Official Prior Consultation for Pak Beng Hydropower Project Reaches its 6-month Milestone
20 June 2017, Vientiane Capital, Lao PDR – Yesterday the Mekong River Commission (MRC) Secretariat organised the Special Session of the MRC Joint Committee (JC) on the proposed Pak Beng Hydropower Project in Vientiane to mark the six-month milestone of the official Prior Consultation (PC) process.
This session provided the formal opportunity within the official PC timeframe for the JC members, the management body of the MRC, to discuss key recommendations of the final Technical Review Report of the proposed Pak Beng Hydropower Project (PBHPP) undertaken by the MRC Secretariat. Having considered the TRR as well as the outcomes from regional and national stakeholder forums, the JC agreed on a statement calling on ‘the Government of Lao PDR to make all reasonable efforts to address potential adverse transboundary impacts of the Pak Beng project’ and requests the Secretariat to prepare a Joint Action Plan outlining a post six-months prior consultation process.
Measures for consideration in the statement include addressing the potential upstream and downstream impacts on hydrology and hydraulics including the backwater effects into Thailand; improving sediment transportation; improving upstream and downstream fish passage; gaining a better understanding of potential socio-economic transboundary impacts; ensuring the freedom of navigation; establishing a communication channel for providing inputs on the ongoing design and development of the project; sharing of improved designs and monitoring data, and MRC joint monitoring programme for Pak Beng.
The JC members also took note of key recommendations resulting from the two regional stakeholder forums organized by the MRC Secretariat and national consultations that were reflected in the ‘reply forms’ submitted by notified member countries. The JC also noted with appreciation the Lao PDR’s spirit of cooperation and responsibility during the Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement (PNPCA) process for the PBHPP.
The JC Statement, reply forms and statement by Lao PDR will be made available to the public later this week.
The prior consultation on the PBHPP officially began on 20 December 2016. Stipulated in the 1995 Mekong Agreement, it 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.
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Note to Editors:
The MRCis the intergovernmental organization 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 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 PBHPP 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 PC is part of the MRC’s procedural rules on cooperation on water use of the Mekong mainstream: the 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 considering 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 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 PBHPP Prior Consulation, and access to the project documents please go to: