Questions are being raised about the complicity of Thailand’s state-run power utility – EGAT under the Ministry of Energy – in serious human rights violations in the building of the massive US$10 billion Mong Ton (formerly called the Tasang) dam in the Upper Salween River in Myanmar.
At the first-ever International Conference on Salween-Thanlwin-Nu Studies, highlights include calls for an end to extractive development, progress towards cooperative river basin management, recognition of local knowledge, and participation of local people from within the river basin, including youth.
The herding communities in the Tibetan Plateau face many struggles to protect their grasslands and herding livestock that together form an integral part of their culture, identity and livelihoods. Mkha Be recollects her childhood experiences in rural Tibet and explains the changes and challenges facing the herding communities.
Laofang Bundidterdsakul is a Hmong indigenous human rights lawyer. He initiated the Salween Youth Research Project to restore people’s power along the Salween River who are seeking to protect the Salween River from a proposal for a hydropower cascade and take back decision-making about the use of the river.
Khmu youths and villagers living along the Ou River in Luang Prabang Province, Northern Lao PDR have adopted a food forest concept in reforesting the river’s banks that in recent years have been impacted by land erosion. The initiative aims to maintain fragile areas that are important sources of food and thus sustain community food security.
While opening up to greater democracy, Myanmar is entering a period of neoliberal market reforms and privatization of its natural resources. Newly drafted “land concession” legislation favor agribusiness, and land grabs result from continued government reliance on top-down authoritarian approaches to development.
In the Mekong Region, after decades of governments, donors, corporations, experts and others pursuing development, winners and losers have emerged. In this first “Commons Comment” editorial, we discuss the changing lives in the Mekong Region, new development trends, impacts on the commons, and why Mekong Commons was initiated.