The prior consultation process under Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement (PNPCA) is a requirement of the 1995 Mekong Agreement for countries to jointly review any development project proposed for the mainstream with an aim to reach a consensus on whether or not it should proceed, and if so, under what conditions.

Mainstream hydropower projects can bring significant benefits in terms of renewable energy and budget revenues, but can also cause environmental and social impacts on the local and transboundary scale. In combination with other hydropower schemes, those impacts can have a cumulative character.

The PNPCA process officially begins on the day the last Joint Committee Member receives the submission from the MRC Secretariat (MRCS). The Xayaburi PNPCA process officially started on 22 October 2010.

From this point to the final decision, the consultation process should take 6 months, but can be extended if necessary. 

Who is involved with the Xayaburi PNPCA prior consultation process?

Under the 1995 Mekong Agreement, prior consultation is an inter-governmental process. Several technical groups have been established to support Member Countries with the Xayaburi prior consultation. A Joint Committee Working Group of the MRC has been established to guide the MRC Secretariat and report to the MRC Joint Committee. Within the MRC Secretariat, a PNPCA Task Group is undertaking a technical review of the project including comparison with MRC’s Preliminary Design Guidance. Input on specific issues is provided by external specialists including Expert Groups on Fisheries and Sediments that contribute to analyses that will assist the Joint Committee with reaching an agreement. The Joint Committee Working Group has initiated public participation as part of the process. See below.

Xayaburi’s Prior Consultation Road Map

A Road Map guides the MRC Member Countries during the prior consultation process.

Date Milestones/Outline of Activities
20 Sept 2010 MRCS receipt of submission on the proposed Xayaburi mainstream hydropower dam project submitted by LNMC
Submission of respective PC documents to the MRCS as outlined in the PNPCA
1 Oct 2010
(likely assumed date)
Implementation of the MRCS Internal Procedure for PNPCA
  • PC submission and documents received
  • Signing-off the submission
  • Register submission, check completeness
  • Enter into MRC-IS
  • MRCS circulation of received documents to JC and other Member States 
by 4 Oct 2010
  • MRCS circulates a draft PC Road Map for PNPCA WG consideration (this document)
  • MRCS PNPCA Task Group (PNPCA TG) first screening & scoping of received documents to inform the PNPCA WG at its first meeting
26 Oct 2010 1st PNPCA Working Group Meeting
  • Consider draft PC Road Map for endorsement
  • Discussion on MRCS role regarding the facilitation of the process, technical review of the submission and reporting to PNPCA WG
  • First discussion of submitted documents (Member States and MRCS)
  • Agreement on public participation and involvement
  • Arrangements for field visit
  • Definition/confirmation of next steps including date of next meeting 
27 Oct 2010 Special Session of the MRC Joint Committee
  • Opportunity to inform the JC on PC process 
Oct – 28 Nov 2010 Start of technical review by MRCS
Scoping assessment by MRCS of the submitted PC documents in relation to the Preliminary Design Guidance for Mainstream Dams
Convening of sector expert groups as required, e.g.
  • Fish migration, mitigation measures and related issues
  • Sediment management
  • If needed, identification of other external expertise to assist MRCS in the assessment (e.g. social/livelihood aspects)
Proposed draft Table of Contents for a MRC PC Review Report
Detailed proposals for public participation and involvement (i.e. meetings and web submission facility)
29 Nov 2010 Field visit of PC site (joint activity JC, PNPCA WG & MRCS) facilitated by LNMCS and the developer
30 Nov 2010 2nd PNPCA Working Group Meeting
  • Presentation of draft MRCS scoping assessment
  • Presentation and discussion of any initial national review findings
  • Presentation & discussion of Table of Contents for the MRC PC Review Report
  • Review of any public participation process undertaken to date
  • Discussion and comments for further consideration
  • Re-confirmation of next steps of PC Road Map 
1 Dec – 28 Jan 2011 Continuation of technical PC review by MRCS
  • Continue detailed review of the received PC documents in relation to the Preliminary Design Guidance for Mainstream Dams and other aspects
  • Compilation of Draft MRC PC Review Report according to agreed Table of Contents & circulation to PNPCA WG
January-February 2011
14 Feb 2011 3rd PNPCA Working Group Meeting
  • Presentation of the Draft MRC PC Review Report
  • Presentation and discussion of national review findings on the PC
  • Preliminary summary of comments from public participation process
  • Final comments for integration
28 Feb 2011 Final draft of MRC PC review report
Consolidation of PNPCA WG comments and compilation of the Final Draft MRC PC Review Report
24/25 March 2011 Submission of the Final Draft MRC PC Review Report to the Preparatory Meeting of the MRC JC and Report on NMC-organized consultation meetings to the JC
  • Possible conclusion of the JC regarding the submitted PC
  • MRCS takes action based on outcome of the meeting and in accordance with the PNPCA Guidelines
19 April 2011 Special Joint Committee Meeting in Vientiane, Lao PDR
8 Dec 2011 MRC Council concluded that there is a need for further study on the sustainable development and management of the Mekong River including impact from mainstream hydropower development projects

Public Participation

Public participation is considered necessary for the Xayaburi PNPCA prior consultation process as it aims to involve people in a process that may affect their future. Public participation aims to enable information on the full range of perspectives, concerns and expectations of relevant stakeholders, which will be presented to decision makers.

Prior to the start of the Xayaburi consultation process, MRC public participation on possible mainstream developments was included as a part of the Basin Development Plan and the Strategic Environmental Assessment processes, and approached related issues at a basin-wide and transboundary level taking into account cumulative effects.

The MRC prior consultation process supports the Joint Committee through technical review, analysis and during their public participation processes. Other Member Countries plan to hold public participation meetings within their countries at local and national levels supported by the MRC during January and February 2011. A number of consultations among affected groups have already been held in Lao PDR organised by the developer and government. Other groups will also organise meetings on this issue and the MRC would like to receive information on the discussions held. The perspectives and views of the people gathered during public participation will be reflected in the MRC Secretariat briefings to the Joint Committee Working Group meeting and Joint Committee.

The focus of local public participation will be to voice the perspectives of potentially affected groups that have not yet had the opportunity to be involved or do not have easy access to communication channels such as the internet or the media.

Feedback and Comments

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