Assessing a River Basin: The Politics of the Technical

TitleAssessing a River Basin: The Politics of the Technical
Annotated RecordNot Annotated
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsBoer, Hirsch, Johns, Saul, Scurrah
Secondary TitleThe Mekong: A Social-legal Approach to River Basin Development
SectionChapter 5
Place PublishedLondon and New York
Key themesHydropower, Impact Assessment, Transboundary Governance

This chapter examines how Mekong River Basin development activities and conditions have been evaluated and measured through environmental assessment processes, including both hard land and soft regulatory approaches. These environmental assessment processes, seen as an aspect of the technical mode of governance, represent a distinctive dimension of the 'politics of the technical'. The chapter investigates issues of civil society access to information and public participation in hydropower decision-making, and casts some doubt on the acceptability and legitimacy of actual decisions taken on the basis of these processes. It examines several hydropower developments, including A Luoi in Vietnam and Xayaburi and Don Sahong in Laos, in terms of these access issues. The chapter asks who participates in the assessment processes, and who does not (or not adequately), as well as what is assessed and how. The chapter also asks whether more participatory approaches in environmental assessment will actually lead to more equitable outcomes in hydropower development for 'stakeholders'. This in turn, raises the question of how equitable outcomes themselves might be defined and what role law has in achieving them.


Copyright Book


Cambodia, Laos, Regional, Thailand, Vietnam

Document Type

Book Chapter

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