Mekong Infrastructure Tracker 2020 Annual Report

A 2020 review of the data and activities for the Mekong Infrastructure Tracker
By Courtney Weatherby Lead author  ·  Regan Kwan Co-author  ·  Brian Eyler Co-author  ·  Allison Carr Data support and visualizations

The 2020 Annual Report for the Mekong Infrastructure Tracker highlights key takeaways and analysis of the Tracker’s data, its suite of tools and resources, and user engagement since its official launch in May 27, 2020. The Annual Report includes an overview of the Tracker’s infrastructure databases and socio-economic and environmental data layers; user engagement efforts through workshop sessions, virtual hackathons, and social media platforms; and national data summaries for each of the Lower Mekong countries. Finally, the report summarizes commitments to expand the platform and activities in 2021.

Executive Summary

The Mekong Infrastructure Tracker is a comprehensive, free online platform that provides accessible data on infrastructure across all stages of development throughout the five countries of the Mekong Region. The Tracker is a resource for government officials, private developers, academic researchers, civil society, and other stakeholders to track, monitor, and quantify the development of energy, transportation, and water infrastructure assets and the social, economic, and ecological changes that this infrastructure brings to Southeast Asia.

The Tracker consists of online interactive tools and resources which help fill an existing knowledge gap about the type and scale of the infrastructure boom in the Mekong region and builds a community of stakeholders who can utilize this data to support a more sustainable future for the Mekong region. The Mekong Infrastructure Tracker is hosted by the Stimson Center and is part of the five-year Mekong Safeguards Activity (2018 – 2023), which is supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by The Asia Foundation. The Tracker harnesses the power of data transparency across two analytical tools: the Mekong Infrastructure Tracker Dashboard and the Project Impact Screener.

The Dashboard enables policymakers, government regulators, infrastructure developers, researchers, and the general public to grasp the type and scale of the infrastructure boom in the Mekong region. Users can browse through descriptive data on more than 6000 infrastructure projects in the tracker’s power generation, linear infrastructure (roads, rails, and waterways), and industrial zones (airports, special economic zones, and other zones of industrial and economic activity) databases. Stakeholders can use the Tracker Dashboard to explore trends such as how solar power generation has been deployed over time or track how outside partners like China, Japan, and Thailand invest in different types of infrastructure across location. The Tracker also allows users to contribute and update data through a verification process.

The Project Impact Screener helps consider the environmental and socio-economic risks to and impacts from infrastructure. Interactive GIS layers (i.e. critical bio-diversity habitats, sea-level rise, geological information, and socio-economic indicators, etc.) will reveal current and future risks that are of interest to all stakeholders. To promote timely updates and build local buy-in and ownership of the datasets, the Tracker will also allow users to submit their own data and layers for review and inclusion if they pass verification by the Tracker’s development team. Users can explore linkages between power plants, transportation routes, and the development of industrial zones. The Project Impact Screener can also generate reports on the infrastructure datasets and the other GIS layers within zones of interest.

In addition to the data and analytical tools, the Mekong Infrastructure Tracker also houses reference materials for promoting best policy and planning practices such as strategic environment assessment, environmental and social impact assessments, environmental monitoring and compliance, and economic instruments. Country profiles on each of the five Lower Mekong countries provides context on national infrastructure needs, policy priorities and targets, and projected investment as well as snapshot profiles of key projects.

The Tracker was officially launched on May 27, 2020 and is accessible to all interested users. All data referenced in this report is accessible through that portal, unless otherwise noted.

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