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December 3, 2019

Deteriorating Mekong ecosystem alarms activists - Bangkok Post
Water in the Mekong river has turned from yellowish-brown to greenish-blue -- the river look beautiful but could be a sign of danger. Repeat satellite imagery illustrates the scale of this phenomenon -- caused by sediment trapped behind upstream dams and lower rainfall. (See also: Mekong River waters turn aquamarine in Nakhon Phanom province - Thai PBS)
Did Vietnam just doom the Mekong? - The Diplomat
In joining the Lao effort to build the Luang Prabang hydropower project, Hanoi reverses policy, putting Vietnam's credibility and the Mekong's fate on the line.
Thai villagers join the global economy. Go to Ikea to find out - NYT/Today Online
Members of hill tribes have been able to parlay their traditional skills and crafts into jobs that have put them on the path to Thai citizenship.


Mekong nations promise cooperation but skip disputes over damming the river - Forbes
Yes, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in declared “the development of Mekong is that of Korea.” No, neither he nor leaders of the five Mekong nations, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Myanmar, said a word about the issues that threaten the mighty river and the millions who depend on it for survival. (See also: Leaders of S. Korea, Mekong nations adopt joint declaration on co-prosperity - KBS)

Exhibition highlighting biological resources of Mekong region opens - Korea Herald
Summit promotes Mekong-Korea Biodiversity Center to be established in Myanmar to promote the various uses of the region's biological resources, such as in skin care and cosmetic products.

Southeast Asia's trans-regional corridor takes shape - Nikkei Asian Review
The opening of a new bridge between Thailand and Myanmar has pushed Southeast Asia one step closer to the realization of an East-West Economic Corridor through the Greater Mekong Subregion, connecting the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean. 

Mekong 'cash machine' needs an overhaul (opinion) - Bangkok Post
So far Thailand has refused to acknowledge its responsibility for causing massive ecological damage to the Mekong ecosystem and deal with the serious consequences suffered by people downstream.

Living Planet: Mekong communities face uncertain future - DW
Plans to build a series of new hydroelectric plants on the Mekong have alarmed communities who depend on the river for their livelihoods. Scientists warn the dams could disrupt fish migration to breeding grounds and cause irrevocable damage to the river's complex ecosystem. DW talks to Maureen Harris of International Rivers about how locals are being impacted.

MRC ministerial council approves a drought management strategy - MRC
Ministerial delegates from the Mekong River Commission Council at their annual gathering in Phnom Penh last week approved a drought management strategy for 2020-2025, allowing Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam to prepare for and manage drought collectively. (See also: MRC Council reaches conclusions on key policy matters - LNA)

Mekong countries agree to strengthen tourism cooperation - Khmer Times
The plan tackles infrastructure development, investment, collaboration on marketing and the development of the sector’s human capital.


China, Cambodia join hands to develop model village for poverty alleviation in Cambodia - Thyme Thyme
The project will mainly focus on designing and improving village roads; providing family clean water; providing health care support; developing agricultural sector including husbandry, reviving traditional handicrafts and improving public environment; as well as vocational training,

Cambodia struggles to keep the lights on - Asia Times
Prime Minister Hun Sen warns of new rolling power outages that threaten to short-circuit the economy. In November he said that water levels at the country’s hydropower dams were running exceptionally low, driving down power plant production to about one-tenth of their normal output. (See also: Cambodia plans to spend over US$100mil on subsidies by 2021 - Straits Times)

Forestry communities tapped to produce sustainable charcoal - VOD
Some of the country’s more than 600 “forestry communities” — groups with a claim to communal forests, which they help protect and manage — will be tapped to produce sustainable charcoal and fuelwood under a test project.

Villagers seek land dispute resolution from Interior Ministry - VOA
More than 300 people from Koh Kong province protested in Phnom Penh over more-than-decade long land disputes with companies that demonstrators say pushed them off their plots.

Ministry says economic growth has benefitted people equitably - Khmer Times
The Gini index in Cambodia was 0.29 in 2017, down from 0.34 in 2009, according to Phan Phalla, under-secretary of state at the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

‘Pesticide-laden cucumbers’ kill two, poison hundreds in Banteay Meanchey - Phnom Penh Post
At least two youths have died and 243 others are being treated for vomiting, diarrhoea, breathing difficulties, dizziness and muscle weakness after they ate cucumbers suspected to consist of pesticides.


Lao villagers facing eviction from Luang Prabang Dam are leery of government promises - VOA
"We don't really trust them because we heard about the dams they built before, that people were supposed to get support but they didn't get it," said a Houaygno rice farmer. "I heard about someone at the Xayaburi dam, that they were supposed to get help but didn't." 

Development partners remind Laos of the regional effects of its hydropower projects - Thmey Thmey
Countries and international organizations last week appealed to Laos to work with countries along the Mekong River and with development partners to prevent any difficulty in countries along its course as a result of Laos’ Luang Prabang Hydropower Project. 

Agro-biodiversity initiative helps northern fish conservation - ANN/Vientiane Times
The Agro-Biodiversity Initiative (TABI) is continuing to encourage rural people in three northern provinces to expand their fish preservation efforts at designated conservation reservoirs.

Elderly Lao man held in land dispute released on bail - RFA
A 69-year-old Lao man who was detained two months ago for refusing to give up land that had been in his family since 1965

Nam Theun 2, IRD sign scientific and technical cooperation agreement - KPL
The Nam Theun 2 Power Company, operator of the Nam Theun 2 hydropower project, and the French Research Institute for Development (IRD) have signed an agreement for scientific and technical cooperation to promote scientific monitoring of aquatic ecosystems within the Nam Theun 2 basin.

Thai-based  B.Grimm Power officially opens 16.8 MW Nam Che 1 hydropower plant in Laos - ANN/Vientiane Times


Myanmar watchdog criticizes ‘so-called’ public consultation process for China's BRI project - Irrawaddy
The group has already collected a lot of data regarding a proposed railway. Recently, the EIA consultant undertook a "so-called" public consultations in some major cities, but the group observed that the techniques used were not systematic and neglected the most important tasks of a standard EIA.

New Yangon City: A controversial blueprint - China Dialogue
Myanmar pins hopes on brand new city to entice foreign investment and jobs, but must respond to concerns about transparency and sea-level rise

Groups object to US$250m World Bank project - Myanmar Times
No one wants economic development more than those in conflict zones, but residents say it must be the right kind of development at the right time. 

ADB approves US$195 million financing package for development - Mizzima
The project will identify, develop, and fund at least 15,000 resilient livelihood subprojects, which include new or improved climate-smart agriculture, livestock, fisheries, value additions to farm and nonfarm products, marketing, and the acquisition for new skills and employment. 

Protecting livelihoods and nature on Inle Lake - Medium
Enlisted as a Ramsar site and a UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Reserve, Inle Lake is the second largest in Myanmar. It has long hosted a rich diversity of bird and fish species. However that is under threat by deforestation, pollution, unsustainable agriculture and tourism.

Myanmar rights commission to probe fishery slave claims - Irrawaddy
The fishery department said Pyapon Township had more than 1,200 registered fishing rafts but many unregistered rafts were also operating at sea. During the 2018-19 fishing season, there were more than 200 deaths reported on Pyapon’s rafts. The rafts are mostly bamboo structures that accommodate at most five people and remain on the open sea for around eight months.


Alarm over drastic drop in dam levels - Bangkok Post
The low level of useable water in the country's four major dams have raised concerns over the likelihood of serious, widespread droughts during the dry season next year.

New committee postpones Thai toxic chemicals ban - Bangkok Post
The new National Committee on Hazardous Substances decided last week to lift the scheduled ban on the herbicide glyphosate and delay the ban on the herbicide paraquat and pesticide chlorpyrifos for six months. (See also: Uproar at ban delay - Bangkok Post; Chemicals ban derailed by '4 forces' - Bangkok Post; Chaos as senior officials deny easing the chemicals ban announced by the Industry minister the day before - Thai Examiner)

Illicit trade of otters via social networking on the rise - Mainichi
In Thailand, one of the supply nations of the otters, unauthorized trading and possession of the fish-eating mammals is banned, but demand for them as pets remains strong.


Sand mining in the Mekong Delta revisited - current scales of local sediment deficits - Nature
Uncontrolled sand is placing the delta’s future stability into question. The manifold consequences of combined threats to the delta, which include bank erosion, recessing coastlines, increasing salinity intrusion, and a loss of mangrove forests, will likely only accelerate if current sand mining practices are maintained.

Women are hit harder by climate change. Here, they are starting to fight back - Mosaic
Planting mangrove trees on the shores of Vietnam is helping protect against global warming – and also sowing the seeds of female empowerment.

Vietnam’s agricultural sector at a crossroads - East Asia Forum
The first problems persistently faced by Vietnam’s agricultural sector is its institutional failures in regulating production, environment regulations, and agricultural input and output markets.

Consultation workshop on Mekong Delta agricultural transformation - Vietnam+
In the face of climate change challenges, Vietnam wants to learn from the Netherlands’ experience in the sustainable development of the Mekong Delta, including planning, governance, development strategy building, and especially building a key value chain for the region. (See also: Vietnam - Joint efforts to develop the Mekong Delta Agricultural Transformation Program - The Netherlands and You)

HCM City, Mekong Delta seek to improve waterway route for goods transport - Vietnam+
The waterway links between Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta region through river and canal networks, which are proved to be more advantageous to trade than their road counterparts, have not been fully utilized.

Vietnam makes a mess of waste management - Vietnam Express
Vietnam is sorting trash in four different ways and one type of trash is put under the eyes of up to six ministries.


South Korea funding coal plants overseas that would be banned at home - Mongabay
Greenpeace evaluated 10 coal plants financed by South Korea in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam. It found that the lax emissions standards in the host countries for dangerous air pollutants allowed these plants to emit up to 18.6 times more nitrogen oxides (NOx), 11.5 times more sulfur dioxide (SO2) and 33 times more dust pollution than plants in South Korea.

Unsustainable natural rubber poses major threat to wildlife and people - Eco-Business
Six countries providing 95 per cent of the global production, including Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, India and China - covering almost 12 million hectares.

Can Southeast Asia keep up with growing energy demand? - European Sting
IEA research shows just how heavily dependent the region is on oil to meet its energy needs. With demand expected to reach 9 million barrels a day by 2040, Southeast Asia is close to becoming a net importer of fossil fuels.

Lawless ocean: The link between human rights abuses and overfishing - Yale 360
In the case of Thailand, where this abuse is common, men or boys from surrounding countries such as Laos, Cambodia, or Myanmar are often offered a job in construction or some other lucrative industry by a human trafficker.

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