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New forum to tackle Mekong challenges

Caitlin Ashworth

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For nearly 20 years, activists have called against the development of hydro-dams and water projects along the Mekong River. But now, the campaign is taking the next step with plans to focus on taking action at the policy level.

It took 2 decades, but activists have now launched the “Mekong People’s Forum.” 200 people attended the forum including local villagers, conservationists, journalists, and representatives from the US and Australian embassies. The Chinese embassy, although invited, did not send anyone to attend the event. China is responsible for 11 dams on the river.

This is the first time the many conservation groups and activists have come together with a single forum to tackle the many challenges for the river. Several dams have now been built upstream in Laos and China causing massive problems for the natural flow of the river downstream through Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Protests began around 20 years ago when the Chinese government started blasting rapids in the upper Mekong River from Yunnan to Myanmar and Laos to make way for commercial boats.

As China built more dams along the river, civil groups in 8 Thailand provinces along the river campaigned against the projects. Campaigns in local communities ended up going different directions, according to Niwat Roikaew who helped found the forum.

“The Mekong People’s Forum will hopefully make campaigns move in an united direction and also leverage bargaining power with the authorities.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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