Mr. Mak Bunthoeurn, River Coalition of Cambodia Coordinator facilitated the session of recap day 1. Photo: Soknak Por/Oxfam

"Mekong Water- Energy Infrastructure Development"

It was an impressive learning workshop engaging more than 80 youths from the Mekong, Tonle Sap and 3S rivers (Sekong, Sesan and Srepok). The workshop aimed at equipping participants’ in dept knowledge around the Mekong water governance issues concerning impacts of water and energy infrastructure development on social and environmental aspects, alternative options and how youths could engage in the Mekong water governance decision making process.

The workshop brought the participants to realize the fact happening in the Mekong through sharing and reflection on Mekong River Commission’s council study. The study has shown that 11 large-scale hydropower dams in the Mekong mainstream and 120 tributary dams are posting massive impacts on aquatic resources, ecosystem, food security and economy in the regions.

Learning from the Mekong and what happening in the Mekong is not enough, the participants were equipped with communication skill where they enjoyed the session how to develop the ‘inspiring message’ and how to take ‘attractive photo’ for advocacy and influencing, and discussed their roles for engagement.

They impressed by different views of key speakers and presenters around social and environmental impacts of hydropower dam construction, proposed alternative solutions for electricity generation by looking at power development plan 2017/2020 – 2030 of the government and available resources to prioritize renewable energy for replacement of large hydropower dam construction in the Mekong.

Participants discussed what could they do to engage in water governance decision making. Photo: Soknak Por/Oxfam

Participants acknowledged that solar energy is the better alternative option that was discussed in the workshop in terms of global and local emerging trend, decreased pricing, technology, environmental-friendliness, accessibility and affordability. It is important to note that Cambodia government has recently received 7.6 million US dollars for investing on solar power plant while two solar power plants 10 Megawatt (MW) in Bavet municipality, Svay Rieng province has been operating for 2 years and 100 MW in Kampong Speu under installation to be completed by August 2019.

The workshop was concluded and agreed that renewable energy, especially solar panels, shall be the key priority for alternative for social and environmental-friendly power generation rather than large-scale hydropower plants. It will be the main topic to discuss in different discourses to promote safeguarding and water governance in the Mekong.