Updates and news on Nam Theun 2

Photo of Nam Theun 2 reservoir by NJ Enfield
Photo of Nam Theun 2 reservoir by NJ Enfield

If you have news items to submit, please send them to editor@deadinthewaterbook.org.

March 15, 2022

In response to a distorted and misleading article, which recycled long discredited myths about Nam Theun 2's purported benefits for Indigenous Peoples, (written by Eduard Wojczynski of the International Hydropower Association, a pro-hydro industry group), DITW co-editor Bruce Shoemaker and contributing author Ian G Baird published this article.

May 3, 2021

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has released a new review of the social safeguards policies of the Asian Development Bank. The review included two case studies, one of which is Nam Theun 2. The case study considered the human rights, social, environmental, and economic impacts of the project. In several important ways, the report confirms the findings of Dead in the Water especially regarding how project proponents failed to adequately take into consideration the human rights context in Laos when the project was planned and developed. Among some of the reports quotes:

"The extent to which ADB factored human rights risk information into its own due diligence is not clear from publicly available documentation".

"Moreover, the effectiveness of consultation is potentially limited by the obstacles to freedom of expression in Laos, including non-governmental organisations and social media".

"In sum, whether or not NT2 has had a significant, positive impact on poverty reduction in Laos remains unknown, although there is considerable anecdotal evidence that it has been much less successful than anticipated... NT2 is contributing only a small fraction of what was initially projected..."

The report can be accessed here.

November 28, 2019

The online journal Yale Global Online, published by Yale University, today published this article by Tom Fawthrop, "Dams and Climate Change Kill the Mekong". The article mentions Dead in the Water and quotes the book's co-editor.

November 14, 2019

University of Wisconsin Press has now released Dead in the Water in an inexpensive paperback edition. See our Ordering page for further information.

November 7, 2019

Today Dr. Thayer Scudder, the well-known anthropologist and longtime member of the Nam Theun 2 Environmental and Social Panel of Experts, who resigned from the Panel in 2014, published this reflective piece in the International Journal of Water Resources Development.

October, 2019

According to Wildcat, a database that lists library holdings around the world, the hardcover version of Dead in the Water is now held by 638 university or academic libraries worldwide.

October 15, 2019

Today five civil society advocacy organizations the Center for International Environmental Law, Bank Information Center, International Rivers, Inclusive Development International, and Green Alternative released this joint statement withdrawing from their proposed session at the Civil Society Policy Forum as part of the World Bank Annual General Meetings in Washington DC. The withdrawal stems from the refusal to participate or engage in the session, despite the Bank's own CSPF staff writing to the proposers, in accepting the session, that it would be "timely and interesting". The findings of Dead in the Water were to be a key component of the organizers session, which was titled, "Sustainable Hydropower Does It Exist?".

October 12, 2019

The New York Times today published an in-depth article on hydropower in Laos, which focuses on the impacts to people at the village level from mainly Chinese financed dams in Laos. The article references Dead in the Water, although not by name.

September, 2019

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.

August, 2019

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.

July, 2019

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.

April 11, 2019

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".

April 5, 2019

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.

March 28, 2019

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".

January, 2019

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.

November 8, 2018

Southeast Asia Globe today published this article and interview by Mark Tilly about Dead in the Water.

October 31, 2018

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.

October 20 - 25, 2018

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)

October 10, 2018

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.

September 28, 2018

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.

August 18, 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.

August 3, 2018

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.

July 26, 2018

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.

June 28, 2018

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.

June 26, 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.

June 19, 2018 International Rivers/Mekong Watch release NT2 statement and field report

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.

April 17, 2018 World Bank closes Nam Theun 2 Project

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".

This is following a two-year delay. The project was originally scheduled to close at the end of 2015 but the project's independent Panel of Experts refused to sign off on closure due to numerous concerns about ongoing problems with the social and environmental aspects of the project. At the time of this announcement, the Panel of Experts Report #27 (based on a field visit in November, 2017) upon which the decision to close the project was supposed to be informed, had still not been released to the public.