Last update 2/22/2012 1:27:00 PM (GMT+7)

Mekong River hydropower assessment wins int’l award

VietNamNet BridgeThe “Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of proposed hydropower projects on the Mekong River’s mainstream” made by an expert team, including a Vietnamese consultant, has been selected for the international award “2012 Cooperative Initiative”.

A section of the Mekong River in Vietnam. (Photo: Tuoi Tre)

The International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA) will present the award to the team in May in Portugal, Nguyen Huu Thien, a Vietnamese independent consultant and one of the team members, told Tuoi Tre on Monday, Feb 20.

The team comes from the Australia-based International Center for Environmental Management, Thien said.

The assessment work had been made according to the order placed by the Mekong River Commission and was officially announced in October 2010.

The goal of the SEA is to guide decisions relating to proposed mainstream hydropower projects so that development is equitable and ecologically sustainable.

The SEA report confirms that the building of hydropower dams on the Mekong River’s mainstream will have irretrievable impacts on the ecological system and economic productivity of the river and affect the livelihood and food security of people living in the river’s basin.

With nearly 30 million people estimated to be affected by the mainstream projects, the SEA recommends a 10-year deferral for mainstream hydropower development, saying its decision was prompted by uncertainties about the scale and irreversibility of risks in such a complex river system.

The team also says 50 more relevant research works need to be carried out to ensure that planners are fully informed of the risks.

Along with SEA, the Socio-Economic Assessment Toolbox (SEAT) will be awarded with the prize this year, Thien said.

The Mekong River is 4,909 km long, running from Tibetan Plateau through China's Yunnan province, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam before going to the East Sea.

VietNamNet/Tuoi Tre