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More than 350 dams are in the pipeline for power sector development in Laos and Cambodia's portions of the Mekong Basin, and neighboring Vietnam is planning a massive expansion of thermal coal plants into its power mix through 2050. How these dams are built out over time could undo the underpinnings of food security and economic stability in downstream countries like Cambodia and Vietnam. Overinvestment in coal in will lead to unnecessary levels of air pollution and a significant increase of disease and health effects in Vietnam. By supporting the renewable energy transition and the development of climate-friendly energy systems that optimize tradeoffs between energy generation, food security, and water use, a development pathway that protects the core ecology of the river system, reduces carbon emissions, helps countries implement NDCs, and meet U.N. Sustainable Development Goals is in reach.
Mekong Basin Connect conducts capacity building programs to promote and teach to technical line agencies in Mekong countries how system scale water and energy planning techniques can reduce future buildout of hydropower and coal. Through workshops with various levels of stakeholders, publications, and media engagement, Mekong Basin Connect demonstrates how deeper incorporation of solar, wind, and biomass into a country's energy mix can lead to optimized environmental and social outcomes and preserve critical ecological systems. Our discourse and activities also promote appropriate levels of cross-border power trade which will stimulate deeper incorporation of non-hydropower renewable energy in well-endowed zones and shift business as usual trajectories away from hydropower and coal development.