Lao PDR Urged to Better Assess Impact of Planned Luang Prabang Hydropower Project

A section of the Mekong River in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR. Photo by Jipe7 (CC BY-ND 2.0)

The Mekong River Commission Joint Committee called on Lao PDR to address comments and recommendations from Cambodia, Thailand, and Viet Nam for the 1,460-megawatt Luang Prabang hydropower project. The recommendations are to (i) conduct further transboundary environmental impact assessments and provide clear sediment management strategies and mitigation measures (Cambodia); (ii) establish an Endowment Fund and determine transboundary impact mitigation measures on socio-economic, livelihood, and environmental aspects (Thailand); (iii) comprehensively assess the cumulative impacts of the project and all Mekong mainstream hydropower projects (Viet Nam).  

Lao PDR stressed its commitment to address key concerns in its Official Response. The country welcomed further engagement, information sharing, site visits and joint monitoring to ensure that the Project does not cause significant transboundary impacts, but provides direct and indirect benefits to all parties and stakeholders. 

The Joint Committee issued a statement that reflects the stakeholders’ concerns and suggestions, and approved a Joint Action Plan for implementation of the statement and to provide a mechanism and platform for ongoing engagement and regular reporting on the project.  

The GMS Energy Sector Assessment, Strategy, and Road Map underlines the significant hydropower potential of the Mekong River and its tributaries—a majority of which are in Lao PDR. It also notes that hydropower schemes could have profound implications for the basin’s sustainable development, and impact lives and livelihoods in all four Lower Mekong Basin countries. 

Last Updated: 7 August 2020