The Use of Environmental Impact Assessment in Laos and its Implications for the Mekong RIver Hydropower Debate
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Hydropower development in the Lower Mekong Basin is occurring at a rapid pace. With partial funding from international financial institutions has come pressure on the riparian governments to ensure that the potential environmental and social impacts of hydropower projects are properly considered. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is one of the primary environmental management tools being proposed to fulfill these obligations. This raises the question of whether EIA is serving its intended purpose in the Lower Mekong, and more specifically Laos, or is instead being produced to fulfill basic funding requirements. Based on a comprehensive literature review, in-country research, and analysis of current hydropower cases studies in Laos, this paper seeks to assess the impact EIA is having on the hydropower decision-making process. Current EIA application practices show that it may not be readily transferable from its socio-political origins to the current Lao context. To have a more meaningful impact, EIA application needs to be equipped with necessary institutional arrangements and a more integrated and transparent public participation process.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
SubjectMekong EIA water Laos hydropower
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