Assessment of Sekong River Basin in Lao PDR will include hydro and renewable energy scenarios

An assessment of the southern Sekong River Basin in Lao PDR is being performed that will “help decision makers and private sector better understand the cumulative impacts of energy project development in areas where multiple projects are planned.”

According to a press release from Multiconsult in Norway, Multiconsult, Deltares and Lao Consulting are working with the International Finance Corporation (a member of the World Bank Group) to complete this work.

Multiconsult says the Sekong is “one of the most important tributaries of the Mekong” and, together with the Sesan and Srepok rivers, forms a system known as 3S in the lower Mekong.

The partners will examine various hydropower and renewable energy scenarios for the Sekong basin and assess its overall cumulative impacts on the environment, livelihoods and economy. The study also will provide recommendations for future sustainable hydropower and renewable energy development on the Sekong, including plans and measures to avoid-minimize-compensate the cumulative impacts, Multiconsult says.

“Our work will pioneer cumulative impact assessments in Lao PDR,” says Leif Lillehammer, team lead with Multiconsult. “Multiconsult is looking forward to presenting a study that achieves a balance between development and environmental sustainability.”

The assessment is planned over the next 10 months and will provide on-the-ground input for improving the Lao PDR draft Cumulative Impact Assessment Guidelines, an IFC initiative. IFC has been working with the government of Lao PDR and the private sector to help advance environmental and social sustainability since 2013.

“IFC is rolling out cumulative impact assessments across the Asia region and in Lao PDR, and we have a unique opportunity to build greater understanding of CIA concepts and help improve planning in the Sekong River Basin,” said Kate Lazarus, IFC environmental and social hydropower advisory team lead. “The Sekong is home to important aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity that will be affected by development.”

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Elizabeth Ingram is content director for the Hydro Review website and HYDROVISION International. She has more than 17 years of experience with the hydroelectric power industry. Follow her on Twitter @ElizabethIngra4 .

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