Vietnam's Development Dilemma

Last December, the five-nation Mekong River Commission agreed to delay the Xayaburi dam project on the lower Mekong River in Laos pending further study, with Vietnam playing a major role in the decision. It was a rare victory for the environment in Vietnam, however. At a national level, the country remains far from implementing the environmental laws and regulations necessary to guarantee the government’s stated goal of sustainable development. In fact, the Xayaburi opposition appears to critics to be an anomaly. In recent years, not only Mekong projects have raised criticism, but also many others that Vietnamese authorities have planned, including the Son La dam project in Northwest Vietnam, whose construction has already forced the relocation of 100,000 people--mostly from ethnic minority groups.

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