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  • Sweden Pledges $5.3M to Mekong River Body

    11/30/2016

    As bitter protests continue over ongoing Mekong River dam projects, Sweden has pledged $5.3 million to a controversial multinational body monitoring development in the basin.

    The funding—to be disbursed over the next four years—will promote sustainable hydropower in the Mekong River basin, the Mekong River Commission (MRC) said in a press release.

  • Data transparency project launched in Yangon

    11/28/2016

    Innovation hub Phandeeyar on Tuesday launched an open data portal to encourage transparency and improve decision-making, as part of a Mekong-wide project.

    Phandeeyar program manager Ko Thet Aung said the Open Development Myanmar site aims to use information and technology to promote development and support Myanmar’s transition process.

  • Development as Unfreedom: Shrinking Democratic Spaces in Asia

    11/18/2016

    The real sign of development and democracy is how a country respects, protects and promotes freedoms and human rights. The biggest challenge of our times is the increasing gap between the promises and performance of states and governments in relation to the protection of the freedoms and human rights of their people. This is most evident in many countries in Asia, with the shrinking of freedom and democratic spaces resulting in increasing attacks on human rights defenders.

  • Official speaks out against coal power

    11/16/2016

    If the people say “no” to coal, so do we, say government officials. In an interview with The Myanmar Times this week, a deputy permanent secretary of the Electricity and Energy Department has confirmed that the government has no plans to pursue coal-based energy.

  • Vietnam reduces number of hydropower plants in its Power Development Plan 7

    11/15/2016

    Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) today said it will remove 471 small and cascade hydropower plants from its Power Development Plan 7 (PDP 7) that would have had a combined installed capacity of 2,059 MW. MOIT also rejected another 213 potential projects because of environmental and efficiency concerns, according to locally published reports.

  • Commission chief insists ‘imperfect’ body has river basin’s interests at heart

    11/14/2016

    AS THE Mekong region faces intensifying challenges from developments needed by its riparian countries including Laos’ latest mega-project, the Pak Beng Dam, the Mekong River Commission (MRC) insists that it is still the best institutional arrangement to ensure sustainable development for the basin.

    Pham Tuan Phan, who assumed the post of MRC chief executive this year, stressed that point while delivering his presentation about the organisation, empowered by the 1995 Mekong Agreement, at the Greater Mekong Forum last week, where leading river experts and policy-makers attended to find out the best approach to ensure the river’s sustainable development.

  • A call for basin-wide energy plans

    11/08/2016

    Preparatory work for the next big dam on the Mekong — Pak Beng — in northern Laos has begun. This news supports the widespread narrative that the current rapid pace of dam construction on the Mekong River will continue until the entire river is turned into a series of reservoirs. Certainly the construction of even a few large dams will severely impact food security in the world’s most productive freshwater fishery and sharply reduce the delivery of nutrient-rich sediment needed to sustain agriculture, especially in Cambodia and Vietnam’s Mekong Delta.

    However, our ongoing research and communication with regional policymakers provides compelling evidence that not all of the planned dams will be built due to rising political and financial risks in the region. As a consequence, we have concluded in our most recent report that it is not too late for the adoption of a new approach that would optimise the inescapable “nexus” of tradeoffs among energy generation, food security, and water use and better protect the core ecology of the river system for the benefit of future generations.

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