We live today in the most explosive era of infrastructure development in human history. By mid-century the unprecedented rate of highway, dam, mine and power plant construction; along with city growth, will girdle the globe in concrete. Arguably, that burst of activity will improve the lives of millions. But it is also coming at a terrible cost to the natural world, as we lose the rainforests, estuaries, wetlands, wildlife and indigenous people of our planet.
AS THE Mekong region faces intensifying challenges from developments needed by its riparian countries including Laos’ latest mega-project, the Pak Beng Dam, the Mekong River Commission (MRC) insists that it is still the best institutional arrangement to ensure sustainable development for the basin.
Pham Tuan Phan, who assumed the post of MRC chief executive this year, stressed that point while delivering his presentation about the organisation, empowered by the 1995 Mekong Agreement, at the Greater Mekong Forum last week, where leading river experts and policy-makers attended to find out the best approach to ensure the river’s sustainable development.
Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday disputed the idea that water shortages along the Mekong River have been exacerbated by two massive hydropower dams being developed by Laos, saying the drought currently afflicting much of mainland Southeast Asia was caused only by “the sky.”
Research commissioned by Vietnam has warned of devastating environmental and economic effects for millions of people living along the Mekong River if 11 proposed dams are built on its mainstream.