Europe’s Pöyry Energy and its controversial role as Xayaburi dam consultant have been challenged under new OECD CSR rules.
Its turbulent currents snake their way through the tropical heart of Southeast Asia. The 4,880-kilometer Mekong river hosts the iconic giant catfish, the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin and the largest inland fisheries in the world. Its vast biodiversity – second only to the Amazon – offers myriad opportunities for ecotourism development
But are the wonders of the mighty Mekong doomed by a very different kind of development, fuelled by a rapacious demand for hydro-power in an energy-hungry region?
Construction of a $3.8 billion mega-dam project in Xayaburi, in the north of Laos, is already underway, with ten more dams slated for the mainstream of the river.
A group of Finnish nongovernment organizations have invoked European rules of corporate social responsibility, to challenge what they regard as reckless and irresponsible recommendations by Pöyry Energy AG, the Swiss engineering subsidiary of Finish consulting company Pöyry PLC, which has been hired by the government of Laos.
The Xayaburi dam project has been the subject of an international consultation process under the auspices of the Mekong River Commission (MRC), which comprises four member states: Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam
But the MRC has split between Laos and Thailand, which support the dam (Thailand is providing all the funding and will purchase 95% of the power generated), and Cambodia and Vietnam, which view dams on the Mekong as a cumulative threat to agriculture, fisheries and livelihoods.