A policy reversal on Mekong dams has put Hanoi’s credibility – and the river’s fate – on the line
The recent decision by a Vietnamese oil company, Petrovietnam, to invest in a huge dam close to the much-loved World Heritage Site in Luang Prabang, Laos, has caused confusion and dismay for many Mekong experts, civil society groups, and some government officials in Hanoi.
A cascade of dam projects on the Lower Mekong in Laos has triggered consistent expressions of critical concern from Vietnam, with its delta highly vulnerable to such dams’ damaging downstream impacts. Back in 2011, the former Vietnamese prime minister publicly called for all construction to stop on the Xayaburi dam. Vietnam has also called upon Laos to rethink all subsequent dams.