Government officials and civil society representatives from across the Mekong region have agreed to establish a working group to develop a regional public participation guideline for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) this week in Hanoi, Vietnam.
In the statement released today, the Mekong Regional Technical Working Group for EIA brings together governments, civil society organisations (CSOs), and will expand to cover private sector and EIA experts to improve regional cooperation for effective EIA policy and practices. The group aims to reduce the social and environmental impacts of regional infrastructure projects, particularly as the upcoming Association of Southeast Nations (Asean) Economic Community further hastens trans-boundary investments.
"This could set an excellent platform and process helping to increase cooperation and dialogue among different stakeholders in social and environmental safeguards," said Mai Thanh Dung, deputy director of Vietnam Environment Administration, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE).
The agreement was reached as they convened in the workshop on "Impact Assessment and the Asean Economic Community: A Way Forward for Regional Collaboration". The workshop during May 12-13 was sponsored by United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
"Infrastructure investment decisions in this region are often made without the input of many of the most affected stakeholders," said USAID Vietnam Mission Director Joakim Parker. "Public participation protocols in EIA processes can help address this trend."
Several Thai companies have invested massively in energy projects in Myanmar and Laos.
Over 50 representatives from EIA departments and related ministries, CSOs, and academia from Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam participated in the workshop.