Backgrounder: The Mekong River Hydropower Program

September 25, 2008 at 6:39 am Leave a comment

VIENTIANE, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) — The Mekong River Commission (MRC) on Thursday launched consultation meeting for the regional Mekong Hydropower Program platform here on Thursday, aiming to shape a way for the river’s future hydropower development which is shared by Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and China.

Hydropower developments in the Lower Mekong Basin are developing rapidly, with the advent of numerous private-sector/government partnerships and proposals, both on the tributaries and for the Mekong mainstream. High oil and gas prices and concerns over climate change have intensified the focus on hydropower as a renewable technology. Upstream developments on the Lancang-Mekong are also influencing investment decisions downstream.

The MRC approved its Hydropower Strategy in 2001 and drafted a Concept Note for its Hydropower Program in 2005. These documents were a comprehensive attempt to interpret emerging international good practice and lay out what it meant for the Mekong region, and identify strategic work areas and possible components of the program.

Although due to funding constraints, the Hydropower Program did not start until earlier this year, a number of the strategic directions and activities identified under the Strategy were already incorporated into other related MRC programs.

Under the agreements, the MRC member states cooperate to “optimize the multiple-use and mutual benefits” of water resources and to “minimize the harmful effects that might result from natural occurrences and man-made activities”.

Based on this mandate, the Hydropower Program with other MRC programs to fulfill the following roles in relation to the sustainable development of hydropower: undertaking applied research to improve understanding of the natural processes in the river system and the consequences of development proposals; providing a basin-wide integrated water resources management strategy within which individual project proposals can be assessed; analyzing the cumulative impacts of various future development scenarios; administering formal notification and consultation procedures; undertaking specific studies and providing interpretation of project proposals where requested; building capacity for sustainability assessment; monitoring river hydrology, environmental health and productivity.

Editor: Wang Hongjiang

Entry filed under: Economy and Trade.

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