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Analysis

Vietnam playing ‘key Mekong sub-region role’

VIETNAM has been making practical contributions to turning the Mekong sub-region into a dynamic and prosperous economic area via two crucial cooperation frameworks. That is according to the country’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, who spoke before meetings of those cooperations, the 8th Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam Summit (CLMV-8) and the 7th Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Coopera-tion Strategy Summit (ACMECS-7) which will be held in Hanoi on October 25 and 26.

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Opinion

Asia: Heading towards a seismic shift

In a decade's time, visitors to Asean, South and North Asia may find their personal experiences in their respective destinations differ quite drastically. Each Asian nation is busy operating at its own pace, plotting a new stage of economic development and growth - despite ongoing global economic uncertainty. In the process of this seismic shift, some countries have chosen to work in partnerships while others are tackling the challenges alone. All of them reflect Asia's unique aspiration to take on global competitive pressure. Some nations aim to get out of the middle-income trap, while others want to secure a higher standard of living for their people.

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Recharging Asia’s Battery

Next week, Barack Obama will be the first sitting U.S. president to visit Laos, a poor, landlocked country whose large-scale efforts to dam the Mekong River threaten to destabilize the region. This concerns the United States because Southeast Asia is one of the country’s largest trading partners and a key security ally that can counterbalance China’s growing regional influence. Obama should seize this opportunity to help Laos make energy choices that, over the long term, can unify the region and preserve the Mekong.

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Resource / PR

New book: Licensed Larceny: Infrastructure, Financial Extraction and the global South

This new 144-page book, just published by Manchester University Press, argues that the current push worldwide for Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) is not about building infrastructure -- roads, bridges, hospitals, ports and railways - for the benefit of society but about constructing new subsidies to benefit the already wealthy. It is less about financing development than developing finance.

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Report: Coal and gas to stay cheap, but renewables still win race on costs

Low prices for coal and gas are likely to persist, but will fail to prevent a fundamental transformation of the world electricity system over coming decades towards renewable sources such as wind and solar, and towards balancing options such as batteries. The latest long-term forecast from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, entitled New Energy Outlook 2016, charts a significantly lower track for global coal, gas and oil prices than did the equivalent projection a year ago. Crucially, however, it also shows a steeper decline for wind and solar costs.

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Resource / PR

Public Participation and Learning in Impact Assessment

Members of the Regional Technical Working Group on Environmental Impact Assessment (RTWG on EIA, facilitated by Mekong Partnership for the Environment) participated in the Annual Conference of International Association for Impact Assessment in Nagoya, Japan in May 2016. IAIA is a global conference focusing on Impact Assessment tools and issues such as EIA, Health Impact Assessment (HIA), Public Participation, Biodiversity, Climate Change, and other topics. Here, an RTWG member shares his thoughts on the event and particularly one session “Learning-Centered Approaches to Impact Assessment.”

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Opinion

Drought: Hydropower's Achilles Heel

Drought: The news has been full of it. Fish are disappearing from markets from Zimbabwe to Vietnam because of it. Kenyan barristas are making "camelcinos" because drought has made cow milk scarce. And in India, men from some villages are even finding it hard to get wives because the water shortage makes them look like a bad bet. Across Asia, Africa and Latin America, the rains are not falling – they’re failing. But drought is no longer just a concern for farmers; it’s increasingly becoming a major humanitarian and political issue, particularly in hydropower-dependent countries.

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The Mekong River winding through the flooded forest in Cambodia.

Opinion

Asia’s Troubled Water

Asia’s water woes are worsening. Already the world’s driest continent in per capita terms, Asia now faces a severe drought that has parched a vast region extending from southern Vietnam to central India. This has exacerbated political tensions, because it has highlighted the impact of China’s dam-building policy on the environment and on water flows to the dozen countries located downstream.

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Analysis

A reality check for renewable energy

The clean-and-safe energy revolution is not imminent. In fact, according to the information compiled by Looking Ahead: The 50 Global Trends That Matter,1an annual compendium of data and graphics on subjects ranging from economics to demography to energy, the majority of the planet’s electricity needs will still be fueled by coal and natural gas in 2040—despite strong growth in nonhydro renewables such as wind, solar, and geothermal. The report also expects the shale phenomenon to abate, with Saudi Arabia reasserting itself as the world’s leading oil producer in 2030. Looking Ahead, which is produced by an independent think tank supported by Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Court, does not take a view on these trends; instead, it simply lays out the best available information from a wide variety of sources, including governments, consultancies, think tanks, corporations, and multilateral institutions. The overriding aim of the publication is to highlight issues that matter in compelling visualizations that make it easier for readers to grasp a large amount of interlinked data—and thus better understand both the nature of the problems the world faces and how to address them.

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Opinion

Linking rural development with SDGs

The 2030 agenda for sustainable development undoubtedly proposes an exciting vision, and promises a future of peace and prosperity; but these goals will not be easy to achieve unless we develop effective global partnerships and learn from the outcomes of Millennium Development Goals (MDG). We need to investigate both the successes and failures of MDGs, set our focus on result-oriented development, and encourage government and their development partners to think about the linkages between plan, policy, delivery and monitoring in resource mobilisation and management.

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