In partnership with Deltares and Lao Consulting Group, Multiconsult is leading an assessment of Lao PDR’s southern Sekong River Basin together with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group. This project will help decision-makers and the private sector to better understand the cumulative impacts of developing renewable energy projects in areas where multiple projects are planned.
Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA)
Team Lead Leif Lillehammer of Multiconsult says:
“The Sekong is one of the most important tributaries to the Mekong, and with the Sesan and Srepok it forms what is commonly known as the 3S system in the Lower Mekong. Our work will pioneer cumulative impact assessments in Lao PDR; Multiconsult is looking forward to presenting a study that achieves a balance between development and environmental sustainability.”
Multiconsult and its partners will examine various hydropower and renewable energy scenarios for the Sekong basin and assess their overall cumulative impacts on the environment, livelihoods and the economy. The study will also provide recommendations for future sustainable development of hydropower and renewable energy on the Sekong, including plans and measures to avoid, minimize and compensate for the cumulative impacts.
Lower environmental and social risks
Kate Lazarus, IFC Hydropower Environmental and Social Advisory Team Lead, says:
“IFC is rolling out cumulative impact assessments across the Asia region and in Lao PDR we have a unique opportunity to build greater understanding of CIA concepts and help improve planning in the Sekong River Basin. The Sekong is home to important aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity that will be affected by development. Once completed, the CIA will present power scenarios that will help lower environmental and social risks associated with planned development.”
The assessment is due to take place over the next ten months and will provide on-the-ground input for improving the Lao PDR draft Cumulative Impact Assessment Guidelines, another initiative led by IFC. Since 2013, the IFC has been working with the government of Lao PDR and the private sector to help advance environmental and social sustainability. With support from the Australian Government, the IFC has led the development of several guidelines and policies for the hydropower sector. However, the CIA for the Sekong will include other renewable energies, such as wind and solar, as there is the potential to develop other clean and sustainable resources in this basin.
Leif Lillehammer adds:
“This pilot project with the IFC is helping us to become a world leader with regards to putting principles for sustainable water resource management and hydropower planning into practice, which is both a source of pride and a humbling experience at the same time.”