Submission to Foreign Policy Minister Julie Bishop

by Dr. Lilliana Corredor
Founder, Scientists for the Mekong. March 29, 2017

(Edited April 3, 2017)

Submission DFAT – Foreign Policy White Paper Live Q&A with Foreign Minister Bishop.PDF

Facts: DFAT provides Funds & Encourages Hydropower Dam Development in the Mekong River Basin, specifically in Laos, as per document below.

*** DFAT (Publications, 2015). Laos Hydropower and Mining Technical Assistance: final evaluation report – 5 Nov 2015.

Q1: Is it ethical and the best use of Australian money to provide funding for Hydropower Dams in major tributaries of the Mekong River in Laos, and work in tandem with the main Chinese Hydropower Dam Developer “Sinohydro” – while there’s mounting scientific evidence of:

  • The disastrous social, economic and environmental Impacts of Hydropower Dams on the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB) and its people?
  • The crippling long-term debts incurred by Laos & Cambodia for loans by China and Thailand to pay for the Dams and infrastructure? And
  • The rampant violation of Human Rights by China, Laos and Cambodia associated with Dam construction?

Q2: Shouldn’t DFAT support Vietnam and the 20 million people that live on the Mekong Delta by calling for a STOP to Dam construction in the LMB? That is, should Australia reject the economic hardship caused by the potential collapse of the Mekong River Delta – through the loss of land and properties by salt intrusion and rising sea levels – leading to a massive Humanitarian Crisis with the displacement of 7-14 Million people? Thus, an “Environmental Refugee Exodus” of an unprecedented scale?

Q3: Shouldn’t an important Department such as DFAT adhere to the truth and facts when publishing Foreign Policy in its website?

See *** DFAT – Enabling regional economic cooperation and inclusive growth in South-East Asia – 19 April 2016.

In this webpage, DFAT claims:

“Australia’s Mekong Water Resources Program will continue to help develop and better manage the region’s water resources for greater economic opportunities as well as to protect the 60 million people that rely directly on the Mekong River for their livelihoods. Hydropower development is vital for the economic future of countries of the Mekong Basin, and its transparent management is critical to the stability of countries and regional links. Through targeted investments in quality planning, our program is helping countries of the region build hydropower dams sustainably.”

DFAT’s above statements are FALSE and MISLEADING, as explained below:

1. Australia is NOT “helping the better management of water resources in the Mekong basin”. Well on the contrary, DFAT  is helping RUIN the Water Resources by promoting and funding Dams! See impacts below.

2. DFAT is not helping create “greater economic opportunities” for the benefit of the Mekong people. But rather, for the benefit of the Elite, the Chinese Developers, Companies and Banks. In fact, DFAT is helping HARM the economies of Cambodia and Vietnam long-term through:

  • Loss of fisheries and agricultural revenue, which will only get worse.
  • By helping put these countries into enormous crippling debt with China and Thailand to finance the Dams and infrastructure needed.
  • Through the sinking of the Mekong Delta by lack of upstream sediments blocked by the Dams, leading to Salt intrusion by rising sea levels. This in turn, ruins the land and makes it unusable, having already forced the exodus of thousands of farmers from the Delta to the cities in 2016.
  • Dams retaining water have resulted in parts drying up and damaging the Tonle Sap Lake wetlands: vital fisheries nurseries to the Mekong River. Hence, affecting the economy and the poorest people dependent on fisheries, by loss of food supply.

3. Claiming to “protect the 60 Million people that rely directly on the Mekong River for their livelihoods” is scandalous and dishonest. Instead, DFAT is doing exactly the opposite: you are jeopardizing the vital Food Security, Water supply and productive riparian areas on which 60 Million people depend!

4. Hydropower is NOT VITAL for the future of LMB countries! Other sources of energy can be used, including Solar, Wind, Bio-Fuel & even Micro-hydro.

5. Transparent management of Hydropower in the region? Really? For over a decade now DFAT’s Trade partner China, has been promoting repression in the region, resulting in lack of transparency and information blackout. Furthermore, Chinese Developers, Thai Developers and Malaysian Developers have not fulfilled their contractual duties to the displaced communities: the compensation packages are dismal, training has not eventuated, resettlement land offered is non-arable so people cannot even grow their food!

Moreover, Developers have not undertaken Free Prior Informed Consent nor Community consultation of any kind until AFTER starting the construction of the Dams. Also, by not allowing information or even visits to the Dam sites not even by journalists. Where is the transparency in the above? Exactly how is DFAT helping achieve transparency?

6. Planning hasn’t worked out in Laos as per your own report (above), because the Laotians don’t care and don’t follow up.

7. There is no such thing as “building Hydropower Dams sustainably“… This statement is OUTRAGEOUS!
Dams preclude Sustainability, as per its definition:

“Sustainability (from sustain and ability) is the property of biological systems to REMAIN DIVERSE and PRODUCTIVE INDEFINITELY. Long-lived and healthy rivers, wetlands and forests are examples of sustainable biological systems.”

Hydropower Dams in the Mekong River Basin are already fragmenting the river; reducing Biodiversity, Productivity and Fisheries; creating droughts; damaging Wetlands and Floodplains; and sinking the Delta, to mention a few!
How is this sustainable?

See more information and articles that support our statements below.

Overview of Hydropower Dams Impacts & Supporting articles:

1) Hydropower Dams Environmental impacts: BLOCK Fish Migrations, Sediments, Nutrients, Change the Hydrology, Change the Geo-morphology of the rivers, and reduce Water supply downstream and constantly change the water levels disrupting the stability of the ecosystems. Given that the key to productivity of the Mekong is FLOODING and the sediments and nutrients carried by the waters and spread out throughout the floodplains and tributaries, the reduced floods are having serious deleterious effects (and dozens of planned dams are not yet built). That is, decreased productivity, depleted fisheries and reduced biodiversity in the Mekong River and tributaries. Effectively, Hydropower is putting at RISK the Food Security & Water Supply of 60 Million people! Hence, Oz is helping create a Humanitarian Crisis like never before seen!

Please don’t tell us that the Dam engineering has been fixed to allow fish and sediment passage. Below we provide studies that show they do not work! Besides,not all sediments accumulate at the Dam wall. The majority of sediments are spread in the bottom of the huge reservoirs, so will not be going down the Dam improvements any time soon! See supporting studies below.

2) Hydropower Dams have INCREASED POVERTY in Laos and Cambodia among displaced communities instead of benefiting them.

Please do NOT use the excuse of “Reducing Poverty & increasing Quality of Life”. There are several studies in Laos and Cambodia that PROVE that POVERTY HAS INCREASED with different Dams, with Women and children suffering the most! See supporting studies below.

3) Hydropower Dams are constant sources of Green House Gases – i.e. Methane, CO2, Nitrous Oxide. Hydropower is NOT Green & Clean Energy, as advertised by China and Australia to justify the construction of more Dams.

Far from it. In fact, one large Dam produces more GHG than a coal plant! These GHG trigger more Climate warming, resulting in rising sea levels. This in turn, infiltrate the Delta and ruin very productive land, displaces millions of people and ruins the economy of Vietnam… See supporting studies below.

4) Hydropower Dams are posing a serious threat to the viability of the Mekong Delta, the most productive area of the River, the Granary of SE Asia, home to 20 Million people.

Studies’ results indicate that hydropower development dominates the changes in floodplain sediment dynamics of the Mekong Delta, while sea level rise has the smallest effect. The Delta is already sinking, lost nearly 1 Million hectares to seawater intrusion in 2016. If it SINKS by 1meter, 7-14 MILLION people will be displaced & become “Environmental Refugees” – homeless, jobless, hungry. A man-made, partly Australian funded and promoted, Humanitarian crisis without precedent is taking place now and will get worse if any more Dams are built! See supporting studies below.

5) Hydropower Dams in Laos & Cambodia are being built on Human Rights Violations and Repression. Where communities displaced by Dams have NO voice, nor real consultation- despite false claims by the governments. They are forcefully evicted and resettled against their will. Resettlement villages offer non-arable barren land, are over 25Km from the River they know, and often, have no electricity. People can’t grow food, can’t fish and have no money to buy food… How are they to survive? China says they will have to change from a “subsistence living” and adopt a “Market life style”. Promised training has not been consistent nor does it include all displaced people, leaving most hungry. See supporting studies below.

6) Hydropower Development in the Mekong Basin is focused on “Trade Agreements”, which supersede the needs of the people and the environment. The Chinese Government has State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) such as the biggest Hydropower dam Developer in the World “Sinohydro”, and others. Chinese companies unashamedly and openly offer “donations” of great amounts of money to Political Parties, Rich influential individuals (the Elite), Companies and Government Officials to push their projects.

A well known case is Cambodian Tycoon, Kith Meng, Chairman of The Royal Group in partnership with a Chinese Corporate Group: together they are building with Chinese Developer “Hydrolancang”, the Lower Sesan 2 Dam in a major tributary of the Mekong. This partnership is awaiting authorization by the Cambodian Government to go ahead with the 3 most damaging Dams for the Mekong River:
the Sekong Dam, Stung Treng Dam and Sambor Dam.

Another case is Australian Foreign Affairs & Trade Minister Julie Bishop​ (DFAT) who received $500,00 dollars in “Donations” from Chinese Businessmen over the past 2 years for ‘undisclosed’ deals. This:

  1. Ratifies our suspicion about the Chinese Government influencing Australian business & politics.
  2. Explains the joint Hydropower projects in Laos between #DFAT & Dam Developer #Sinohydro.
  3. Confirms our assertions that #Hydropower Development in the Mekong basin is about “Trade Agreements”. And
  4. We can now add: “Chinese Businessmen offer BRIBES and Trade official receive them”!



Australian DFAT must STOP any involvement in Hydropower Development in SE Asia to avoid being partly responsible for economic and irreversible environmental damages to the Lower Mekong River Basin, resulting in a massive Humanitarian Crisis.

DFAT wouldn’t be representing or abiding by the “compassionate principles that characterize the Australian people” if it persists in condoning and funding an environmental, economic and social disaster!

Australian Tax payers dollars would be better used on urgently needed sewage treatment systems in the Mekong Delta & Tonle Sap Lake areas, to improve water quality and reduce disease.


DFAT Foreign Policy White Paper Live Q&A with Foreign Minister Bishop was a disappointment.

Mrs. Bishop emphasized “it is very important for the Government to get the views of Australians”. Yet, the “Community Consultation” lasted 30 minutes!   So much for Democracy!

Julie Bishop insisted that Australia’s Foreign Policy is totally aimed at “Reducing Poverty”, “Enhancing the lives of our neighbours”, “Helping Create Economic Growth and Prosperity for all”... Not quite the on-ground reality.

This Submission was not mentioned. Bishop did not reply to controversial questions, and the short  time allocated ensured there was no time!

We hope that by sending this Submission as a “Paper Document” addressed to her office, she may consider replying to our questions.


Supporting Articles

1) Hydropower Dams Environmental impacts

* Räsänen, T.A. et al. (2017). Observed river discharge changes due to hydropower operations in the Upper Mekong Basin. Journal of Hydrology (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2016.12.023 Read more at:
* Withington, J. (2017). Anthropogenic Rivers: The Production of Uncertainty in Lao Hydropower. Under review. Download here:
* Corredor, L. (2017). Open Letter to the Mekong River Commission.
* Viet Ecology Foundation (2017). Rebuttal to MRC CEO Statement: “Hydropower Development Will Not Kill the Mekong River”. Mekong Eye, March 13, 2017.
* Laos sees little problem with the Pak Beng Dam. Radio Free Asia, Fe. 27, 2017.
* Environmental Experts Voice Concern About Effects of Dam Projects in Cambodia. Radio Free Asia, March 16, 2017.
* Lovgren, S. (2017). Can the Amazon of Southeast Asia Be Saved? National Geographic, News, March 22, 2017.
* Liu Qin (2017). Source of Mekong, Yellow and Yangtze Rivers drying up. China Dialogue, March 8, 2017.
* Mekong Giant Catfish being driven to extinction in natural habitat. The Nation, January 20, 2016.
* Piman, T., Cochrane, T. A., and Arias, M. E. (2016). Effect of Proposed Large Dams on Water Flows and Hydropower Production in the Sekong, Sesan and Srepok Rivers of the Mekong Basin. River Res. Applic., 32: 2095–2108. doi:10.1002/rra.3045.
* Mousset E., Rogers V., Saray S., Ouch K., Srey S., Mith S, Baran E. (2016). Role and value of fish in the welfare of rural communities in Cambodia (welfare data analysis). Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute (Fisheries Administration) and WorldFish. Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 102 pages.

* Baran, E. & G. Gallego (2015). Cambodia’s fisheries: a decade of changes and evolution. Catch and Culture Volume 21, No. 3: 30-33. December 2015. Download here:
* Intralawan,A., D. Wood and R. Frankel (2015). Working Paper on Economic, Environmental and Social Impacts of Hydropower Development in the Lower Mekong Basin. Natural Resources and Environmental Management Research and Training Center, Mae Fah Luang University, Chiang Rai, Thailand, 15pp. Also known as the “EESI Report”.
* Baran E., Guerin E. & Nasielski J. (2015). Fish, sediment and dams in the Mekong – How hydropower development affects water productivity and food supply. Penang, Malaysia: WorldFish, and CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE). 108 pp.
Download here:
* Final Report – Study on the Impacts of Mainstream Hydropower on the Mekong River – Impact Assessment Report. – Report prepared by Malmgren-Hansen, A. (DHI), Anwar Khan (HDR) & Kim Wium Olesen (DHI) for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Vietnam (VNMC)
– 18 January 2016.
In: Comments on: Final Report – Study on the Impacts of Mainstream Hydropower Dams on the Mekong River – Impact Assessment Report. L. Corredor – on behalf of Scientists for the Mekong- January, 26, 2016.
* Keskinen, M. et al. (2015). Water-Energy-Food Nexus in a Transboundary River Basin: The Case of Tonle Sap Lake, Mekong River Basin. Water, 7 (10), 5416-5436; doi:10.3390/w7105416
* Welcomme, R.L. et al. (2015). Fisheries of the rivers of Southeast Asia – Chapter 3.24 – In: Freshwater Fisheries Ecology – Editor John F. Craig, Sept. 2015, Wiley Online Library
* Kim Geheb’s Thoughts on the Greater Mekong River Basin – 22 Oct 2015.
* M.E. Arias, et al. (2014). Dams on Mekong tributaries as significant contributors of hydrological alterations to the Tonle Sap Floodplain in Cambodia – Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., (HESSD), 11: 2177–2209
Download here:
* Zarfl C, Lumsdon A.E., Berlekamp J, Tydecks L, Tockner K. (2014). A global boom in hydropower dam construction. Aquatic Sciences 77: 161–170.
Download here: A global boom in hydropower dam construction – AIDA.
* Ziv, G. et al. (2012). Trading-off fish biodiversity, food security, and hydropower in the Mekong River Basin. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Apr 10; 109(15): 5609–5614. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1201423109
* Cambodian Contractor Proposes Logging Forest to be Cleared For Hydropower Dam. RFA, April 28, 2015.
* Pukinskis, I.L. and Geheb, K. (2012). The impacts of dams on the fisheries of the Mekong. State of Knowledge Series 1. Vientiane, CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food. Available here:
* Pelicice, F.M. & C.S, Agostinho (2012). Deficient downstream passage through fish ladders: the case of Peixe Angical Dam, Tocantins River, Brazil. Neotrop. ichthyol. vol.10 no.4 Porto Alegre Oct. 2012
* M.J. Noonan, J.W.A. Grant & C.D. Jackson (2012). A quantitative assessment of fish passage efficiency. Fish and Fisheries (Impact Factor: 8.26). 12/2012; 13(4).
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-2979.2011.00445.x
* Martins da Silva, L.G. et al. (2012), Fish passage post-construction issues: analysis of distribution, attraction and passage efficiency metrics at the Baguari Dam fish ladder to approach the problem. Neotrop. ichthyol. vol.10 no.4, Porto Alegre Oct. 2012
* Dugan, P. (2008a). Examining the barrier effects of mainstream dams to fish migration in the Mekong, with an integrated perspective to the design of mitigation measures (Conclusions from an independent Expert Group Meeting). Presentation at Regional Multi-Stakeholder Consultation of the MRC Hydropower Programme, 25-27 September 2008 in Vientiane, Lao PDR.
* Barlow, C. (2008). Dams, fish and fisheries in the Mekong River Basin. Catch & Culture, vol 14, no 2, September, Mekong River Commission, Vientiane, Laos.
* Kummu M., J. Koponen & J. Sarkkula (2008). Upstream Impacts On Lower Mekong Floodplains: Tonle Sap Case Study. AMBIO A Journal of the Human Environment (Impact Factor: 2.29). 06/2008; 37(3):185-92.
Download here:
* Baran E. and B. Ratner (2007). The Don Sahong Dam and Mekong Fisheries. A science brief from the WorldFish Center, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
* WWF (2011). Mekong dolphin on the verge of extinction – August 2011


2) Hydropower Dams have INCREASED POVERTY

* Manorom, K, Baird, I.G. & Shoemaker, B. (2017). The World Bank, Hydropower-based Poverty Alleviation and Indigenous Peoples: On-the-Ground Realities in the Xe Bang Fai River Basin of Lao. Forum for Development Studies, DOI:10.1080/08039410.2016.1273850 – Download here:
* Corredor, L. (2017). Podcast on “The Mekong Ecocide” – 55min. interview on the Mekong River and impacts of Hydropower.
* Baird, I.G., B. P. Shoemaker & K. Manorom (2015). The People and their river, the World Bank and its dam: Revisiting the Xe Bang Fai River in Laos. Development and Change 46(5): 1080-1105.
* Baird, I.G & N. Quastel (2015). Rescaling and Reordering Nature–Society Relations: The Nam Theun 2 Hydropower Dam and Laos–Thailand Electricity Networks. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, DOI: 10.1080/00045608.2015.1064511.
Link to this article:
* The World Bank and Dams – Part 2: Dispelling Myths of Nam Theun 2 – Sept. 2015. International Rivers.
* Shoemaker, B.P., I.G. Baird & K. Manorom (2014). Nam Theun 2: The World Bank’s narrative of success falls apart – In: World Rivers Review, International Rivers – December 2014
* Blake, D. (2016). “Welcome to Sayabouly – Land of Elephants & Dams” – April 8, 2016
* Green W. N & I.G. Baird (2016). Capitalizing on Compensation: Hydropower Resettlement and the Commodification and Decommodification of Nature–Society Relations in Southern Laos.– 8 April 2016,
* Katus, S., D. Suhardiman & S.S. Sellamutu (2016). When local power meets hydropower: Reconceptualizing resettlement along the Nam Gnouang River in Laos. Science Direct, Geoforum 72 (2016): 6-15, Elsevier – 23 March 2016
Download here:
* Interview Vérité d’Anne-Sophie Gindroz, auteure de : “Au laos, la répression silencieuse” – Youtube – in French – March 20, 2016.
* Ian G. Baird (2014). Cambodia’s LS2 Dam is a disaster in the making. East Asia Forum – 9 August 2014
* J. Leslie (2014). Large Dams Just Aren’t Worth the Cost. NY Times, 22 August 2014

3) Hydropower Dams are constant sources of Green House Gases – Methane, CO2, Nitrous Oxide. NOT Green & Clean Energy.

* Deemer, B.R. et al. (2016). Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Reservoir Water Surfaces: A New Global Synthesis. BioScience (2016), Vol. 20, No.10 – doi: 10.1093/biosci/biw117
* Fearnside, P.M. 2016. Tropical dams: To build or not to build? Science 351: 456-457. doi: 10.1126/science.351.6272.456-b [ Letter commenting on Winemiller et al. 2016] <publisher link>
* Fearnside, P.M. 2016. Greenhouse gas emissions from Brazil’s Amazonian hydroelectric dams. Environmental Research Letters 11 (2016) 011002 [open access] ISSN: 1748-9326 doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/11/1/011002 <Full text-L> <Free from publisher>
* Fearnside, P.M. 2016. Greenhouse gas emissions from hydroelectric dams in tropical forests. pp. 428-438 In: J. Lehr & J. Keeley (eds.) Alternative Energy and Shale Gas Encyclopedia. John Wiley & Sons Publishers, New York, E.U.A. 880 pp. ISBN: 978-0-470-89441-5). <Preprint-L>
* Fearnside, P.M. 2016. Environmental and Social Impacts of Hydroelectric Dams in Brazilian Amazonia: Implications for the Aluminum Industry. In: World Development, Vol. 77, pages 48-65. Elsevier <Preprint>
* Fearnside, P.M. 2015. Tropical Hydropower in the Clean Development Mechanism: Brazil’s Santo Antônio Dam as an example of the need for change. Climatic Change 131(4): 575-589. doi: 10.1007/s10584-015-1393-3 <Preprint-L> <Publisher link> <doi link>
* Fearnside, P.M. 2015. Emissions from tropical hydropower and the IPCC. Environmental Science & Policy 50: 225-239. doi: 10.1016/j.envsci.2015.03.002 <PreprintL>

4) Hydropower Dams serious threat to the Mekong Delta.

* Mekong Delta sinks into the sea – News VietNamNet, March 22, 2017.
* Dang Nguyen Anh et al. (2016). Assessing the Evidence: Migration, Environment and climate change in Viet_nam: p.32-33. International Organization for Migration (IOM), Geneva. 104pp. Download here:
* ‘Environmental refugees’ in Mekong River Delta expected in future, experts say – News VietNamNet, Nov. 2, 2016.–in-mekong-river-delta-expected-in-future–experts-say.html
* Wright, Stephen (2016). Vietnam warns of dire impact from planned Mekong Dams. Phys.Org, April 5, 2016.
* Laos Announces Hydropower Push at International Conference – Voice of America, March 9, 2016
* Nguyen V.M., Nguyen V.D., Nguyen N.H., M. Kummu, B. Merz & H. Apel (2015). Future sediment dynamics in the Mekong Delta floodplains: Impacts of hydropower development, climate change and sea level rise. Global and Planetary Change 127 (2015) 22–33 – 13 Jan. 2015
Download here:
* Manh NV, Dung NV, Hung NN, Kummu M, Merz B, Apel H. (2015). Future sediment dynamics in the Mekong Delta: impacts of hydropower development, climate change and sea level rise. Global and Planetary Change 127: 22-33. doi: 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2015.01.001
* Residents in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta risk becoming environmental refugees: official – 29 April 2016
* Dandekar, P. & H. Thakkar (2014). Shrinking and Sinking Deltas: Major role of Dams in delta subsidence and Effective Sea Level Rise. SANDRP (South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People). Download here:
* Kondolf, G.M., Z.K.. Rubin & J.T. Minear (2014b). Dams on the Mekong: cumulative sediment starvation. Water Resources Research 50(6): 5158-5169. – 27 June 2014
* Bosshard, P. & P. Dandikar (2014). Life-Giving Deltas Starved by Dams. – Huffington Post . starved_b_5380336.html?ir=Australia
* Kuenzer C., Campbell I., Roch M., Leinenkugel P., Vo Quoc Tuan & Dec S. (2012). Understanding the impact of hydropower development in the context of upstream–downstream relations in the Mekong River basin. Sustain Sci., DOI 10.1007/s11625-012-0195-z, @ Springer Japan 2012.
Download here:

5) Hydropower Dams in Laos & Cambodia are being built on Human Rights Violations and Repression.

* Rujivanarom, P. (2017). Drowning out traditions. The Nation, January 30, 2017.
* RFA (2017). Cambodian Villagers Displaced by Dam Complain of Nonarable Land, Access to Fishing. RFA, March 9, 2017.
* Manorom,K., Baird, I.G. & B. Shoemaker (2017). The World Bank, Hydropower-based Poverty Alleviation and Indigenous Peoples: On-the-Ground Realities in the Xe Bang Fai River Basin of Laos. Forum for Development Studies, 2017
Download here:
* Vietnamese Authorities Arrest Two Bloggers For ‘Spreading Propaganda Against The State’. RFA, March 22, 2017.
* Philip Hirsch (2016). Laos mutes opposition to controversial Mekong dam.
In: Forging a new Course for the Mekong – China reshapes the Mekong – Downstream development in SE Asia. e-BOOK.
* Ian G. Baird (2016): Non-government Organizations, Villagers, Political Culture and the Lower Sesan 2 Dam in Northeastern Cambodia. Critical Asian Studies – 23 March 2016
Download here:
* Corredor, L. (2016). Cambodians Seek Compensation for LS2-DAM Relocation. Scientists for the Mekong, News – Feb. 2, 2016
* Laos: Come Clean on Activist’s ‘Disappearance’. Human Rights Watch. Dec. 15, 2016.
* Evrard, O. (2015). The silenced river – 24 November 2015
* Interview: Lao People Fighting For Change ‘Deserve Better Than Silence’ – Radio Free Asia, 16 February 2016
* Corredor, L. (2015). COP21 – Mekong Dolphin Extinction, Hydropower & Climate Change – 28 November 2015
* Laos : quand l’aide internationale nourrit la repression – 22 March 2016.
* Interview Vérité d’Anne-Sophie Gindroz, auteure de: “Au laos, la répression silencieuse” – Youtube – in French – 20 March 2016.
* Civil Society Condemns Escalating Intimidation of Human Rights Defenders – LICADHO, Cambodian League for the promotion and Defense of Human Rights – May 10, 2016
* ERI (2016). Human Rights Commission Report Highlights Lack of Accountability in Don Sahong Dam Project. Earth Rights international – 27 April 2016
* Mekong Commons (2015). Silence of the Dammed – Missing voices in Don Sahong. July 12, 2015.
* Bosshard, P. (2015). Dammed, Displaced and Forgotten. International Rivers – 27 March 2015
* Complaint to The Human Rights Commission Of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) Against Mega First Corporation Berhad, Project Developer of the Don Sahong Dam, Lao PDR – 20 October 2014
* Concern grows for jailed Cambodian activists amid civil rights crackdown – 10 Nov. 2015
* Open letter to Participants of the 2015 Lao Donor Round Table Meeting | Human Rights Watch, Nov. 5, 2015.

* Lao Court Jails Polish Activist Following Online Criticism of Government – 1 Nov 2015.
* Few Surprised as Laos Fails to Win U.N. Rights Council Seat – Oct 2015.
* Cambodian Activists jailed – Oct 2015.
* Defiant activists deported – The Phnom Penh Post, 23 February 2015
* Activist Alex Arrested – The Phnom Penh Post, 23 February 2015
* Global Witness report ‘Deadly Environment’ –April 2014
* DFAT (2014). Making Performance Count: enhancing the accountability and effectiveness of Australian Aid – Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Nov. 14, 2014.
Download PDF here:
* Chiang Khong Declaration – by The Network of Thai People in Eight Mekong Provinces – 14 March 2014.
* Cambodian police shoot dead leading anti-logging campaigner – The Guardian, April 2012
* Mekong dolphins on the brink of extinction– WWF Cambodia, 18 June 2009
* Report citing pollutants’ threat to dolphins draws furious govt rebuke – The Phnom Penh Post, 19 June 2009
* Dolphin Report ‘unscientific’: govt – The Phnom Penh Post, 25 June 2009
* Dolphin report could lead to false information charges – The Phnom Penh Post, 30 June 2009

6) Hydropower Development in the Mekong Basin is focused on Trade Agreements that supersede the needs of the People, the Best Management of the Environment and Protection of Resources.

* ABC News 24 – Ullman, C., Greene, A. & S. Anderson (2016). Chinese donors to Australian political parties: who gave how much? – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), August 21, 2016 

*McColl,G. & P. Wen (2016). Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s links to Chinese political donors. The SMH, August 26, 2016.

* Chinese political donations raise questions – Chinese companies are the biggest corporate donors to Australia’s major political parties. Courtesy ABC News 24.

* Cambodia, Sri Lanka and the China debt trap. Asia Times, March 27, 2017.

* B.Grimm Power allots B1.8bn for Laos. Bangkok Post: news, March 21, 2017.

*Corredor, L. (2017). Cambodian Mekong Dams – The Elite & Trade Agreements vs. The Poor: news. February 23, 2017.

* China woos Mekong states with loan pledges – 24 March 2016

by Dr. Lilliana Corredor, Founder & Coordinator, Scientists for the Mekong Australia
March 23, 2017

Download here: Open Letter to the Mekong River Commission (Edited).PDF

The MRC should stop finding excuses, and take decisive action to stop Laos and Cambodia from going ahead with any further Hydropower Dam development in the Mekong River mainstream and major tributaries.

Every member of the MRC and of the National Mekong Committees of the Four Lower Mekong countries (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia & Vietnam) KNOWS that Hydropower:

Is NOT sustainable; is NOT a Clean & Green Energy technology; is a constant source of GHG emissions (CO2, CH4, N2O); has been blocking fish migrations since the construction of the Xayaburi Dam in Laos in Nov. 2012; is risking the Food Security of 60 Million poor; is leading to the extinction of hundreds of aquatic species including the Giant Cat Fish, Giant Ray, Irrawaddy Dolphins, and dozens of fish species vital to the diet of communities in the Mekong River; is significantly reducing Biodiversity , and thereby affecting the aquatic food chain; diminishing the fish populations, and thus diminishing the nutrition and health of millions of people who depend on fish for survival; is blocking a high percentage of vital sediments and nutrients that ensure the productivity of the river; is changing the geo-morphology of the river; is further damaging the Tonle Sap lake & Wetlands – i.e. fisheries nursery areas; is reducing water quality; reducing water flows by the upstream Dams in ChinaLaos and Cambodia; is ensuring the sinking of the Delta by lack of sediments that keep it afloat; is ruining the productivity of the Mekong River and its Delta both on land and in the aquatic ecosystem by lack of rich nutrients; is promoting an Environmental Refugees Exodus with Farmers forced to leave the Delta because of sinking lands ruined by salinization; is impacting the economies of Vietnam and Cambodia by loss of fisheries & productive lands, among other issues.

Hydropower Dams in the Mekong basin are actually INCREASING POVERTY and Despair, instead of “improving the standard of living and decreasing poverty” as falsely advertised. It is displacing tens of thousands of people from poor communities from their homes, lands and cultural sites, while offering a dismal compensation, which does not support the people to cultivate food or to fish, forcing them into a “market-life style” promoted by the Chinese, but without appropriate training nor money for food! (Despite the empty promises by the Developers to provide training).

Biodiversity is deeply interlinked with Food Security & Nutrition, and they all depend on a Sustainable Ecosystem. Thereby the need to protect ecosystems that support high biodiversity such as the Mekong River!

It is sheer lunacy to knowingly continue building Hydropower Dams, which are NOT sustainable developments, enhance Extinction rates, put at RISK the Biodiversity, the Food Security, Nutrition & Health of 60 Million poor people in SE Asia!

As the F.A.O. (2017) clearly stipulates in its latest Guidelines on Assessing Biodiverse Foods in dietary intake surveys’:

“Current foods systems are facing mounting challenges to provide growing populations with safe, diverse and nutritionally adequate foods because of resource constraints, environmental degradation as well as the continual narrowing of the food base and the loss of biodiversity. Biodiversity is intricately intertwined with food security and nutrition, for it is critical to the availability of nutrients needed to support health and well-being, as well as to the sustainability of the natural resource base upon which food systems rely. Nutrition is at the heart of the sustainable development agenda.

As it stands, the damage done to fish migrations and biodiversity during the past five years by the three Dams under construction (Xayaburi, Lower Sesan 2, and Don Sahong Dams)which are blocking their reproductive journeys up and down the mainstream and main tributaries, is already irreversible!

Xayaburi Dam, Mekong River, Northern Laos via VientianeTimes

The social, environment and economic impacts of upstream Hydropower development on downstream countries were clearly summarized by Kuenze, C et al. (2012):

Examining hydropower development within the Mekong Basin reveals an obvious conflict interest between the needs of upstream and downstream countries, and especially between the priorities of Mekong upper class decision makers directly or indirectly profiting from the dams and the majority of the rural poor, whose livelihood they put at risk.

Main stem and tributary hydropower dams impact flood-pulse timing variability, which can have grave effects on ecologic niches, ecosystems and biodiversity. They lead to a long-term decrease in downstream sediment load, which reduces the nutritious load to plains, wetlands and agricultural areas.

Sediment loss is expected to aggravate coastal erosion and saltwater intrusion in the Mekong delta—a region already threatened by sea level rise. Endangered natural environments are, however, not only the Mekong delta, but also the Tonle Sap and southern Cambodian floodplains. These regions host over one-third of the Mekong Basin population, which depends heavily onfish catch as a source of daily protein.

Migrating fish will, however, be hindered on their pathway by hundreds of metres of high concrete walls. Fish ladders on such constructions have proven to be mostly inadequate in design, and also cannot prevent migratory fish from losing their sense of orientation when they end up in a slow flowing large reservoir instead of a stream.

At the dam sites themselves, forced relocation of rural populations often leads to a decrease in resilience and impoverishment.

All the above underline the complexities of the water-food-energy nexus in the Mekong region. Many authors argue that the environmental and social costs of cascading the Mekong and its tributaries probably outweigh the benefits of energy generation, improved navigability, and associated economic development.

Any new Dams will ensure the extinction of hundreds of aquatic species, a massive loss of biodiversity, the irreparable damage to the Tonle Sap Lake nurseries, will continue sinking the Mekong Delta, and increase the number of ‘Environmental refugees’ fleeing the Delta. Such exodus already started in early 2016, with thousands of Vietnamese being forced off their land by subsidence, salinization and drought. This resulted in the loss of productive land in the Delta and with it, the loss of crops and property.

“About 971,200 hectares of farming area in eight provinces of the Mekong Delta has been affected by salt water, Le Quoc Doanh, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said.”

The more Hydropower dams are built upstream, the more serious the impacts felt downstream! Every new Hydropower Dam is another nail in the coffin of the Mekong Delta of Vietnam.

According to Dr. Le Anh Tuan of Can Tho University (Personal Communication, Feb 2016), over HALF the population of the Mekong Delta, i.e. 10 MILLION people (!) could become “Environmental Refugees” as the result of the Mekong Delta sinking over 1-1.5 metres – courtesy of more Hydropower dams upstream retaining vital sediments that keep the Delta afloat; and, exacerbated by rising sea levels due to Climate Warming. In turn, Climate Warming is further increased by constant GHG emissions by Hydropower Dams!

“An environmental refugee is someone forced to leave their traditional habitat, temporarily or permanently, because of a marked environmental disruption” (as defined by Prof Essam El-Hinnawi.)

New Study  findings indicate a WORSE scenario than that mentioned above:

It has been estimated that, if the sea level rises by ONE METER > 39 % of the Mekong River Delta’s lands will be under water!

“This could displace more than 7 MILLION residents and flood the homes of more than 14.2 MILLION people in the Mekong River Delta; in addition to submerging HALF of the region’s cultivated land (Warner et al., 2009).”

“Sea-level rise, combined with other slow-onset processes, is expected to increase saltwater intrusion and degrade freshwater resources, reducing the viability of cultivable land and destroying mangrove forests, especially in the south of the country (ADB, 2013a).”

On the other hand, it is important to recognize that:

Laos officials in charge of the Hydropower projects on the Mekong mainstream, are effectively the main decision makers and decide the future of the Lower Mekong River and its 60 Million people. They happen to be under the control and tutelage of China, and supported by Oxfam Australia (Oxfam Manager for Cambodia, Personal Communication, October 2015.)

Of great concern is Laotian officials high level of ignorance, and disregard for social and environmental welbeing. The Director-General of the Lao Ministry of Energy and Mines, Daovong Phonekeo, told Radio Free Asia during a meeting of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) in Luang Prabang on Feb. 17, 2017:

“The Lao government has already decided to go ahead with the [Pak Beng] project because it is a good project,” he said.

It will turn water into a USEFUL RESOURCE instead of letting the water flow down the River USELESSLY. We want to make this resource more valuable.” (!?!)

NOTE: A main Laotian bureaucrat that makes the decisions that affect the Lower Mekong River and WHO SEES NO VALUE IN A RIVER, which feeds 60 million people, supports a $7 billion dollar fisheries industry, provides water for drinking, irrigation, a multi-million dollar aquaculture industry, and supports a multi-billion agriculture industry, among a myriad of other services, is indeed a serious threat to the shared governance of the Mekong River.

As he clearly stated, Laos has already decided to forge ahead with its 3rd Dam in the Mainstream of the Mekong River, the Pak Beng Damregardless of the fact that there isn’t a completed EIA in place and not caring what the MRC says…

On the other hand, at the same event in Luang Pragang in Feb. 2017, the CEO of the MRC, Mr Pham Tuan Phan, did not acknowledge the Pak Beng Dam is going ahead. Instead he stated:

According to the procedures, we have one month to review whether documents and data of the project are comprehensive or not, and 6 months later, we will consider the project on technical aspects. Thus far, we could not give out any comment yet. After 3 or 4 more months, we will conduct another regional consultation meeting on this project. At that time, we will able to give out some certain assessments.”

The meetings with the MRC are clearly a ‘mere formality’ to pretend all diplomatic avenues are being covered…   It begs the question: Why bother and waste valuable sponsorship money if Laos will do as it pleases regardless? It’s an exercise on futility, and a Machiavelic charade…


The MRC and the governments of China, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Australia – are promoting a Humanitarian Crisis in SE Asia as never before seen, in the name of “Economic Development & Growth”:

  • Loss of Food Security for 60 Million people
  • Displacement of up to 14 Million people in the Mekong Delta alone
  • Displacement of tens of thousands of people for Dams’ reservoirs 
  • Irreversible Loss of Biodiversity
  • Irreversible Ecological damage
  • Irreversible damage to the Fisheries &
    Economies of Vietnam and Cambodia.

It is unacceptable that this be done to favor Trade Agreements, which mostly benefit the Elite, Developers, Companies and Banks, but not the people.

This lack of social and environmental responsibility is immoral and highly unethical!

We urge the MRC to STOP the “diplomatic excuses” and take action as per your mission statement. There are enough studies that support a Ban on Hydropower Development in the Mekong basin for all the reasons stated above, and as the MRC itself advised in 2010.

Laos and Cambodia must not be allowed to build any more Dams in the Mekong  River Mainstream or major tributaries, as proposed.

If the MRC really cared and wanted to align to its core mission of ensuring the balanced and equitable use of the Mekong River, it could apply the principles of International Law – regarding the Shared Governance of the Mekong River – by taking the case to the High Court in Geneva to resolve the issues of: protection of the Food Security of  60 Million people, the biodiversity and  the viability of the Mekong River Ecosystem.

For other details, we invite you to listen to our Podcast #1 , which offers the public an Overview of this “Mekong River Ecocide”, and spells the facts as they are. A forthcoming Second Podcast will address: the MRC lack of responsibility permitting the construction of other Dams, such as Pak Beng Dam to go ahead. We’ll also expand on the impacts on the Mekong Delta, the Tonle Sap Lake & Wetlands, Aquaculture and more.

Link to Podcast #1:

Clean Waters and Productive Water Ecosystems
are the RIGHT of every human, animal and plant on Earth

Dr. Lilliana Corredor
Founder & Coordinator, Scientists for the Mekong
B.Sc. – Biology & Chemistry
M.Sc. – Marine Biology
Maîtrisse – Oceanographie Générale
D.E.A. – Oceanographie Biologique
Ph.D. – Behavioural Sciences
Environmental Educator
Gold Coast, Australia
Skype: lillianacorredor
Twitter: @Amarial1 and @Amarial3


Dang Nguyen Anh et al. (2016). Assessing the Evidence: Migration, Environment and climate change in Viet_nam: p.32-33. International Organization for Migration (IOM), Geneva. 104pp. Download here: