WWF Commends Royal Government on Suspension of Hydropower Dam on Mekong Mainstream

AKP Phnom Penh, March 19, 2020 —

WWF released here yesterday a statement on the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC)’s decision to suspend hydropower dam development on the Mekong River mainstream.

According to WWF’s press statement, H.E. Victor Jona, Director General of Energy at Cambodia’s Ministry of Mines and Energy through a phone call yesterday confirmed with WWF that Cambodia’s newly approved 10 years energy master plan 2020-2030 doesn’t include any hydropower dams on the Mekong mainstream.

Mr. Teak Seng, WWF-Cambodia Country Director welcomed and appreciated this decision.

“Maintaining the lower Mekong in Cambodia free-flowing is the best decision for both people and nature, and WWF commends the Cambodian government for ruling out the hydropower dam development and instead pursuing other energy sources such as solar to meet the Kingdom’s power demand. WWF stands ready to work with the government to support development of a system-wide sustainable energy plan that promotes clean and renewable energy alternatives, contributing to the country’s energy goals without damming Cambodia’s remaining free-flowing rivers,” he underlined.

At the same time, Mr. Marc Goichot, WWF Freshwater Lead, Asia Pacific said that the 10 year moratorium on mainstream dams on the Mekong River announced by the RGC is the best possible news for the sustainable future of the tens of millions of people living alongside it and for the amazing biodiversity that depends on it, especially the world’s largest population of Irrawaddy river dolphins.

The science clearly shows that those dams would significantly reduce wild fisheries and block sediment flows, speeding up the sinking and shrinking of the delta and threatening the future of Vietnam’s major rice basket, countless fishing communities and long-term economic sustainability, he continued, stressing that Cambodia’s correct decision is an example for other countries, recognizing free-flowing rivers provide invaluable benefits for people and countless wild species that depend on.

The Greater Mekong has no fewer than 20,000 species of plants, 1,200 bird species, 800 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 430 mammal species. Over 1300 new species have been catalogued since 1997.

According to Biodiversity and Fisheries in the Mekong River Basin’s report, within the Mekong River system there are flourishing fisheries that exploit a large number of species. Estimates indicate that approximately 120 fish species are commercially traded, although the bulk of the fishery is based on 10-20 species.

By Khan Sophirom