Hydropower developments in the Lower Mekong Basin are developing rapidly, with the advent of numerous private-sector/government partnerships and proposals, both on the tributaries and for the Mekong mainstream. High oil and gas prices and concerns over climate change have intensified the focus on hydropower as a renewable technology. Upstream developments on the Lancang-Mekong are also influencing investment decisions downstream.
Under the 1995 Mekong Agreement, the MRC member states cooperate to "optimise the multiple-use and mutual benefits" of water resources and to "minimise the harmful effects that might result from natural occurrences and man-made activities". Based on this mandate, the Hydropower Programme with other MRC programmes to fulfill the following roles in relation to the sustainable development of hydropower:
The programme follows a multi-track approach. Track 1 is aimed at improving understanding of the regional implications of hydropower projects. Some aspects such as changes in flow regime, water quality and sedimentation are already incorporated into the study of cumulative impacts of various development scenarios under the Basin Development Plan and this study will be supported by the Hydropower Programme. Particular focus is required to address one of the most important questions facing mainstream hydropower development - to what extent can the barrier effect of mainstream dams be minimised or successfully mitigated? This issue goes beyond the ability of any single developer, line agency or consultant to answer and requires the broader regional perspective and independent analytic approach that the MRC is able to facilitate.
Track 1 activities underway:
» Expert Group meeting on the Barrier Effect of Dams to Fish Migration, 22-23 September, 2008
» Regional Multi-Stakeholder Consultation on the MRC Hydropower Programme, 25-27 September 2008
» Hydropower Database
» Environmental Considerations for Sustainable Hydropower Development
Track 2 Activities
»Facilitating Dialogue on Hydropower Development
» Proceedings of Regional Multi-Stakeholder Consultation on the MRC Hydropower Programme, 25-27 September 2008, Vientiane, Lao PDR
» Presentations from Regional Multi-Stakeholders Consultation, 25-27 September 2008, Vientiane, Lao PDR
Hydropower project Maps