Vientiane, Lao PDR, 1st Mar 2016 - 3rd Mar 2016
Vientiane, Lao PDR, 1 – 3 March 2016 — Officials from the Member Countries of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) and representatives from the MRC Secretariat joined the ASIA 2016 International Conference and Exhibition on Water Resources and Hydropower Development in Asia on 1-3 March in Vientiane to share MRC’s work and experience on sustainable management of hydropower development in the Mekong.
Taking place against the backdrop of intensifying interest in hydropower development in the Lower Mekong River Basin and heightening concern over the possible impacts of hydropower on the environment, fisheries, and people’s livelihoods, the three-day conference drew as many as 825 participants from 47 nations to discuss the latest developments in hydropower research, engineering, planning, and management.
At the conference, the MRC’s Initiative on Sustainable Hydropower hosted a three-hour session on “sustainable hydropower and transboundary cooperation” where a number of interactive presentations were given, including among others, modelling the impacts of hydropower development in the Mekong and the development of guidelines for hydropower impact mitigation (see here for a full list of presentations). The session offered a unique opportunity for the organisation to share its experience and work in advancing regional cooperation for the sustainable development of hydropower projects from a river basin management perspective.
The MRC also held a reception at one of the conference exhibition booths, allowing conference attendees to learn more about a Rapid Sustainability Assessment Tool (RSAT) for basin-wide planning and the work of ISH, and to interact with MRC staff and CEO Pham Tuan Phan, the first riparian CEO of the organisation.
The conference organiser and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) sponsored the participation from the MRC Member Countries.
Also playing a role in the conference was the Network for Sustainable Hydropower Development in the Mekong Countries (NSHD-M), an initiative of the MRC-GIZ Cooperation Programme that brings together researchers and faculty members from some 30 universities and research institutions in China, Myanmar, Lao PDR, Thailand, Cambodia, and Viet Nam. One of the nine representatives from the Network Dr Silinthone Sacklokham, faculty member of the National University of Laos, gave a presentation in one of the conference sessions on the experience of NSHD-M and on the creation of a Master’s Degree on Sustainable Hydropower Development (MSc SHD) at NUL. The Network aims to build the capacity of professionals working in the field of sustainable hydropower development and to integrate curricula on sustainable hydropower development into universities in the six Mekong countries.
The conference reflects the high level of interest in issues related to hydropower development in Lao PDR and other Mekong countries. As an intergovernmental organisation that provides the institutional framework for the promotion and coordination of sustainable management and development of water and related resources of the Mekong, the MRC will continue to facilitate cooperation between upstream and downstream users to ensure that this development is carried out sustainably. It will also continue to develop guidelines for hydropower environmental impact mitigation and risk management in the Lower Mekong and to promote the use of its basin-wide RSAT, a multi-stakeholder dialogue and assessment tool designed to consider hydropower sustainability issues in a river basin context.