Laos Claims Regional Consultation Process for Xayaburi Dam Complete


Media Kit on the Mekong’s Xayaburi Dam

Laos Claims Regional Consultation Process for Xayaburi Dam Complete

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Laos appears to have defied its neighbors in a move to press ahead with the proposed Xayaburi Dam on the Mekong Mainstream, despite concerns raised by neighboring governments and regional civil society groups. A letter leaked to International Rivers, dated June 8, 2011, reveals that the Lao Government has informed the Xayaburi project developer Ch. Karnchang that the Mekong River Commission’s (MRC) regional decision-making process is now complete, presumably giving Ch. Karnchang the green light to proceed with the project.

The MRC itself, however, is yet to officially announce the regional process as complete. On April 19, 2011, government representatives from Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia met to conclude the regional decision-making process on the Xayaburi Dam. At this meeting the four lower Mekong Basin countries agreed to defer a decision on the project to a Ministerial level meeting, scheduled to take place sometime in October or November. Whilst Laos proposed to proceed with the dam at the April 19 meeting, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam called for an extension to the decision-making process, citing concerns about transboundary impacts and knowledge gaps that require further study and public consultation.

Since plans for the Xayaburi Dam were revived in May 2007, civil society groups and the wider public in the Mekong Region and around the world have called for the project’s cancellation. Despite these requests, in September 2010, the Xayaburi Dam was the first of eleven proposed dams for the Lower Mekong River’s mainstream to be submitted for approval by the region’s governments through a regional decision-making process called the “Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement” (PNPCA) hosted by the Mekong River Commission (MRC). This process has been severely flawed and the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment of extremely poor quality.

The Xayaburi Dam is the single greatest threat currently facing the Mekong River and its people. The project would resettle around 2,100 people and directly affect a further 202,000 people living near the dam due to impacts on the river’s ecology and fisheries.  The dam threatens 41 fish species with extinction, including the critically endangered Mekong Giant Catfish.  A further 23 to 100 migratory species will also be threatened. Due to the devastating and irreversible risks the dam poses to the river’s ecosystem and biodiversity, impacts on local livelihoods and threat to food security, International Rivers believes that the project should be canceled.

For further key information by International Rivers see:

Key information by the Mekong River Commission:

Selected communication with regional decision-makers include:

  • Letter from 263 NGOs to Prime Ministers of Lao PDR and Thailand calling for cancellation of Xayaburi Dam (21 March 2011) [Read the press release and letter]
  • “Save the Mekong” letter sent to the MRC’s Council calling for halt to Xayaburi Dam PNPCA process (25 January 2011) [Read the letter]
  • “Save the Mekong” letter to MRC calling for cancellation of Xayaburi Dam and Halt to the PNPCA Process (13 October 2010) [Read the letter] [Read the MRC’s response]
  • “Save the Mekong” letter to the Prime Ministers of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam delivering 23,110 signature petition calling for cancellation of Mekong mainstream dams (19 October 2009). [Read the letters]
  • “Save the Mekong” coalition meeting with H.E. Abhisit Vejjajiva , Prime Minister of Thailand on 18 June 2009 in Bangkok, Thailand

View further recent letters by civil society groups and newspaper articles at

Contact us:

Ame Trandem
+1 510-848-1155

Pianporn Deetes
+66 814 220 111

Aviva Imhof
+1 510 848 1155

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