Mekong Eye

News. Maps. Perspectives. Solutions

Mekong River in danger, but MRC is ‘weak’

Dams and water diversion projects along the Mekong River threaten to overwhelm an ecosystem that supports 60 million people and thousands of species, according to a consensus of scientists, NGOs and governments. But amidst this pending crisis, the main mechanism set up to protect the river is becoming all but irrelevant.

The Mekong now needs more protection than ever, experts say, but the Mekong River Commission (MRC) – an international body that manages Mekong development and water resource use – has been steadily losing power for years, say current and former employees who spoke on condition of anonymity.

22nd meeting of the Mekong River Commission Council, January 13-14, 2016

By Igor Kossov

Phenom Penh, May 23, 2016

Phnom Penh Post

Dams and water diversion projects along the Mekong River threaten to overwhelm an ecosystem that supports 60 million people and thousands of species, according to a consensus of scientists, NGOs and governments. But amidst this pending crisis, the main mechanism set up to protect the river is becoming all but irrelevant.

The Mekong now needs more protection than ever, experts say, but the Mekong River Commission (MRC) – an international body that manages Mekong development and water resource use – has been steadily losing power for years, say current and former employees who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“Mekong member countries consider the [MRC] ‘consultation process’ as a complete failure and will imminently take benefit of this weakness to promote and carry out their own controversial projects,” said a former employee, who remains in contact with many current MRC members and other river experts.

With frustrated donors turning away from the MRC, the commission is losing more than half its funds and employees. Development partner funding totalled $115 million for the 2011-2015 period, while the 2016-2020 period will see only $53 million, Truong Hong Tien, the officer in charge of the MRC secretariat, said in January. The commission is also reducing its staff from 180 to 90 people.

“It’s too big. We want to become faster, more effective,” Tien said in an interview. But MRC employees and other experts believe the size reduction will only serve to make the commission weaker and encourage its members to act unilaterally in building projects.

Read more at Phnom Penh Post

×

Find the location

Find

Result:

Latitude:
Longitude:

Zoom:

Finish geocoding

×

Submit a story

Do you have news to share on these topics? Contribute to this map by submitting a story.
Help us spread vital information about the world's most crticial eco-regions.

Find location on map

Find location on map