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dc.contributor.advisorHill, Douglas
dc.contributor.authorBatchelor, Rachel
dc.identifier.citationBatchelor, R. (2012). Contestations of Environmental Impact Assessments in the Mekong Basin (Thesis, Master of Arts). University of Otago. Retrieved from
dc.description.abstractThe Mekong River is one of the world’s great river systems. In recent decades there has been a rapid increase in the development of hydropower projects within the Mekong Basin – a trend accompanied by significant debate and controversy. Those in favour of hydropower claim it will bring substantial economic benefits and development to the region, whilst those opposed to the apparently rampant hydropower development are concerned about the potentially significant environmental and social impacts of these developments. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has become a key stage in the consent process for dam development in the Mekong Region, and in theory should act as a protective mechanism against the most negative outcomes of development. However, there is growing concern that in the Mekong Region EIAs are in fact being done to simply meet the funding or consent requirements, facilitating pre-determined development outcomes (e.g. Campbell, 2011; Goldman, 2005). These concerns reflect current dialogues in the literature, which recognise that EIA are being utilised in some contexts to dismiss criticisms of development projects and to justify projects’ progressions (e.g. Li, 2009; Cashmore et al., 2010). This research sought to contribute to the body of literature by exploring whether EIA are being utilised to justify hydropower development in the Mekong Region. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are one of the major stakeholders in opposition to current hydropower development trends in the Mekong Basin. This study explores how NGOs are responding to the utilisation of EIA to justify projects by dam proponents The research was centred on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) operating in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. Qualitative methods were utilised to undertake interviews with NGO representatives in the three study countries, including locally based NGOs and transnational organisations. The primary data was complemented by secondary resources, and all data was collated to inform the research questions. The research found that dam proponents are manipulating processes of EIA in order to produce impact assessment reports which reflect favourably on their projects. These manipulated EIA are then being used to support claims that proposed projects’ impacts will result in net positive outcomes, and to support claims that the decision to pursue the project is depoliticised. These discourses of EIA and hydropower are used to dismiss criticisms of dam projects. NGOs operating in the three case study countries have recognised the role EIA is playing in facilitating hydropower development in the region and are trying to contest and repoliticise EIA in a range of ways. Knowledge production was a major strategy, as NGOs try to overcome the significant knowledge imbalances between project proponents and themselves. Political space along with the capacity and resources of individual NGOs were observed to have the largest influence upon how NGOs were contesting EIA and on the success of their actions.
dc.publisherUniversity of Otago
dc.rightsAll items in OUR Archive are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.
dc.subjectsouth east asia
dc.subjectenviromental impact assessment
dc.titleContestations of Environmental Impact Assessments in the Mekong Basin
dc.language.rfc3066en of Arts of Otago
otago.openaccessAbstract Only
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