams that will undermine our development,” said Terrapong Pomun of Living River Siam in Thailand. “We urge the Lao government to immediately stop all construction of the Xayaburi and Don Sahong projects, for Thailand to cancel the Xayaburi Dam’s power purchase agreement, and for the riparian rights of neighboring countries and all peoples dependent on the river to be respected. As a first step towards improved Mekong cooperation, the Don Sahong Dam must undergo prior consultation.”
Mr. Youk Senglong, Program Manager, Fisheries Action Coalition Team (FACT), E: [email protected], T: +855 12768609.
Mr. Tek Vannara, Executive Director, NGO Forum on Cambodia (NGOF), E: [email protected], T: +855 12793489.
Mr. Terrapong Pomun, Director, Living River Siam, E: [email protected], T: +66 53329076.
Ms. Ormboon Tipsuna, Network of Thai People in 8 Mekong Provinces, E: [email protected], T: +66 898416528 (Thai language only).
Mrs. Nguy Thi Khanh – Director, Green Innovation and Development Center (GreenID) – Policy Advocacy Coordinator – Vietnam River Network (VRN), E: [email protected], T: +84 912713229.
Ms. Lam Thi Thu Suu, Director, Centre for Social Research and Development (CSRD), Coordinator-Vietnam River Network (VRN), E: [email protected], T: +84 543837714.
Ms. Premrudee Daoroung, Director, Towards Ecological Recovery and Regional Alliance (TERRA), Thailand. E: [email protected], T: +66 814342334.
Mr. Pieter Jansen, Project Coordinator, Both Ends, The Netherlands. E: [email protected], T: +31 6 20712191/ +31 5306600.
For more information about the Save the Mekong coalition visit: www.savethemekong.org