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NEWS DIGEST #226

June 11, 2019

Thailand 'prostituting its resources' says top nature photographer - Khaosod English
The sound of tens of thousands of fish slapping the water as they’re pulled up by huge nets can be deafening. They routinely ensnare animals and fish too young to be caught, killing off the future generation for "trash for 7 baht a kilo".

Myanmar announces National Environmental Policy and the Myanmar Climate Change Policy -  UN Environment
Myanmar is widely considered one of the world's most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change. Its renowned biodiversity and natural resources are also under increasing pressure as the country develops. The new policies explicitly recognize the increasing threat of extreme weather and other climate change impacts to its economic and social development.
Organizations concerned over rivers’ water quality - Khmer Times
Two international organisations have expressed concerns over water quality in the Sesan, Srepok and Sekong rivers which threatens the livelihood of about 3.4 million people in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, saying that the continued health of this vital system requires improved governance, and in particular, improved access to information both between agencies and between the countries.
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MEKONG DEVELOPMENT

Crocodiles are not geckos: The realities run-of-river hydropower - Forbes
The term ‘run-of-river’ on its own provides little useful information about a given dam’s impacts. Nothing perhaps illustrates the often-deceptive imprecision of the term “run-of-river hydropower” than the proposed Sambor Dam on the Mekong River in Cambodia.

Renewed partnership with Murray-Darling Basin Authority will prepare Mekong for current and future challenges - MRC
Mekong basin-wide planning, environmental monitoring, flood and drought management, climate change adaptation, and stakeholder engagement are some of the key areas to benefit from the renewed partnership.

CAMBODIA

Field notes from “Cambodia’s beating heart” - The Nature Conversancy
Nicknamed Cambodia’s “beating heart,” the vast Tonle Sap Lake is Southeast Asia’s largest. Now, the country is trying to stop the loss of its lifeblood: the fish that thrive in these waters.

Cambodia underinvesting in agriculture research, ADB says - Khmer Times
A new report finds that the use of outdated equipment and facilities is compromising the volume and quality of research outputs in agriculture. (See also: World Bank giving US$60 million to help poor farmers - Khmer Times; Hun Sen urges rice farmers to quit chemicals - Khmer Times)

The grandads fighting back against deforestation - Euronews
Locals claim the government has been too slow to act. And one group has taken protecting the forest into their own hands.

Preserving water in his homeland - SWP Water
Elders within his small village along the Mekong River in Cambodia have said, “Where we have forest, there we have water.” One man listened.

Cambodia’s schools are the new frontline in the battle against climate change - WE Forum
With support from the European Union, Sweden and the United Nations Development Programme, climate change will be a part of a new and expanded earth science curriculum for higher secondary schools. (See also: Cambodia tackling climatic changes by engaging students - Academia)

Elephant rides to stop at Cambodia’s biggest attraction - Metro
The overworked group of 14 elephants will no longer be forced to work at Angkor Wat, where over 2.5 million international tourists visit each year.

LAOS

China-Laos railway marred by compensation issues and pollution - ASEAN Today
Out of 4,411 families negatively affected by the project, only about 230 of them have been compensated. For many families, the compensation amount hasn’t been set but their land has already been given away.

Lao, Vietnamese PMs push for mega infrastructure projects - Vientiane Times
In particular, both sides are pushing for the implementation of mega infrastructure projects including the Vung Ang seaport and the Vientiane-Hanoi expressway.

Climate change and education help from Singapore - Straits Times
Effective over three years, the agreement will see Singapore provide assistance to Laos in areas such as water supply and demand management, water quality management, climate change adaptation and mitigation, meteorology and hydrology management and operation, pollution control, and environment planning and monitoring.

Laos ups electricity trade - Phnom Penh Post
Laos plans to increase exports to Vietnam to 3,000MW by 2025 and to more than 5,000MW by 2030. Laos has also agreed to sell 9,000MW to Thailand by 2025, up from 4,260MW presently. 

UN Volunteer helps prepare communities in Lao PDR for climate-related disasters - UNV
The partnership has contributed to the placement of many specialized professionals and young people from diverse backgrounds to support communities to become stronger in face of aggressive changes in the weather and the environment. 

MYANMAR

Development could hurt Ayeyarwady River - Myanmar times
“Damage has been done to some extent to the river’s ecosystem by urban development and economic expansion. We need to protect the river immediately,” said U Myo Thit, minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation in Mandalay Region.

Yangon to focus on construction of deep sea port, new SEZ - Myanmar Times
Some 50,000 acres of land area near Thanlyin, Yangon, has been earmarked for the development of both the port and SEZ, as the area does not have an international standard deep sea port yet 90 percent of national sea trade relies on Yangon’s ports.

Bishops slam Chinese dam: Peace, development and sustainability in danger - AsiaNews
Stop the construction of the Myitstone dam to ensure peace in the region, sustainable livelihoods for millions of farmers and a future based on prosperity said the Bishops' Conference of Myanmar last week, adding that the government and China should review the massive project at the confluence of the Mali and N'Mai rivers.  

Sowing the seeds of growth in Myanmar - Myanmar Times
The country’s agricultural productivity is low. For example, to harvest rice, one day of work generates only 23 kg of paddy in Myanmar, compared to 62 kg in Cambodia, 429 kg in Vietnam, and 547 kg in Thailand.

World Bank warns of Myanmar’s urbanisation challenges - The Nation
More people are moving to Yangon and other key destinations for better opportunities, but in a new report, the World Bank has warned of the challenges related to this increased urbanisation.

THAILAND

Why violence persists in our forests (opinion) - Bangkok Post
Millions of people in about 2,700 Thai forest communities are facing eviction. More than 7,000 villagers are sent to jail each year, whose only crime is defending their ancestral lands. Notably, violent forest evictions have dramatically increased after the 2014 coup under the junta's "forest reclaiming" policy. (See also: Thai villagers face greater threat under new national parks law - Reuters)

Rayong residents worry EEC will come with empty promises - The Nation
Their concerns are based on the lesson they learned from the Eastern Seaboard Development programme more than 30 years ago. (See also: Fire at Laem Chabang raises questions about the EEC - Thai PBS)

New factories 'dodging green rules' - Bangkok Post
Construction of new factories kick off before their environmental impact reports have been finished which in many cases has caused environmental problems for locals.

Grab Tuk Tuk Electric launches in Chiang Mai, a Southeast Asia first - The Nation
Based on statistics from the Energy Conservation Laboratory (EnConLab), one electric Tuk Tuk is estimated to reduce the emission of greenhouse gas by up to 4.18 tonnes per year. (See also: Carmakers ready to help Thailand become hub for electric vehicles in Asean - The Nation; Bloomberg downbeat on Asean EVs - Bangkok Post)

Thailand: Paradise Lost? Part 1 - Thaiger
Unless something is done, urgently, then Thailand, along with the southern tourist money-spinner, Phuket, will continue to lose tourists, especially when so many other countries are now going out of their way to welcome them.

Renewables players dig in on price - The Nation
The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) is digging in on its position that the current wholesale price for electricity is too low for small operators in renewable energy. 

More Northeast transport links to Laos in the works - Bangkok Post
Projects include a major motorway, another bridge across the Mekong and a rail line to establish links between Thailand and Laos. (See also: Thai cabinet gives green light for construction of 5th Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge - Xinhua)

VIETNAM

Vietnamese environmental activist gets 6 years for Facebook posts - RFA
A detained Vietnamese shrimp farmer and environmental activist was sentenced to six years in prison and five years’ probation Wednesday for writing politically charged posts on Facebook.

Vietnam’s growth under new threat - ASEAN Post
Vietnam’s rapid increase in water demand will lead to water quantity and water quality stress in 11 out of 16 river basins in the country by 2030 during the dry season.

Riverside erosion sinks eight Mekong Delta houses - Vietnam Express
The changes in the river flow were to blame for the erosion that has been happening for a long time now. Another 100 houses are at risk of collapsing or being washed away.

Banks may assess pollution risks before granting loans - Vietnam+
Under the regulation, which was drafted by the SBV and the International Finance Company (IFC), the industries include thermal power, paper and pulp, fabric dyeing, seafood processing and battery makers.

RoK firm-funded campaign helps clean Mekong River - Vietnam+
A campaign was launched in the Mekong Delta province of Vinh Long to collect waste and clean the Mekong River using solar-powered vessels funded by Hanwha Group of the Republic of Korea. 
The Mekong Eye's weekly News Digest curates news, commentary and resources on development, its environmental and social impacts, and the context affecting the Mekong region. We reach nearly 6000 key development professionals, government officials, business leaders and journalists. Submit stories, press releases, resources or feedback to: editor@mekongeye.com
 
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