Fish drying – Kampong Klheang ‘Floating Village’ – Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia. Photo by Shanti Cantrelle © Feb. 2016

Some especially insightful reports appearing in international journals or media

Why clean energy is a water conservation strategy

The Power of Power: Laotian Village Generates Its Own Electricity

June 29, 2016. In a remote mountain village of northern Laos, a community has developed their own electrical grid, yet faces an uncertain future.

“With our time in Laos drawing to a close, we had traveled 2 hours up the Mekong by boat to reach Khoc Kham, hoping to gain some insight into the relationship between Laos’ remote communities and electricity. As the country works to transform itself into the battery of Southeast Asia, exporting power generated from the Mekong and its tributaries to its wealthier neighbors, we wanted to know what that meant for people like Si Tach who lived on the fringes of modernity. These were people who hunted with slingshots and homemade muskets and hadn’t experienced electric light bulbs until well into the 21st century. Were they benefiting from the damming of the national waterways, either financially or in terms of infrastructure? How was the rush to develop natural resources affecting their traditional ways of life? What did the future hold for such communities?

“Wherever the idea came from, it was a deceptively clever way of generating power with a minimum of technology. A single propeller spun in the current of the stream, which turned a long metal shaft that was connected to a small generator. In essence it was a boat engine working backwards. At first there was only one of these in the village, and it was shared between two families,” Si Tach said. “People used to come to us and rent single light bulbs for their houses and we would charge by the month. Now [ten years later] most families have their own.”

[ED: So Laotians are NOT getting the electricity from the Dams destroying the Mekong and its Tributaries… nor do they need to destroy creeks and rivers to get it. Yet, China, Laos, Thailand & Australia are cashing in on the Dams under the excuse of “poverty alleviation”… when in reality it’s about PROFITS & TRADE AGREEMENTS at the expense of PEOPLE & WATER. With Cambodia and Vietnam’s Mekong Delta being the BIGGEST LOOSERS.]


Huge Proposed Hydropower Dam in Myanmar Draws Local Opposition –
Dam Project Involves Australian Firm

June 10, 2015. A $6 billion hydropower dam planned for a site in Myanmar’s Shan state is drawing fierce opposition from locals who say it will flood an area nearly the size of Singapore, destroying 100 communities. Ethnic Shan community groups and environmentalists are appealing for help to fight the “Mong Ton” project, one of five actively planned hydropower dams planned along the Salween River.

The Shan, one of the ethnic groups involved in sporadic civil wars with the Myanmar government for decades, held several protests in April and May in an attempt to halt the environmental and social impact assessment being conducted by a large Australian infrastructure consultancy firm, Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation (SMEC). The Shan joint statement calls SMEC’s assessments process “simply a sham, aimed to rubber-stamp the Mong Ton dam plans, rather than objectively assess the project’s actual impacts.” It alleges SMEC field surveyors last month “angered local villagers by only explaining the positive impacts of the dam, giving them ‘gifts’ which they saw as bribes, and persuading them to sign documents they didn’t understand.” This allegedly occurred a month after Australian Federal Police raided SMEC International’s headquarters in New South Wales “as part of an investigation into allegations of foreign bribery,” according to an unnamed police spokesperson quoted on April 23 by the Cooma Express newspaper. Australian investigators have not said whether the alleged wrongdoing involves the project in Myanmar.

Nine days after VOA initially queried SMEC for comment the company responded with a written statement saying that contrary to media reports it “has tried to engage with local Civil Society Organizations on numerous occasions, with limited success. Our EIA/SIA team will continue to present invitations to stakeholder groups to discuss the details of the Project at a mutually convenient time and place.” SMEC explained that if the project proceeds, the hydropower plant will produce more than 34 billion KW hours of electricity annually with generated power first meeting local demands and the surplus to be sold to neighboring countries. The company says these sales will provide money for Myanmar’s government “to invest in the local economy.” China, Thailand Back $6 Billion Project…

[ED.: SHAME on Australian Firm consolidating Trade Agreements with China: PROFITS att he Expense of PEOPLE & VITAL WATER RESOURCES!]

Read more:


Forging a New Course for the Mekong – China Reshapes the Mekong

e-BOOK – Jan 28, 2016

Read a Compilation of articles exploring the environmental challenges of dam building along the Mekong River in China and Southeast Asia. See:

  • Eyler, B. (2016). China needs to change its energy strategy in the Mekong region.
  • Philip Hirsch (2016). Laos mutes opposition to controversial Mekong dam.

Balancing hydropower and biodiversity in the Amazon, Congo, and Mekong

January 8, 2016 – The world’s most biodiverse river basins—the Amazon, Congo, and Mekong—are experiencing an unprecedented boom in construction of hydropower dams. These projects address important energy needs, but advocates often overestimate economic benefits and underestimate far-reaching effects on biodiversity and critically important fisheries. Powerful new analytical tools and high-resolution environmental data can clarify trade-offs between engineering and environmental goals and can enable governments and funding institutions to compare alternative sites for dam building. Current site-specific assessment protocols largely ignore cumulative impacts on hydrology and ecosystem services as ever more dams are constructed  within a watershed (1). To achieve true sustainability, assessments of new projects must go beyond local impacts by accounting for synergies with existing dams, as well as land cover changes and likely climatic shifts (2, 3).  We call for more sophisticated and holistic hydropower planning, including validation of technologies intended to mitigate environmental impacts. Should anything less be required when tampering with the world’s great river ecosystems?
[ED: Big mistake by the authors to effectively encourage the construction of Dams around the world, when there are no possible mitigation measures to undo the damage done to rivers by Dams blocking their flow.]

Tropical dams: To build or not to build?

29 January 2016 – Letter by Dr. Phillip Fearnside – commenting on Winemiller et al. 2016  (See article above)

In their Policy Forum “Balancing hydropower and biodiversity in the Amazon, Congo, and Mekong” (8 January, p. 128), K. O. Winemiller and colleagues present a much-needed window on biodiversity impacts of tropical dams. They conclude that “without more careful planning,” impacts will include species extinctions and losses of fisheries and ecosystem services. It needs to be made clear that the most important change required is a fundamental reform of how decisions are made on whether or not to build dams, not the planning of how dams are designed, sited, or managed.

“Validation of technologies intended to mitigate environmental impacts” or improved “design parameters” from better environmental impact assessments (EIAs) pale in comparison with the initial decision: to build or not to build a dam. No amount of adjustment would prevent enormous impacts from a dam like Belo Monte in Brazil—impacts that far exceed what was considered in the EIA, let alone what was considered when the decision to build the dam was made long before the EIA existed.

Winemiller et al. state that the dam projects they discuss “address important energy needs” and that their suggestions for better dam planning would “ensure that societal objectives for energy production are met.” The assumption that these dams are needed is questionable from the standpoint of societies in the three cases presented: the Congo, Mekong, and Amazon basins.  Science 351: 456-457.

Resettlement communities – When local power meets Hydropower

April 28, 2016 – It’s a common enough story. Another hydropower dam is being built in Laos, and villagers must be resettled to a new area as a result of the displacement of their land by the reservoir. Various relevant government bodies are working with the hydropower company to create a resettlement village for those that will need a new home. This is a responsible project, and the government is well equipped to carry out the resettlement with the input of the villagers themselves.

But what does this look like on the ground? How are the villagers interacting with the representatives from the government and the hydropower company? How are they interacting with each other? And what impact do their relationships, locations, and access to information have on the outcome of resettlement?

Dams, drought and disaster along the Mekong River

10 May 2016 – The dry months before the monsoon rains arrive are often tough for Cambodian fishermen and farmers. But with rivers drying up and drinking water running out, conditions have rarely been as bad as they are now. 
The current drought is linked to El Niño, which has been disrupting weather patterns around the world. But the harsh conditions today might only be foreshadowing far worse to come. Climate change will continue to affect the Mekong Basin region, while future droughts are expected to be exacerbated by a string of major hydropower dam projects.

The Mekong – Requiem for a River

2016 – Can one of the world’s great waterways survive its development? Environmentalists think both that such synergies make the harm done by dams greater than governments claim, and that the benefits are overestimated. Touting hydropower as “green” because it can be used in the place of fossil-fuel derived electricity overlooks external costs such as compensation and relocation, lost agricultural productivity and biodiversity, and lowered water quality. And although benefits may be large (especially for electricity exporters), they are hardly overwhelming, especially in the context of broader development. Power demand in the region is expected to more than double between now and 2025—having already doubled from 2005. According to Richard Cronin, a Mekong specialist at the Stimson Centre, an American think-tank, the nine Lao and two Cambodian dams currently discussed would provide just 6-8% of the total electricity needs of the lower Mekong basin by 2030, with most of the power going to Thailand.

For that,” Mr Cronin asks, “you’re going to kill the river?

Basic problems for fish passage by Dams

30 March 2014 – See WWF’s excellent graphics for the Xayaburi Dam in Laos. This applies to ALL Dams.

Dams impacts for fish migrating UPSTREAM. Fish ladders and lifts have been proven to be inefficient mitigation measures, leading to loss of species and thereby, loss of biodiversity. Can’t imagine a 300 Kg Catfish wriggling its way up the ladder…


Dam impacts to fish migrating upstream – via

Impacts for fish migrating DOWNSTREAM through a Dam and its turbines. Many fish, eggs and invertebrates are killed by the turbines. While spillways can kill eggs, young fish and invertebrates through the sheer force of the water. Also, Dam developers make empty promises to upstream communities. They tell them that they can fish from the reservoir (indefinitely). Truth is that, after 1-2 years the fish populations in the reservoir collapse because they can’t breed. So that spells the END of fishing from reservoir.

impacts to fish swimming downstream

Dam impacts to fish swimming downstream – via

China’s Water Hegemony in Asia

2 May 2016 – A severe drought currently ravaging South-east and South Asia has helped spotlight China’s emergence as the upstream water controller in Asia through a globally unparalleled hydro-engineering infrastructure centred on damming rivers. Indeed, Beijing itself has highlighted its water hegemony over downstream countries by releasing some dammed water for drought-hit nations in the lower Mekong river basin. In releasing what it called “emergency water flows” to downstream states over several weeks from one of its six giant dams—located just before the Mekong flows out of Chinese territory—China brashly touted the utility of its upstream structures in fighting droughts and floods.

But for the downriver countries, the water release was a jarring reminder of not just China’s newfound power to control the flow of a life-sustaining resource, but also of their own reliance on Beijing’s goodwill and charity. With a further 14 dams being built or planned by China on the Mekong, this dependence on Chinese goodwill is set to deepen—at some cost to their strategic leeway and environmental security.

Hydro-Hegemony in the Mekong Basin: The Strong Dam where they Can, the Weak Suffer what they Must

April 2014 – This paper argues that power dynamics in the Mekong River basin generally follow a realist power dynamic articulated by Zeitoun and Warner’s concept of ‘hydro-hegemony.’  China can build hydroelectric dams on the Mekong with impunity because it is more powerful and located upstream from the Mekong’s other riparian states. China forum shops between the Mekong regime’s two components and exploits its powerful position to divide the downstream riparian states. China’s actions have eroded the Mekong River Commission’s already-limited legitimacy and driven other states to engage in a ‘tragedy of the commons’ race to exploit and damage the environment. This paper will examine the general issues involved (water and rivers), international regimes governing trans-boundary river basins, the Mekong River’s importance, and the relative power and relations between the Mekong’s five major riparian states. It focuses on China’s relations with the Mekong regime and the Mekong River Commission in particular. It concludes with recommendations for the lower Mekong riparian states, considering that they are unlikely to change China’s behavior and avoid a ‘tragedy of the commons’ in the Mekong river basin.

Hydro-hegemony – A Framework for Analysis of Trans-boundary Water Conflicts

2005 – Zeitoun and Warner – The increasing structural and physical scarcity of water across the globe calls for a deeper understanding of trans- boundary water conflicts. Conventional analysis tends to downplay the role that power asymmetry plays in creating and maintaining situations of water conflict that fall short of the violent form of war and to treat as unproblematic situations of cooperation occurring in an asymmetrical context. The conceptual Framework of Hydro-Hegemony presented herein attempts to give these two features – power and varying intensities of conflict – their respective place in the perennial and deeply political question: who gets how much water, how and why?

Hydro-hegemony is hegemony at the river basin level, achieved through water resource control strategies such as resource capture, integration and containment. The strategies are executed through an array of tactics (e.g. coercion- pressure, treaties, knowledge construction, etc.) that are enabled by the exploitation of existing power asymmetries within a weak international institutional context. Political processes outside the water sector configure basin-wide hydro-political relations in a form ranging from the benefits derived from cooperation under hegemonic leadership to the inequitable aspects of domination. The outcome of the competition in terms of control over the resource is determined through the form of hydro-hegemony established, typically in favour of the most powerful actor.

The Framework of Hydro-hegemony is applied to the Nile, Jordan and Tigris and Euphrates river basins, where it is found that current hydro-hegemonic configurations tend towards the dominative form.. There is evidence in each case of power asymmetries influencing an inequitable outcome – at the expense of lingering, low-intensity conflicts. It is proposed that the framework provides an analytical paradigm useful for examining the options of such powerful or hegemonized riparians and how they might move away from domination towards cooperation.

[ED: Applies perfectly to China’s Hydro-hegemony over the Mekong River.]

Shrinking and Sinking Deltas: Major role of Dams in Delta subsidence and Effective Sea Level Rise.

May 2014 – The integral role of rivers in transporting sediments has been largely neglected. Nonetheless, it is the fluvial sediment which plays an important role in the geomorphology of the rivers, in the fertility of the floodplains, in nutrient balance of rivers and estuaries and in the formation of fertile and densely populated deltas. Close to half a billion people in the world live on or near deltas. Although constituting a relatively small proportion of landmass, deltas not only support huge populations but are important food and fish producing regions of the world and valuable, productive ecosystems which link inland waters and the marine environment.

But today, studies and ground reports are warning us that most of the deltas around the world are shrinking due to catastrophic sea level rise. And not all the blame can be put on climate change. According to several independent scientific studies, the major reason behind this effective sea level rise is delta subsidence. Our deltas are literally sinking, shrinking and are in a grave peril, some of which may not stand the pressures in the coming years. This will impact millions of people, major food producing regions as well as valuable ecosystems.

And the major reason behind sinking and shrinking deltas is sediment trapping by the dams built on the upstream rivers, which has resulted in oceans eroding and eating away deltas. Studies indicate that the reduced sediment load due to sediment retention by dams worldwide represents a volume equivalent to an area of about 7300 km2 assuming a 10 m thick bed of sediments. In South Asia, during the past century, there has been over 94% reduction in Indus delta sediment, over 30% reduction in Ganga-Brahmaputra delta sediment, 94% reduction in Krishna’s sediment, 95% reduction in Narmada, 80% reduction in Cauvery, 96% reduction in Sabarmati ( annual sediment loads), 74% reduction in Mahanadi, 74% reduction in Godavari, etc.

The direct impacts of delta subsidence and effective sea level rise abetted by dams include inundation of coastal areas, saltwater intrusion into coastal aquifers, increased rates of coastal erosion, an increased exposure to storm surges, etc, in addition to the threat to food security, livelihood security, water security to millions and huge loss of biodiversity. These threats have implications for hundreds of millions of people who inhabit the deltaic as well as the ecologically sensitive and important coastal wetland and mangrove forests.

The current environmental governance surrounding dams does not identify or address this issue and hence does not attempt to mitigate it. The report analyses the latest scientific studies in this field and puts together a picture that is disturbing and needing urgent attention.

Tonle Sap pulsing system and Fisheries productivity

2004 – Why is the TONLE SAP LAKE of Cambodia important in Lower Mekong Basin?
The Tonle Sap Lake and its floodplains in Cambodia contain the largest continuous areas of natural wetlands habitats remaining in the Mekong system, while being the largest permanent freshwater body in Southeast Asia. The lake has an extraordinary hydrological system: in the wet season, the Tonle Sap RIVER CHANGES ITS DIRECTION and flows to the Tonle Sap Lake because of the flooding of the Mekong River in June-September (Figure 1). The lake functions as a natural flood water reservoir for the Mekong system and supports the Mekong delta by the stored flood waters in the dry season. The area of the lake varies between dry and wet seasons from 2500 km2 up to about 15,000 km2, while the depth of the lake increases from less than one meter up to 7–9 m (WUP-FIN 2003). The Tonle Sap ecosystem is believed to be one of the most productive inland waters and one of the most fish-abundant lakes in the world (BONHEUR 2001).

Greenhouse gas emissions from Brazil’s Amazonian hydroelectric dams

2016 – Tropical dams are often falsely portrayed as ‘clean’ emissions-free energy sources. The letter by de Faria et al. (2015, Environ. Res. Lett. 10 -124019) adds to evidence questioning this myth. Calculations are made for 18 dams that are planned or under construction in Brazilian Amazonia and show that emissions from storage hydroelectric dams would exceed those from electricity generation based on fossil fuels. Fossil fuels need not be the alternative, because Brazil has vast potential for wind and solar power as well as opportunities for energy conservation. Because dam-building is rapidly shifting to humid tropical areas, where emissions are higher than in other climatic zones, the impact of these emissions needs to be given proper weight in energy-policy decisions.

Human Rights Commission Report Highlights Lack of Accountability in Don Sahong Dam Project

27 April 2016 – “The National Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) has published the outcome of a groundbreaking complaint against Malaysian company Mega First Corporation Berhad for the construction of the Don Sahong Dam in Lao PDR in their newly released 2015 Annual Report. The complaint, filed by a coalition of communities and local and international NGOs in October 2014, sought an investigation into the transboundary environmental and social impacts of the Don Sahong Dam on Thai and Cambodian communities. The project threatens devastating losses to fish catch – the communities’ primary source of food and livelihoods. The complainants asked SUHAKAM to conduct an inquiry into the project and require Mega First to comply with national and international human rights standards, including the responsibility to respect community rights to life and livelihoods and to meaningfully consult with those affected by the project.

SUHAKAM initially accepted the complaint and conducted separate meetings with Mega First, but ultimately concluded in its report last week that it lacked the mandate to investigate a transboundary case and therefore could not proceed further with the inquiry.

Vietnam’s Mekong Delta hit with worst drought in 90 years

23 April, 2016 – Video – Ratifies what we have all been saying. Features our friend and supporter of Scientists for the Mekong, Dr. Duong Van Ni – Expert in Mekong Delta & Biodiversity at Can Tho University, Vietnam. Previously shown in our slideshow on the Delta.

Welcome to Sayabouly – Land of Elephants and Dams

April 8, 2016 – Sayabouly province hosts two of the largest energy production projects in Southeast Asia. These have contributed to a fundamental alteration in its ecological character in a matter of a few years, perhaps more than any other province in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, as it is officially known.

Global and Regional Health Effects of Future Food Production under Climate Change: a Modelling study

March 2, 2016 – One of the most important consequences of climate change could be its effects on agriculture. Although much research has focused on questions of food security, less has been devoted to assessing the wider health impacts of future changes in agricultural production. In this modelling study, we estimate excess mortality attributable to agriculturally mediated changes in dietary and weight-related risk factors by cause of death for 155 world regions in the year 2050. 

Interview: Lao People Fighting For Change ‘Deserve Better Than Silence’

February 16, 2016 – Anne-Sophie Gindroz, a former Swiss humanitarian worker in Laos, observed forced displacement and evictions of rural populations to make way for dams and other controversial infrastructure and plantation projects in the impoverished Southeast Asian country. Gindroz, who was the country director for Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation, was expelled in 2012 for criticizing Laos in a letter to donors that said the country’s one-party regime stifles debate and creates a hostile environment for aid groups. She spoke to Ounkeo Souksavanh of RFA’s Lao Service about her new book, “Au Laos, La Répression Silencieuse,” published in French by Asieinfo Publishing, and to be published soon in English as “Laos, The Silent Repression.”

One of Africa’s Biggest Dams Is Falling Apart

February 2, 2016 – The new year has not been kind to the hydroelectric-dam industry. On January 11th, the New York Times reported that Mosul Dam, the largest such structure in Iraq, urgently requires maintenance to prevent its collapse, a disaster that could drown as many as five hundred thousand people downstream and leave a million homeless. Four days earlier, the energy minister of Zambia declared that Kariba Dam, which straddles the border between his country and Zimbabwe, holding back the world’s largest reservoir, was in “dire” condition. An unprecedented drought threatens to shut down the dam’s power production, which supplies nearly half the nation’s electricity.

Wonder of the aquatic world under threat from plans for Mekong dams

January 9, 2016 – Scientists warn that plans to build dams across Tonlé Sap, south-east Asia’s greatest lake, could be an ecological timebomb threatening the food security of millions.

Working Paper on Economic, Environmental and Social Impacts of Hydropower Development in the Lower Mekong Basin

November 2015 – The proposed hydropower projects on the Mekong River and its tributaries would block fish migration routes, change flood areas, change sediment/nutrient flows and reduce the catch from the largest freshwater fishery in the world. The Costanza report showed that by changing some key assumptions in the MRC Basin Development Plan BDP2 (discount rates for natural resources; fish value) the economic feasibility of the planned hydropower projects would change from positive (as in BDP2) to negative in terms of Net Present Value (NPV). This working paper is a revised, condensed version of the Costanza report. It focuses on a Revised Case (plausible set of key assumptions) and the NPV calculations…

It is concluded that the proposed mainstream hydropower projects would not have a net economic benefit in both the 6 dams and 11 dams scenarios. Furthermore, we have queried some inconsistencies in BDP2 (hydropower NPVs) and challenged a key BDP2 assumption that hydropower profits would accrue to the country where they would be built – this resulted in Lao PDR being the main beneficiary. We have assumed a profit split of 30% for the host country and 70% for the country funding the project and importing the electricity over the concession period (typically 25 years). This results in Thailand and Lao PDR being the beneficiaries whereas Cambodia and Vietnam would bear the main cost of hydropower developments. It is also clear that project developers and electricity importers would benefit but poor, rural farming and fishing communities would suffer.

It is recognised that there are uncertainties in the impact costs and some factors (social/cultural costs, lost capture fisheries, reduced sediment and nutrient flows) may be understated and the hydropower benefits considerably overstated. Further working papers to firm up these NPV values are proposed and it is expected that the negative economic impact of the proposed hydropower projects will increase.

The above conclusions fully support the Costanza report and SEA recommendations for a moratorium on mainstream dams in order to carry out further studies of the social impacts and project risk.

The Mekong River – Stories from the Heart of the Climate Crisis – Interactive

November 26, 2015 – The fate of 70 million people rests on what happens to the Mekong river. John Vidal journeys down south-east Asia’s vast waterway and meets people struggling to deal with the impacts of climate change as well as the ecological havoc created by giant dams, deforestation, coastal erosion and fast-growing cities

Absolute power

June 4, 2015 – Geopolitical tensions over Laos are on the rise, particularly given its unflinching approach to the construction of dams on the Mekong River. “The government has said it plans to quadruple generation capacity between now and 2030 to realize its vision of becoming the ‘battery of Southeast Asia’.”

Flooding From Dam Washes Out Homes, Rice Fields in Southern Cambodia

September 16, 2015 – Local government officials in a southern Cambodian province failed to evacuate villagers in time to prevent their homes and rice fields from flooding after the operators of a Chinese-built hydropower dam informed them a day earlier that they would open the facility’s gates to release excess water from heavy rains, an official said Wednesday.” “The water from the dam flooded nearby rice paddies and the homes of 1,571 families in three communes in Chhouk district, he said. ”

COP21 – Mekong Dolphin Extinction, Hydropower & Climate Change

November 28, 2015 – Scientists for the Mekong offer this article to inform the public, the delegates at COP21, and decision makers worldwide about the impacts of Hydropower Development on the Lower Mekong River. Particularly, their serious repercussions: the Risk to the Food Security of 60 million people in SE Asia, the massive Ecological and Economic Losses, and their vast contribution of Carbon and Methane Emissions to Climate Warming.

We invite you to download the PDF file here: (edited 5 Dec. 2015)
cop21-dolphin-extinction-hydropower-climate-change2.pdf (2mb)

Should we build more large dams? The actual costs of hydropower mega-project development

March 2014 – A brisk building boom of hydropower mega-dams is underway from China to Brazil. Whether benefits of new dams will outweigh costs remains unresolved despite contentious debates. We investigate this question with the “outside view” or “reference class forecasting” based on literature on decision-making under uncertainty in psychology. We find overwhelming evidence that budgets are systematically biased below actual costs of large hydropower dams—excluding inflation, substantial debt servicing, environ- mental, and social costs. Using the largest and most reliable reference data of its kind and multilevel statistical techniques applied to large dams for the first time, we were successful in fitting parsimonious models to predict cost and schedule overruns. The outside view suggests that in most countries large hydropower dams will be too costly in absolute terms and take too long to build to deliver a positive risk- adjusted return unless suitable risk management measures outlined in this paper can be affordably provided. Policymakers, particularly in developing countries, are advised to prefer agile energy alternatives that can be built over shorter time horizons to energy mega-projects.

Dams on Mekong tributaries as significant contributors of hydrological alterations to the Tonle Sap Floodplain in Cambodia

24 Jan. 2014 – River tributaries have a key role in the biophysical functioning of the Mekong Basin. Of particular attention are the Sesan, Srepok, and Sekong (3S) rivers, which contribute nearly a quarter of the total Mekong discharge. Forty two dams are proposed in the 3S, and once completed they will exceed the active storage of China’s large dam cascade in the upper Mekong. Given their proximity to the lower Mekong flood- plains, the 3S dams could alter the flood-pulse hydrology driving the productivity of downstream ecosystems. Therefore, the main objective of this study was to quantify how hydropower development in the 3S would alter the hydrology of the Tonle Sap floodplain, the largest wetland in the Mekong and home to one of the most productive inland fisheries in the world.

China Dams the World: The Environmental and Social Impacts of Chinese Dams

Jan 30 2014 – China’s rapid economic growth has created a series of pressures that has forced the country to engage more closely with a number of low and middle income countries. First, rapid growth is depleting scarce domestic natural resources, including energy resources and minerals, and so part of China’s ‘Going Out Strategy’ encourages overseas investment to access these resources (Mohan and Power, 2009; McNally et al, 2009; Urban and Mohan, 2011). Secondly, as some sectors of the Chinese market become relatively saturated, the first generation of large state-owned enterprises (SOEs) liberalised under the post-1979 reforms need to internationalise and acquire new markets (Huang, 2008). Thirdly, China’s rapid technological advances – such as in energy technology- have made it possible to expand overseas. These three drivers – resource access, new markets, technological advances– come together in the hydropower sector where China is the pre-eminent global player in major dam projects, often with the support of Chinese state finance (Bosshard, 2009; Urban and Mohan, 2011).

Hydropower Development in the Lower Mekong Basin – Alternative Approaches to Deal with Uncertainty

2012 – Governments in the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB) face decisions that involve trade-offs between the economic benefits from hydropower generation and potentially irreversible negative impacts on the ecosystems that provide livelihoods and food security to the rural poor. As a means of comparing these trade-offs, a sensitivity analysis of the benefit-cost analysis of certain Basin Development Plan (BDP) scenarios was undertaken. By changing some key assumptions in the BDP about discount rates, the value of lost capture fisheries, future aquaculture production in the LMB, and the value of lost ecosystem services from wetlands to reflect the full range of uncertainty, at the extremes, there could be a reversal of the Net Present Value (NPV) estimates of the scenarios from a positive $33 billion to negative $274 billion. This report recommends when dealing with large-scale, complex projects: a more comprehensive, integrated human and natural systems framework and adaptive management approach to LMB planning and development that deals with the entire watershed; a more comprehensive analysis and treatment of risk and uncertainty; a more thorough assessment of the value of direct and indirect ecosystem services; a broader set of scenarios that embody alternative models of development, broader stakeholder participation; and better treatment of the effects of infrastructure construction on local cultures and the poor.

Dams contribute to Global Warming

December 2, 2015 – The dam industry advocates for large hydropower projects to be funded by the Green Climate Fund, and many governments boost dams as a response to climate change through national initiatives. They greatly benefit from instruments meant to address climate change, including carbon credits under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), credits from the World Bank’s Climate Investment Funds, and special financial terms from export credit agencies and green bonds. But there are many issues: