On April 19th, the Joint Committee of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) met to discuss the Xayaburi hydroelectric project – the first dam proposed on the main stem of the Lower Mekong River. We understand that members of the MRC did not reach consensus on whether the project should proceed and agreed that a decision be tabled for consideration at the ministerial level at a later date.

The United States recognizes the important role that dams can play in managing water resources to advance economic growth and protect against floods and droughts. At the same time, our own experience has made us acutely aware of the economic, social and environmental impacts that large infrastructure can have over the long-term. In coming years, Mekong basin countries anticipate widening development, with 11 proposed main stream dams and over 70 tributary dams. These decisions should be taken deliberatively, informed by the best science and consultation with all stakeholders.

The United States welcomes the recognition by riparian states of the need to consider fully the potential economic, environmental and social impacts of hydropower development and their efforts through the MRC's prior consultation process. The United States values its long-standing partnership with the MRC and its member nations. We encourage the countries to continue to work together to realize their shared vision of an economically prosperous, socially just and environmentally sound Mekong River basin.

Source: U.S. Department of State

Source URL: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2011/04/161791.htm