Lower Mekong hydropower development – basin-wide sustainability assessment

Client: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, Mekong River Commission
Location: Lower Mekong (Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam)
Date: June 2010 – July 2013

Developing innovative tools and collaborative approaches for sustainable hydropower and integrated river-basin planning


Significant sustainability, risk minimisation and performance benefits can be achieved by taking a broader, integrated approach to planning and managing hydropower development at the level of the entire river basin rather than at the level of individual hydropower projects.

In response to the scale and pace of hydropower development in the Mekong region, the Mekong River Commission and its member countries of Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand have recognised the need for integrative basin-wide approaches to hydropower sustainability, and Entura has consulted to the Commission and member countries to build capacity and develop approaches to basin-wide planning.


Entura has been involved in developing and implementing the Rapid Basin-wide Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Tool (RSAT) for the Mekong River Basin. Entura provided technical input and coordination during the development phase of the tool, including facilitating national and regional dialogue meetings, piloting early drafts of the tool and undertaking sustainability assessments in six hydropower sub-basins of the Lower Mekong.

The RSAT was developed in consultation with stakeholder groups across the Lower Mekong region. Multi-stakeholder dialogue and assessment tools such as RSAT can assist to identify development strategies, institutional responses and management measures that can be deployed to optimise the benefits of hydropower development and reduce the risks. The RSAT includes a framework of topics and criteria and an assessment approach. Whilst developed for the Mekong River Basin, the tool can be adapted to other regions.


Entura contributed its international experience in hydropower sustainability to support the development of an innovative sustainability assessment tool, RSAT, that is being applied in the Lower Mekong. The RSAT brings together key principles of integrated water resources management (IWRM) and hydropower sustainability to provide an integrated approach to considering hydropower sustainability issues within a basin-wide context. Entura has also contributed to implementation of the tool in the Mekong region and the development of training materials to build capacity in applying the tool.