Statement on Prior Consultation process for Pak Lay agreed, Joint Action Plans for Pak Beng and Pak Lay approved
Vientiane, Lao PDR, 4 April 2019 — The Mekong River Commission (MRC) member countries Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam today agreed on a Statement on the prior consultation process for the proposed Pak Lay hydropower project, as the members concluded the six-month prior consultation process.
The MRC’s governing body Joint Committee reached the decision at a Special Session held to discuss the Pak Lay hydropower project, which was submitted for the prior consultation process under the MRC’s Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement (PNPCA) in June last year. Its official six-month prior consultation process began on 8 August 2018.
“The Statement demonstrates our accountability to our leaders and people in the basin,” Chairperson of the MRC Joint Committee for 2019 Dr. Le Duc Trung said. “It also reflects stakeholders’ recommendations resulted from regional and national consultations on how to avoid, minimize and mitigate potential transboundary impacts from Pak Lay development and operation,” he added.
The Statement calls on Lao PDR to make every necessary effort to address and mitigate potential adverse cross-border impacts of the project by taking into account recommendations provided in the Technical Review Report resulted from the prior consultation process.
The notified countries Cambodia, Thailand and Viet Nam made their statements as to what exactly they wished Lao PDR to consider in order to improve the proposed project and address known impacts. The comments were recorded in Reply Forms to Prior Consultation that form a part of the Statement.
“We found that it [Pak Lay project] is needed for further identification of the transboundary environmental impacts considering great assessment and proper mitigation plans and measures,” the Cambodia’s Reply Form reads.
Thailand shared similar comments, asking Lao PDR to pay special attention to “potential socioeconomic and environmental transboundary impacts from the proposed project to affected communities in eight provinces of the country”.
Viet Nam, in addition, suggested Lao PDR to invest more time and resources on additional data collection and improvement of applied impact assessment to address possible impacts across borders in “a more comprehensive manner”. It also recommended a development of “a comprehensive program for monitoring the impacts of the project during construction and operation stages”.
Lao PDR, in an official response, underscored the country’s commitment to addressing negative impacts raised and welcoming future engagement to improve the project.
“Lao government is committed to addressing your key concerns and welcoming further engagement, information sharing, site visits and joint monitoring to ensure that the project does not cause significant transboundary impacts and provide benefits to all parties,” Joint Committee Member for Lao PDR Mr. Chanthanet Boualapa told the meeting.
Joint Action Plans for Pak Beng and Pak Lay hydropower projects approved
Today’s Joint Committee Special Session also deliberated and landed an agreement on the pending JAP for the implementation of the Statement on the Pak Beng hydropower project, and the current JAP for the Pak Lay project.
“The approval creates an avenue for the MRC, related stakeholders, Lao PDR and developer to start exchanging information, data and feedback about the two projects throughout their development and operation cycle,” MRC Secretariat CEO Dr. An Pich Hatda said.
The approved JAPs are a four-phase approach, which will be implemented immediately from now for the life of the project. The purpose is to enhance existing measures to avoid, minimize and mitigate the potential for transboundary impacts, and to enhance the benefits of the projects and the sharing of knowledge and experience amongst the member countries.
The JAPs also layout the projects’ post prior consultation process and provide mechanisms for ongoing feedback, data exchange, and knowledge sharing between the developer and Lao PDR and the MRC and stakeholders concerning the ongoing design, construction and operation.
The 912-MW Pak Beng hydropower project is the third Mekong mainstream dam to be submitted for the prior consultation process under the MRC’s PNPCA, following a 240-MW Don Sahong dam, and a 1,285-MW Xayaburi dam.
Note to editors:
The MRC is an intergovernmental organization for regional dialogue and cooperation in the lower Mekong river basin, established in 1995 based on the Mekong Agreement between Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Viet Nam. The organization serves as a regional platform for water diplomacy as well as a knowledge hub of water resources management for the sustainable development of the region.
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