A Reprieve For The Mekong: Xayaburi Dam Delayed

People infront of the embassy in Berlin holding protest signs against the dam At the Laos embassy in Berlin

Apr 25, 2011

On Monday, 18th April, Rainforest Rescue handed a petition with 15,000 signatures against the construction of the Xayburi Dam to the Laotian and Thai embassies in Berlin and Paris. In doing so we expressed our solidarity with local environmental organisations along the Mekong River. We demanded that the Ambassador of Laos should call on his Government to act in the interest of his country's people and environment and stop those plans.

On Tuesday 19th April, government representatives from Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia met to conclude the regional decision-making process on the Xayaburi Dam, the first dam proposed for the Lower Mekong Mainstream. At this meeting the four lower Mekong Basin countries agreed that the decision on the Xayaburi Dam be deferred and elevated to the Ministerial level. The April 19 decision brings a much needed, if temporary, reprieve to the mighty Mekong River.

Whilst Laos proposed to proceed with the dam, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam called for an extension to the decision-making process, citing concerns about transboundary impacts and knowledge gaps that require further study and public consultation. There has been widespread public opposition to the project both regionally and internationally, including criticism of the flawed decision-making process and poor Environmental Impact Assessment.

The Xayaburi Dam is the single greatest threat currently facing the Mekong River and its people. The project would resettle around 2,100 people and directly affect a further 202,000 people living near the dam due to impacts on the river’s ecology and fisheries. The dam threatens 41 fish species with extinction, including the critically endangered Mekong Giant Catfish. A further 23 to 100 migratory species will also be threatened. Due to the devastating and irreversible risks the dam poses to the river’s ecosystem and to food security in the region, International Rivers believes that the project should be canceled. In the coming months, we will continue to pressure the Lao government to cancel the Xayburi Dam, and protect the Lower Mekong Mainstream.

Source: International Rivers

More information:

Save the Mekong Coalition: http://www.savethemekong.org/news_detail.php?nid=263

International Rivers: http://www.internationalrivers.org/