Mekong hydropower: drivers of change and governance challenges uri icon

abstract

  • The Mekong River is the longest watercourse in Southeast Asia. While China has an extensive hydropower program underway on the Upper Mekong, as yet there are no dams on the rivers' lower mainstream. But up to twelve additional mainstream projects are proposed for the Lower Mekong (LM). These would generate substantial energy and wealth for the beneficiaries. In combination with Chinese dams, the LM hydropower cascade, if built, will also transform the river, altering natural flow patterns, disrupting fisheries and other ecosystem services, undercutting the livelihoods of millions of river-dependent people. New dams are driven by a host of factors: changing demographics, human development needs, energy and food security concerns, economic cooperation, climate change, and others. We link these social, ecological, economic and political forces to ongoing issues in regional governance and discuss how to improve the quality of Mekong hydropower decision making in a complex transboundary setting

publication date

  • 2012
  • 2012