Vientiane Capital, Lao PDR, 8th Jun 2017
8 June 2017, Vientiane Capital, Lao PDR – Yesterday the Mekong River Commission (MRC) Secretariat organised the 3rd Joint Committee Working Group (JCWG) for Pak Beng Hydropower Project Prior Consultation Process in Vientiane Capital, Lao PDR ahead of the upcoming Joint Committee Special Session scheduled for 19 June 2017.
The meeting provided the opportunity for the JCWG members to discuss the second draft of the MRC’s Technical Review Report of the Pak Beng Hydropower project and considered the outcomes of the national and regional consultations facilitated by the MRC Secretariat and National Mekong Committees. Additional information submitted by the Lao PDR, the proposing country, were also the subject of discussion.
In addition to the two regional stakeholder forums, eight national consultations were led by the National Mekong Committees including five in Thailand, two in Vietnam, and two in Cambodia.
While there were common concerns on the potential transboundary impacts, national consultations generated specific issues and recommendations. Among others, Cambodian stakeholders recommended the need for a more thorough transboundary cumulative impact assessment and a mechanism for transboundary benefits sharing. Backwater effects leading to sudden water fluctuation and flooding and fish migration was vocalized by Thai stakeholders who suggested a mitigation and monitoring systems. Participants in Vietnam raised the need for more robust baseline data and integrated impact assessment considering other dams along the Mekong river.
These and other concerns and recommendations have been documented and become part of the record of the PNPCA process. At the meeting, the Lao government also provided clarifications and further information on each of the major points raised, including ongoing efforts to address the issues of backwater effects into Thailand, sediment transport, fish migration, and navigation lock.
Relevant points are incorporated into the final Technical Review Report and will be proposed to the Joint Committee Special Session, which will conclude the six-month prior consultation process of the Pak Beng hydropower project.
The prior consultation on the Pak Beng Hydropower Project officially began on 20 December 2016 and will be concluded this month. This process normally lasts six months, but could be extended upon agreement by the MRC Joint Committee.
The prior consultation process, stipulated in the 1995 Mekong Agreement, aims to mitigate adverse impact on the environment and livelihoods of riverine communities both upstream and downstream, while achieving optimum use of water resources.
All available information of the project including environmental and social impact assessments, engineering reports, and comments is available for public access on the MRC website at www.mrcmekong.org.
The Mekong River Commission (MRC) is the intergovernmental organisation established to promote cooperation on the sustainable management of the Mekong Basin whose members include Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam. The MRC acts as a platform for water diplomacy and regional cooperation in which member countries share the benefits of common water resources despite different national interests, and address transboundary pressures in the basin. It also serves as a knowledge hub that promotes regional cooperation and policy-making based on scientific evidence. The MRC is not a supra-national or regulatory body. The commission looks across all sectors including sustaining fisheries, identifying opportunities for agriculture, maintaining the freedom of navigation, flood management and preserving important ecosystems. Superimposed on these are the future effects of more extreme floods, prolonged drought and sea level rise associated with climate change.
The Pak Beng Hydropower Project is a run-of river project located in the Mekong mainstream. The power plant is planned to have an installed capacity of 912-megawatt, designed to discharge the flow of 5,771.2 cubic meters per second.
The Lao National Mekong Committee Secretariat submitted on 4 November 2016 the detailed description of the planned project to the MRC Secretariat for its review and further action to inform the other member countries about the project’s scope and other requirements under the prior consultation process.
The prior consultation is part of the MRC’s procedural rules on cooperation on water use of the Mekong mainstream: the Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement (PNPCA). According to the Mekong Agreement, the prior consultation does not involve approval or disapproval of a proposed project and neither a right for the proposing country to go ahead with the project without taking into account the others’ rights. Rather, it is a mechanism to support regional cooperation on water use. It is designed for the notified countries to make recommendations and for the proposing country to accept certain measures, to mitigate any potential impact and to find a better way to share the benefits.
The MRC Joint Committee (JC) carries out the prior consultation process with technical and administrative support provided by a working group consisting of representatives from Member Countries and the MRC Secretariat.
For more information on the PNCPA, the Pak Beng Hydropower Project prior consultation, and access to the project documents please go to:
Ms Souridahak Sakonhninhom, Communication Officer
Mekong River Commission Secretariat, Vientiane, Lao PDR
T +856-21 263 263 M +856-20 2222 2207
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