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  • Vietnam’s New Environmental Politics: A Fish out of Water?

    05/23/2016

    The cross-country demonstrations currently taking place in Vietnam to protest massive fish die-offs along the central Vietnamese coast are truly remarkable. Not only were demonstrations at this scale unheard of even five years ago, but they beg the question of why thousands of demonstrators as far off as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are subjecting themselves to the threat of beating and arrest over dead fish in Central Vietnam.

    Has a new environmental sensibility suddenly taken hold of the nation? Is it a rude awakening to the costs of decades of rapid industrialization and economic growth? Or is it simply a convenient expression of developmental malaise projected onto a foreign scapegoat, namely the Taiwanese Formosa Ha Tinh steel factory ,whose 1.8 km underground waste pipe is widely suspected as the principal cause of the die-off? Even as such sensibilities may be taking shape, they hardly explain the scale or intensity of the current confrontation.

  • New Lao Prime Minister Issues Ban on Timber Exports

    05/23/2016

    The new Lao government has issued a moratorium on the export of logs and timber in a bid to reduce rampant and widespread illegal wood shipments outside the small Southeast Asian nation’s borders, according to a copy of the document obtained by RFA’s Lao Service.

    Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, who assumed office on April 20, issued the moratorium on May 13. It requires all ministries, provincial governors and mayors to implement strict measures to control and inspect the felling of trees, log transportation, and logging businesses.

    The moratorium contains 17 points, including one that forbids the export of logs, timber, processed wood, roots, branches, and trees from natural forests as well as logs the previous government had recently approved for export.

  • Mekong River in danger, but MRC is ‘weak’

    05/23/2016

    Dams and water diversion projects along the Mekong River threaten to overwhelm an ecosystem that supports 60 million people and thousands of species, according to a consensus of scientists, NGOs and governments. But amidst this pending crisis, the main mechanism set up to protect the river is becoming all but irrelevant.

    The Mekong now needs more protection than ever, experts say, but the Mekong River Commission (MRC) – an international body that manages Mekong development and water resource use – has been steadily losing power for years, say current and former employees who spoke on condition of anonymity.

  • World Bank to re-engage after five-year absence

    05/23/2016

    The World Bank has approved $130 million in developmental aid aimed at reducing poverty in Cambodia, signalling its first direct re-engagement with the Kingdom since it left in protest in 2011 after one of the largest forceful evictions led by the government displaced more than 3,000 families.

    The decision came last week when the World Bank’s executive directors voted on a new Country Engagement Note (CEN) that approved financing of four projects including infrastructure development, clean-water projects, agriculture production and access to health care.

  • Mekong Investment Underscores Japan’s Economic Clout in Southeast Asia

    05/23/2016

    Earlier this month, Japan announced a three-year, $7 billion investment deal with the countries of the lower Mekong River to boost development and improve infrastructure. In an email interview, Phuong Nguyen, an associate fellow with the Southeast Asia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, discussed Japan’s relations in Southeast Asia.

  • Drought: Hydropower’s Achilles Heel

    05/19/2016

    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.

  • Mekong Eye News Digest: 18 May 2016

    05/19/2016

    A weekly update of news, commentary and resources on Mekong development projects, investment, EIAs and other development issues. We include a balanced and representative range of news and views from local, regional and global sources. The Digest reaches around 3500 key development professionals, government officials, business leaders and journalists.

  • Scientists recommend fewer coal power plants

    05/19/2016

    Vietnamese state agencies have been insisting on the necessity of continued development of coal power plants, affirming that this is the best solution for Vietnam as coal power is cheaper than wind and nuclear power.

    However, scientists have argued that coal power is not as cheap as thought, saying that the price Vietnam has to pay for coal power would be very high if counting all the expenses related to social and environment problems.

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