The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, in cooperation with the Mekong River Commission (MRC), held in Luang Prabang on Feb 22 a regional stakeholder forum to discuss the MRC Council study, the proposed Pak Beng Hydropower Project, and issues of common interest regarding the work of the MRC.
The forum was attended by the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment and MRC Council Member of the Lao PDR, Mr Sommad Pholsena, a variety of stakeholders representing MRC member countries, development partners, NGO colleagues and civil society representatives, as well as research academies, institutes, the private sector and media.
“This Regional Stakeholder Forum aims to provide an opportunity for different stakeholder groups to get together and discuss issues of common interest regarding the MRC work. This is a chance for dialogue, for you to have better understanding of our role and mandate, and for us to listen to your concerns and to note your messages, and to take actions if we can,” said CEO of the MRC Secretariat Pham Tuan Phan.
The forum gave MRC an opportunity to consult with its member countries, interested stakeholders and the public on their views and concerns over the proposed Pak Beng Hydropower Project as well as to identify better engagement and a more effective assessment approach for the MRC Council study.
The knowledge, information, data and assessment tools from the study will also support the assessment work for the prior consultation process of the mainstream development project.
Speaking of the MRC procedures and hydropower projects, the MRC Member Countries have agreed on the importance of public engagement. The MRC cares about the concerns of stakeholder groups and interested parties for the well-being of the people living in the Mekong Basin.
Consultations and meetings will be held at regional and national levels as part of the prior consultation process.
“We are trying our best to support the Mekong countries meeting the needs for country development, but balancing interests and needs to ensure the sustainable development and management of the Mekong basin that is also very crucial for the MRC to perform,” said Mr Pham.
Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sommath Pholsena said that the events will offer chances to discuss with MRC member countries and development partners to ensure that the interests of Lao people and those living in countries in Mekong river basin are taken into consideration, according to the Vietnam News Agency.
Lying in Pak Beng district in the northern province of Oudomxay, the Pak Beng hydropower plant has a designed capacity of 912MW and will have an average annual generation output of 4,775 GWh per year. It is the third plant on the Mekong River mainstream following Xayaboury and Don Sahong.
In Nov 2016, the Lao government submitted a detailed description of the Pak Beng plant to the MRC Secretariat to seek approval for the six-month prior consultation process which started on Dec 20, 2016.
Source: Lao News Agency