Pact inquired with ministries and other actors about the prospects for more effective environmental impact assessment (EIA) policy and practice and the role of multi-stakeholder cooperation at the regional level to improve EIAs in the five Lower Mekong countries (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam). A team of country experts analyzed the relationships and interests involved in improving the state of EIA. Pact’s analysis indicates that there is strong support among government and non-governmental stakeholders alike for reform of national EIA procedures, increased public participation, and development of a regional EIA standard. Pact hopes this research encourages continued dialogue across boundaries and stakeholder groups in order to tackle the pressing development challenges facing the Mekong region.
Laos kicks off its Asean chairmanship Friday with an agenda-setting foreign ministers’ retreat in Vientiane, its capital on the east bank of the Mekong River.
Analysts say this year could be a coming of age for the “lower-middle income economy”, where poverty continues to be widespread, but which is one of the fastest-growing economies in the region.
Laos last chaired Asean in 2004. Its economy grew by an average of 7 per cent annually in recent years, mostly on the back of its natural resources, a construction boom in Vientiane and rising tourism.
Climate change is threatening the economic and political future of the Mekong region. Excessive dam building is accelerating these risks. Failure to act will significantly impact growth in the region.
The recently signed Joint General Scheme of Mohan–Boten Economic Cooperation Zone is the first cross-border economic cooperation zone that China has established in Laos and, for that matter, in the whole of Southeast Asia. The deal hints at the Asian giant’s goal to expand its economic ties with its southern neighbours.
An attempt by about 100 Cambodian protesters to force the Angkor Beer company to divest its stake in the Don Sahong hydropower plant in Laos fell flat on Friday when company representatives said the brewer has no involvement in the project.
Chinese money accounts for the overwhelming majority of investment in Cambodia’s anaemic energy sector, but while the government has been happy to take Beijing’s loans for the construction of hydroelectric plants, a study published last month found that such investment came with both ecological and economic consequences.
Construction of a road linking the Dawei deep-sea port in Myanmar with Kanchanaburi will be delayed after Japan determined that 15-degree inclines along seven stretches of the road would be unsafe for lorries.
Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said on Friday construction of the 138km road from the Dawei deep-sea port to Ban Phu Nam Ron in Kanchanaburi must be postponed.
The project was due to start in March.
The delay comes following an inspection by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica).
The local energy sector is expected to be the next driver for foreign direct investment growth in Vietnam this year.
Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday declared an end to the government’s review of Cambodia’s economic land concessions (ELCs), pledging that nearly 1 million hectares of reappropriated property would be handed over to poor families. He also announced a major reorganization of the two ministries involved in granting ELCs.
Environmental and human rights groups have identified ELCs as a cause of some of Cambodia’s most pressing problems in recent years, from rampant deforestation to forced evictions across the country.
At present, there is only a wide road and vast fields but the area will soon be a flourishing major economic hub for neighbouring countries including Thailand and Myanmar. It is the site of the Dawei deep-sea port, the largest in the country, with a project area spanning thousands of square kilometres.