Lower Mekong River

Construction for the Xayaburi Dam on the Mekong River is ongoing but protested.
Image: Shutterstock

The WWF said in a statement early last week that leading non-governmental organizations issued a joint declaration on Monday protesting against the ongoing construction of the Xayaburi dam on the Mekong River mainstream. In the declaration, the organizations also called on the Thai government to cancel the Power Purchase Agreement relating to the controversial hydro-power project.

39 international and national NGOs and civil society groups, including International Rivers and WWF, signed the declaration, which will come ahead of this week’s Mekong River Commission (MRC) Summit.  The summit is attended by Heads of Government from the four Lower Mekong countries – Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand.

The first dam to enter the MRC’s consultation process, the Xayaburi project is a crucial test case for 10 other dams proposed for the Lower Mekong mainstream, according to WWF. All countries must jointly review projects proposed for the Mekong mainstream according to MRC process. “Cambodia and Vietnam have never approved the Xayaburi dam. Nevertheless, Laos is marching ahead with construction without agreement among its neighbors,” said Kraisak Choonhavan, leading environmental activist and former chairman of Thailand’s Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.

The Lower Mekong is one of the world’s last large untamed stretches of river. It supports nearly 60 million people with its rich fisheries, which in order to migrate would need swim through the dam. “There are no internationally-accepted, technologically-proven solutions for mitigating the Xayaburi dam’s impacts on fish migrations and sediment flows,” said Marc Goichot, sustainable hydropower lead with WWF-Greater Mekong.