Proposed hydropower development projects along the Mekong River entail significant transboundary impacts that will be felt by all countries in the Mekong Basin. According to the 1995 Mekong Agreement, Mekong River Commission (MRC) Member Countries are required to hold notification, prior consultations or agreement in order to discuss transboundary impacts Mekong development may have on neighboring countries, before any commitment is made to proceed. Through a range of pilot studies and facilitation programmes, the MRC is continuously working to strengthen national capacities for regional environmental management, transboundary environmental impact assessments, and environmental conflict management.
A Framework for Transboundary Environmental Impact Assessment (TbEIA) has been developed by MRC to supplement existing cooperation as per the Procedures for Notification Prior Consultation and Agreement (PNPCA). A specific focus of this activity is to better understand conflict resolution in transboundary environmental matters and environmental considerations for sustainable hydropower development. Taking into consideration potential transboundary impacts of some pilot sites, Member Countries are learning how to deal with the issues through dialogue, exchange of information, and capacity building. The experiences and procedures from the pilot projects are expected to improve the draft Framework for TbEIA for the Member States.
The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the 12 Hydropower Projects on the Mainstream Mekong presents transboundary impacts of the proposed mainstream development projects in the Lower Mekong Basin, in the context of a growing number of Lower Mekong tributary hydropower projects and storage dams on the Lancang/Mekong River in China. The SEA's transboundary approach offers regional perspectives valuable to the PNPCA process, which is first being carried out for the proposed Xayaboury dam in the Upper Mekong River in China.