International community speaks out against planned Don Sahong Dam on Mekong River

Elisa Norio in front of the Embassy of Laos in Washington DC Rainforest Rescue's activist Elisa Norio at the Lao Embassy in Washington DC (© Rettet den Regenwald)

Jan 22, 2015

Our petition “The Mekong River means life: stop the Don Sahong Dam” expresses grave concern over the planned hydropower project and its potential impact on the environment, livelihoods and food security in the Mekong region. Yesterday and today we submitted the petition, which urges Mekong prime ministers to immediately cancel the dam's construction, to the relevant authorities.

More than 85,000 people from around the world signed our petition calling for the cancelation of the Don Sahong Dam on the Mekong River in southern Laos. On January 21 and 22, Rainforest Rescue submitted the petition to the embassies of Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam in Washington DC in the run-up to a meeting of the four governments to decide the project's future.

“The Mekong River is of global importance,” said petition coordinator Guadalupe Rodriguez of Rainforest Rescue. “It is a vital resource for the entire Mekong region and a lifeline for our planet, and as such must be protected and sustained. With this petition, the international community has shown its opposition to the Don Sahong Dam and demonstrated to Mekong leaders that the world is watching.”

The Don Sahong Dam is the second dam planned for the lower Mekong mainstream, located less than two kilometers upstream from the Cambodian border in a critical and unique area of the Mekong known for its abundant biodiversity and fish species. If built, the Don Sahong Dam would block one of the main pathways in the Mekong used year-round for fish migrating throughout the region and have a disastrous impact on inland fisheries and consequently the food security and livelihoods of millions of people. The project would also jeopardize the survival of one of the last remaining populations of critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphins, whose habitat is located immediately downstream of the dam site.

The Don Sahong Dam has drawn widespread criticism – also from the governments of Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, which have expressed concern over the transboundary impacts of the project and called for further studies to be carried out.

“The Don Sahong Dam has raised concern throughout the Mekong region and around the world,” said Guadalupe Rodriguez. “Mekong leaders have a responsibility to change course before it is too late by calling for the cancelation of the Don Sahong Dam and prioritizing the sustained future of a healthy Mekong River.”