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Lao PDR

Children watch the river at Pak Beng. Photo courtesy of Marcus Rhinelander/International Rivers.

Activists, technical experts, and officials from other Mekong Basin countries have recently spoken out against plans to construct a mainstream dam at Pak Beng.
  • The Pak Beng Dam is the third mainstream dam planned for the lower Mekong River in Laos, where the government says hydropower development will help address poverty in the country.
  • Analysts have raised concerns over the dam's potential impacts on fisheries and other social and environmental impacts both locally and throughout the Mekong River Basin.
  • Recent criticism has come from a report commissioned by International Rivers, a regional coalition of NGOs, and technical reviews discussed at a recent meeting of the Mekong River Commission in Vietnam.

Read more: A rising chorus of voices condemns Laos’ planned Pak Beng dam

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Lao PDR is adopting key policy reforms to make its strong economic growth benefit more people, especially the poor and disadvantaged, while protecting the environment, supported by a new US$38.6 million credit which was approved today by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors.

The country’s First Programmatic Green Growth Development Policy Operation aims to establish the foundations for ‘green growth’ planning and strengthen environmental protection and resilience to climate change in Lao PDR.

“Green growth is cleaner, more resource-efficient, and more resilient to risks such as climate change,” said Dr. Kikeo Chanthabouly, Vice Minister of Planning and Investment for Lao PDR. “This development policy operation is closely linked with the strategic priorities of the Government of Lao PDR’s 8th National Socio-Economic Development Plan, and can help to sustain strong economic growth while also protecting the environment and human health.”

Read more: Lao PDR to Adopt Green Growth, with World Bank Support

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Laos is set to move forward to build Pak Beng hydropower dam on Mekong mainstream, but technical reports about the project still do not provide adequate information.

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Vietnamese Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment and Chair of the Vietnam Mekong River Commission, Tran Hong Ha, on May 12 chaired a workshop on the building of the Lao Pak Beng hydropower project on the Mekong - a controversial Laos project.

Ha emphasized that the reports about the project shown in the latest round of consultation showed inadequate information and outdated data. 

Read more: Scientists urge postponing Pak Beng hydropower project

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