As the world recognizes World Water Day, The Mekong Eye examines recent worrying news events that could threaten the Mekong River Basin.
In Cambodia’s Northern Prey Lang forest, one of the last remaining evergreen forests in Southeast Asia, a community is organizing itself to preserve its roots, traditions, and protect the land to which it belongs.
Some 196 square kilometers along Myanmar’s west coast is slated for transformation into a deep sea port and industrial estate unrivaled anywhere else in the region.
With public opposition to major infrastructure projects a growing concern, and willing partners in neighboring countries eager to pick of the slack, Thailand’s industrialists are fanning out in all directions. Energy projects dominate the mix, including coal, gas and hydropower. As a result, it’s the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand driving much of the activity.
As the enthusiastic narrative from the Paris climate change agreement of last month continues, conversations with Thai journalists offer a cautionary data point that may resonate beyond this society of sixty million.
“Other than the words climate change, the fundamental issues behind it, actions to address it have really not been much of a concern to the Thai people,” says Paritta Wangkiat of Bangkok Post, the only Thai journalist to cover the Paris talks. “At best it’s a trendy slogan to deploy when discussing unusual weather patterns. But there is a serious lack of commitment from policy makers and society including media organizations to take part in the global effort to reduce CO2.
Some 6,000 journalists worldwide applied for accreditation, and facilities were available to service 3,000 at one time, but not many from the Mekong region?
While initiatives by the Asian Development Bank, ASEAN, United States, Japan, France and the private sector aim to advance renewable energy within the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), coal-fired power plants are slated to become an increasingly larger share of the region’s electricity generating portfolio.
Academics and NGOs in the Mekong region welcome a new book that sheds light on the significance of the evolution of legal frameworks in overpowering historical social dynamics of river communities to sustain their livelihoods and culture.
Exploring conflicts surrounding hydropower development in the Lower Mekong region the authors of The Mekong: a Socio-Legal Approach to River Basin illustrate the growing barriers laws and policies that were never a part of these communities’ cultures, and which they had no role in shaping, lie at the heart of controversy surround dam projects from the moment that are proposed.
Dawei is a seaside community of less than 5,000 families, in one of the world’s least developed corners. Myanmar’s ever widening borders, however, have lured investments here on a scale beyond anything ever conceived within Southeast Asia.
The Dawei Special Economic Zone environs nearly 200 square kilometers of industrial development, a deepsea port and associated road, rail and pipeline links to neighboring Thailand and beyond.
Photojournalist Taylor Weidman captures the faces of Dawei as they they contemplate what lies ahead. Will their fisheries and betel nut farms still provide viable livelihoods? Will new jobs actually be available to them and their children or largely to higher skilled prospects from abroad? Will environmental controls be sufficient and sufficiently enforcement to protect the community, and the natural resources that now sustain it?
The richly illustrated book Living with the Mekong provides readers with insights into urban developments in one of the world’s most threatened deltas. According to the author, the book gives a personal account of “how Vietnam and the Vietnamese people cope with the consequences of climate change.” Joep Janssen, a Dutch urban delta expert, travelled through the Mekong Delta and Ho Chi Minh City area researching the impacts of climate change and development on farmers and urban inhabitants. The Mekong Eye talked to Joep, via email, about urbanization, climate change, development, and how decision makers in the Mekong region might learn from the Dutch experience.
A subsidiary of Thailand’s partially state-owned petrochemical giant PTT, has teamed up with Japan’s Marubeni Corp and Myanmar’s EDEN Group to develop a 400 MW natural gas-fired power plant in Myanmar’s port city of Thanlyin.
The beautiful coastal city of Quy Nhon along Vietnam’s central coast will soon house the Greater Mekong Subregion’s largest oil refinery. Advanced by the Thailand’s PTT Plc in partnership with Saudi Arabia’s ARAMCO, the 400,000 barrel-per-day facility will be fed by Saudi Arabian crude.
A deep gorge near Mong Ton Township on the Salween River in Myanmar has long been sought after by engineers from the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand. It can accommodate Southeast Asia’s tallest dam and deliver the equivalent of 25 per cent of Thailand’s current electricity consumption.