Streets were turned into riv-ers in Ha Noi and HCM City in a matter of hours over the last few days in what have been described as historic rainfalls. Traffic was thrown into chaos as thousands of residents scrambled to get home in the driving rain that lasted for hours at a time.
The Mekong River Commission (MRC), the only intergovernmental body mandated to sustainably manage and protect the Lower Mekong River, is on the brink of demise. While transboundary water governance has faced significant challenges in the region since the MRC was established in 1995, the Commission’s first real test came more recently with the start of the regional debate over plans to build a cascade of eleven mainstream dams on the Lower Mekong River.
Minority groups, which make up 40 percent of Myanmar’s population and are represented by their own political parties, have not been under effective state control since Myanmar’s independence 67 years ago. Despite the ceasefire agreement, fighting between ethnic armed groups and the Myanmar Armed Forces has continued in several states. One of their grievances is the damming of the Salween river in their controlled territories. Proper accommodation of the interests of minority groups in this matter is crucial for ensuring that a peaceful post-election period and transition towards true democracy.
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?
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.
Independent evaluations at multilateral development banks (MDBs) have called for a reform of the system of safeguards that they use to deflect potential damages to communities and the environment associated with the investments they finance. Without such mitigation, roads can harm habitats, dams displace communities and slum rebuilding hurt livelihoods.
Over-exploitation of rivers has caused a great deal of damage. Dr. Dao Trong Tu, director of the Centre for Sustainable Water Resources and Climate Change, tells Ha Noi Moi (New Ha Noi) newspaper, in a Q&A.
Two hundred years ago, the ancestors of the Ban Pong people came to the area to try to develop the land, during a time where land titles did not exist. They had lived in peace until the government issued a land titling policy in the 1990s.
Looking out at bumper-to-bumper Monday morning traffic crawling along the Philippine capital’s main avenue, taxi driver Ranilo Banez shook his head in frustration.
What really happened in Tianjin is the result of a creeping environmental disaster unfolding across the globe, particularly in Southeast Asia, and it reflects the magnitude of the challenge that the leaders of the 10 ASEAN nations face as they seek to balance both economic growth and natural resource protection.