After Xayaburi and Don Sahong: Time for a New Narrative on Mekong Hydropower

Laos’ controversial decision to move forward with the Xayaburi and Don Sahong dams on the mainstream of the Lower Mekong has become the focal point of discussion between various stakeholders due to concerns over the impacts on fisheries and sediment. The region’s low level of development and high level of dependency on the river and its resources mean that the need to ensure development of the river is sustainable is not only a question of local livelihoods but ultimately of food security and regional stability. In December, the Stimson Center’s research team traveled to Thailand and Laos to meet with local civil society members, conduct site visits of both dams, and engage with developers and officials about the mitigation efforts that are being made on the Xayaburi and Don Sahong.

The December site visits preceded meetings under the Lower Mekong Initiative in Thailand and Laos. A major point that emerged from these trips is that the narrative surrounding the development of the Mekong is becoming one of inevitability. The Stimson Center will discuss the current situation, the possible game-changers that are starting to emerge, and offer a new narrative for the discussion as the region moves forward taking into account the reality of the Xayaburi and Don Sahong projects and their impacts on the river’s future.

What: An engaging discussion about the current status of mitigation efforts and negotiations for dams on the Lower Mekong and the need for a new narrative framing discussion of development in the Lower Mekong region.


Richard Cronin, Director of the Southeast Asia Program, The Stimson Center
Courtney Weatherby, Research Associate, the Stimson Center

Follow: Stimson’s Southeast Asia program, Richard Cronin, Courtney Weatherby, and Stimson on Twitter and use #StimsonToday to join the conversation.

Part of the Mekong Policy Project
Southeast Asia
Choose Your Subscription Topics
* indicates required
I'm interested in...
38 North: News and Analysis on North Korea
South Asian Voices