Saturday, March 9, 2013

Events: Balancing Act on the Mekong: Building Linkages for Sustainable Dam Development organized by Woodrow Wilson Center on 25 Mar 2013


Balancing Act on the Mekong: Building Linkages for Sustainable Dam Development

March 25, 2013 // 2:00pm — 3:30pm

Environmental Change and Security Program
Asia Program

The Mekong Region is a massive ecosystem that is the lifeline for more than 60 million people across six countries: China, Laos, Burma/Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. For the people in the Lower Mekong Basin, it provides more fish to more people than any other river in the world.  With an estimated commercial value exceeding US$2 billion per year, it is the world's most valuable inland fishery.
In this densely packed and rich river ecosystem, 153 hydropower dams are currently planned, under construction, or commissioned for the Mekong and its tributaries, many of which by Chinese hydropower companies.  If constructed, the dams will radically alter the basin's hydrology, ecology and, consequently, the lives of millions who depend upon it.  The question is: how can these seemingly opposite demands be met? Is sustainable development in the region capable of meeting the rising demands for energy and economic growth?
Speakers will discuss some of the socioeconomic, political and environmental issues related to transboundary governance of the Mekong, particularly the role and influence China is exerting.  What are the potential opportunities and concerns?
In contrast to the media’s often black and white portrayal of these issues, the speakers will strive to present a more nuanced picture of the situation on the ground in order to build a constructive dialogue. Michael Victor will discuss work using the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol (HSAP) and efforts to build bridges between Chinese and Mekong academics and NGOs. Robert Mather will talk about IUCN’s Mekong Water Dialogue initiative that is engaging governments in the basin on trans-boundary water governance issues in the Lower Mekong and how these approaches need to be extended to the whole basin, including China. 
We will also screen 10 minutes of the recently released documentary Mekong, which examines the issues of hydropower development and its impact on the lives of citizens in the basin. The documentary was produced and directed by Douglas Varchol, with support from CGIAR Challenge Program for Water & Food, IUCN’s Mekong Water Dialogue, and the Swedish International Development Agency. 

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