As Southeast Asia struggles to save the last of its Mekong River and Irrawaddy Dolphins, some ponder: should these remarkably intelligent animals be given “human” rights?
Government officials and civil society representatives from across the Mekong region have agreed to establish a working group to develop a regional public participation guideline for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) this week in Hanoi, Vietnam.
MEKONG River fishermen have already suffered dramatically from dams and irrigation works, which have decimated fish stocks and undermined livelihoods that supported families for generations.
Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha voiced plans to use water from the Mekong and Salween rivers to fill dams that have run low because of drought and poor water management. But the PM’s remarks have caused shockwaves in the Mekong Delta, which would be directly affected if such a project was to go ahead.
Cooperation in the Greater Mekong Subregion is helping countries in the area make progress towards the new global Sustainable Development Goals.
Soaring Chinese demand for natural resources is wreaking environmental havoc throughout Southeast Asia. Driven by its internal needs to provide breakneck rates of job creation and economic growth, China’s developmental model has repeatedly abused the fickle regulatory environment of its neighbors to drive its thirst for commodities. It has made it clear that, whoever can provide, it will buy. At the behest of Chinese companies, countries such as Vietnam and Malaysia have rolled out the red carpet, with little regard for their fragile ecosystems.
Viet Nam’s Mekong Delta, which is home to 18 million people, has suffered adverse consequences due to poor water resource management, a researcher at a Can Tho University think tank has said.
A public consultation organized by the Mekong River Commission was held in Pakse, Laos, last week, where opponents continued to call for Laos to reconsider a controversial dam project.
The winners of the 2013 offshore round are preparing for large energy exploration programs this year, as the process of signing production sharing contracts is now finished. While falling energy prices may slow the overall pace of exploration in Myanmar, there is expected to be a burst of exploration on the 20 newly-awarded offshore blocks.
Government and civil society representatives highlighted the need for strong and inclusive environmental impact assessment (EIA) policies and practices in the Mekong region at a meeting this week in Bangkok, Thailand.