Question: Why is the Council Study different from past basin-wide assessment of impacts?

Answer: The Council Study is different from past basin-wide assessment of impacts due to the incorporation of the following features:

  • Encompasses all development thematic areas such as hydropower, irrigation, agriculture and land use change, domestic and industrial water use, navigation, and flood protection and an analysis of their individual and cumulative environmental and socio-economic impacts
  • In-depth assessment of impacts of developments from other sectors (not just hydropower)
  • Focus on major and short to medium term developments that are expected to have significant cumulative and transboundary impacts
  • Detailed account of impacts on river ecosystem and the value of ecosystem services to society
  • Identification of risk and opportunities of climate change
  • Development of a comprehensive basin-wide assessment framework
  • Assessment of past and exogenous developments to provide full picture
  • Provide policy recommendations for impact mitigation including cost and benefit sharing

Emphasis is put on both product and process improvements including sustainability of internal capacity building efforts; sustainability and scalability of assessment framework; and promotion of integrated and highly collaborative working environment among Member Countries and MRCS.

Question: How is the Council Study related to the Basin Development Planning (BDP) Process?

Answer: The Council Study builds on information, knowledge and assessments conducted by MRC Basin Development Plan Phase 2 (BDP2) and other commissioned assessments such as the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of Mainstream Dams. In the same way, the results of the assessments of the Council Study including the ensuing enhanced knowledgebase and policy recommendations will inform future update of the Basin Development Strategy including their implementations through the MRC Strategic Plan and National Indicative Plans (see figure below)..

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Question: What stakeholder consultations have been conducted?

Answer: Stakeholder consultations conducted to date have primarily involved the various line government agencies of the four Member Countries through regional technical meetings and national consultations. Development Partners funding the Study have also been consulted. The MRC countries and partners are the “owners” of the product. Because of budget constraints in the past, planned regional stakeholder consultations involving a broader range of stakeholders that include NGOs and CSOs have been postponed. At the national level, Member Countries at their own discretions have opened their national consultations to a wider group of stakeholders. The Council Study was presented at the MRC BDP Regional stakeholder forum in 2014. Furthermore, during the 2015 Greater Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy on 21-23 October 2015 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the Council Study was presented (see Poster 1 and Poster 2 presented). In addition, the Council Study Coordinator participated in a panel discussion for the Mekong Delta Study. These sessions provided the Council Study Team to share the progress of the Council Study and for the audience to ask questions and share feedback. In addition, the Council Study Coordinator has met with a number of NGOs individually to provide status updates on as per request basis.  

Question: Why the Council Study is taking too long to complete?

Answer: The Council Study was conceived in December 2011 at the highest level of the governments of the four Member Countries with the expectation that it will be completed by March 2016 just after 2011-2015 five-year strategic cycle. However, the scoping and planning phase of the Council Study took almost three years when one year is normally anticipated. The Inception Report which became the basis for the implementation phase of the Council Study was approved by the Member Countries in October 2014. This substantial delay in the planning phase put an undue pressure to the implementation team to complete the Council Study by the original completion date of March 2016. Moreover, the compressed implementation schedule is not compatible with the consultative, participatory, and transparent process that the Council Study is required to follow. This process while it takes more time ensures that at the conclusion of the Council Study, the four Member Countries will have already agreed with the findings of the Council Study. Therefore, early in the implementation phase, a proposal to extend the schedule of the Council Study as a corrective action (and which was supported by the Development Partners) has been presented to the Member Countries for consideration. More recently, this proposed extension is described in detail in the proposed implementation plan for Council Study Phase 2 (after March 2016) and is now scheduled for completion by the end of 2017.  

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