Mekong Eye

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Can ASEAN Save the Mekong River?

As discussions continue, the future of one of the world’s greatest rivers is as bleak as ever.

By Luke Hunt

Vientiane, Laos, May 8, 2017

The Diplomat

Amid mounting concerns surrounding the degradation of the Mekong River, authorities from four of the countries responsible for the longest river in Southeast Asia met last week in Laos, raising hopes that solutions could be found for the 70 million people who rely on the Mekong for food.

It’s a task made all the more difficult since frustrated Western donors effectively abandoned the Mekong River Commission (MRC), forcing a restructure of the group controlled by two one-party states in Vietnam and Laos, a junta in Thailand, and democratic Cambodia.

That’s hardly a prescription for transparent management of such an important waterway, where priorities put first the Laos politicians and companies that stand to benefit from construction of nine dams across the mainstream of the Mekong River, and over 100 others elsewhere.

The 45th meeting of the Joint Committee of the MRC in Luang Prabang mattered particularly since Laos, in keeping with its record, will proceed with its third damming of the mainstream of the Mekong River at Pak Beng in the north.

But the meeting failed to address any of the concerns publicly. It rated a threadbare press release on its own website and not much more in the regional, government-dominated media. Its priorities from the start seemed skewered.

Read more at The Diplomat

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