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More than one year after the closure of the Resettlement Implementation Program, the status of the International Environmental and Social Panel of Experts (the POE) for NT2 remains unclear. According to the World Bank-brokered Concession Agreement, the POE was to continue to monitor the project through the life of the 25-year Concession Agreement. However, the POE has been inactive since its last visit in mid-2018 at which time it issued its Report #28. One panel member, David McDowell, subsequently resigned and has not been replaced. Following RIP closure the cost of the POE reverted to the Government of Laos and observers see no signs of it being reconstituted. It is unclear whether the World Bank has expressed any concern or made any formal requests to the Government of Laos in regards to maintaining the POE as it committed to do as part of the Concession Agreement.
University of Wisconsin Press has announced that a softcover version of Dead in the Water will be published in November of this year. The list price of $22.95 is much cheaper than the hard cover version which has been available to date. Advance orders are being accepted — see our Ordering page.
The Asian Development Bank has issued a final completion report on Nam Theun 2. The report is mostly positive and appears to ignore or discount many of the findings of Dead in the Water. It does include some potentially positive developments with the project since the time the research for Dead in the Water was completed. Still, it relies on optimistic projections for the future, rather than a solid track record of accomplishment to date.
Radio Free Asia reported on the current situation of people resettled from the Nam Theun 2 reservoir in an article titled "Lao Villagers Displaced by Nam Theun 2 Dam Say They Still Need Help".
A blog by Stephanie on the Panda Paw Dragon Paw website, which examines Chinese overseas investments, including in hydropower, talks about Nam Theun 2 and references Dead in the Water.
A groundbreaking report was issued today by Phil Alston, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, following the visit of his delegation to Laos. The report, which has received considerable press attention, has a section on hydropower which cites Dead in the Water and a related paper in stating that, "The World Bank, which has long supported the development of hydropower in Lao PDR, continues to advise the Government on hydropower, despite the criticism of their model dam, Nam Theun 2".
As debates intensifies over whether hydropower qualifies as "sustainable" energy, increasing attention is being given to greenhouse gas emissions from hydropower dams. Unfortunately, this was not an issue we were able to cover in Dead in the Water. However, this 2013 article from Asia Times specifically addresses GHG emissions from the Nam Theun 2 reservoir and is worth a read.
Southeast Asia Globe today published this article and interview by Mark Tilly about Dead in the Water.
We now have 4000-word briefing papers summarizing Dead in the Water and its findings available in Burmese, Khmer, Thai, and Vietnamese. These briefing papers have recently been released to civil society groups in the region. Copies of these briefing papers can be downloaded from our Briefings page.
In the wake of the book launch activities for Dead in the Water in Thailand, a number of articles have been published, in both the English and Thai language press. These include:
A Voice of America article written by David Boyle
An article in the online journal DEVEX by Kelli Rogers
Asia Times article on Xe Pian Xe Nam Noy and NT2
Khao Sod (Thai language)
The French aid agency AFD, which has long supported Nam Theun 2 and has now initiated a new project of assistance to NT2 resettlers, published this article titled "Nam Theun 2: An Exemplary Hydropower Project" on its website. The article is in French but you can put it into Google translate to read in English.
The World Bank today issued a press release following the release of the International Environmental and Social Panel of Experts Report #28 on Nam Theun 2. The update notes that, following the Panel's recommendation, the Resettlement Implementation Program was officially closed in July, 2018.
An article on the Voice of America website, "Laos Bullish on Dams Despite Fatal Catastrophe", mentions Dead in the Water and the concerns over the issue of international donor support for hydropower in Laos.
The online academic website New Mandala today published a commentary piece by Dead in the Water co-editor Bruce Shoemaker which links the promotion of hydropower in Laos by the World Bank and other international donors to the Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy dam collapse catastrophe.
An article in the New York Times today about the tragic Xe Pian-Xe Nam Noi dam collapse referenced Dead in the Water. An online newsite, The Daily Kos, also covered the issue later the same day.
The long delayed 27th Report of the NT2 International Social and Environmental Panel of Experts (the PoE) was release today. It confirmed that the POE refused to sign off on a closure of the Resettlement Implementation Period at the end of 2017 due to outstanding concerns. The report indicates the POE hopes to be able to sign off on program closure in mid-2018 if it can confirm that these issues have been addressed in a subsequent visit. It is unclear why the World Bank closed the NTSEP at the end of 2017 when the closely linked Resettlement Implementation Period is continuing until at least mid-2018.
Today the University of Wisconsin Press formally published Dead in the Water. The publication was accompanied by a blog post on the UWP website.
International Rivers and Mekong Watch today released a statement on the closure of the World Bank's Nam Theun 2 Social and Environmental Project noting ongoing failures to address its sustainability objectives.
The field report upon which the Mekong Watch/International Rivers statement was based is available for downloading.
According to a press release on the World Bank website posted in April but dated January 30, the Bank closed its Nam Theun 2 Social and Environmental Project at the end of 2017 "as scheduled".