Vientiane, Lao PDR, August 23, 2018
—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and the Government of Lao PDR are conducting a basin-wide Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA) of renewable energy development in the Sekong River Basin. It is the first ever CIA to be conducted according to the draft CIA Guidelines for Hydropower Projects in Lao PDR and will result in recommendations for a variety of sustainable scenarios for the development of this important national resource.
The Government of Lao PDR has prioritized the expansion of power generating capacity over the coming years to reach an estimated potential of about 26,000 MW – one of the region's highest. As of 2018, over 50 hydropower projects and a number of other renewable energy projects were under development across the country.
This cumulative impact assessment of the renewable energy sector in the Sekong River Basin comes at a time when implementation of good environmental and social standards is key. It is one of the few remaining major Mekong tributaries with high biodiversity value and few hydropower projects in operation, and provides a unique opportunity to better understand and manage the risks of development to the environment and local communities.
“There are many demands on the Sekong River Basin. Not just from hydropower projects, but also from logging, mining and forestry activities,” said Dr. Daovong Phonekeo, Director General of the Cabinet, Ministry of Energy and Mines, Lao PDR. “We need to understand the possible impact that all these activities together will have, in order to plan for the sustainable development of this critical national resource.”
IFC, with the support of the Australian government, is working in partnership with the Ministry of Energy and Mines to build capacity on how to carry out best practice CIAs and effectively implement the guidelines. Over the next nine months the Sekong River Basin CIA will undertake broad consultations with stakeholders and technical experts, and produce a final evidence-based report with recommendations on a variety of renewable energy development scenarios.
been working with the Government of Lao PDR to provide assistance on sustainability and advance environmental and social standards in the hydropower sector since 2012,” said Kyle Kelhofer, IFC Country Manager for Lao PDR, Vietnam and Cambodia. “This pilot of the draft CIA Guidelines is an important next step in finding the best balance between meeting the energy needs of the country, as well as the region and protecting the environment and communities.
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