ASEAN Today

A broken dam and broken promises: Laos doubles down on hydropower despite risks

Two years ago this week, a dam in southern Laos collapsed, releasing a flood that displaced over 7,000 people and killed at least 71. When a section of the Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy hydropower project broke on July 23, 2018, it sent 500 million cubic meters of ...

Thai farmers are trying a new, climate-friendly way to grow rice

A new agricultural program in central Thailand is working with farmers to change the way they grow rice, in a bid to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from rice paddies while saving water, time and money. The program, backed by the Thai government and German development agency ...

Skylar Lindsay

New study shows loss of Southeast Asia’s peat forests drives climate change

A new study by researchers in Singapore from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) uses satellite data to show just how rapidly Southeast Asia’s vital peat forests are being cleared, drained and dried out. The paper, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, uses remote sensing to document how peatlands ...

Skylar Lindsay

Southern Myanmar’s indigenous groups say the UN should scrap $21 million conservation plan

Myanmar’s Tanintharyi Region is among the most vibrantly biodiverse places in Asia. The southern tail of kite-shaped Myanmar, Tanintharyi encompasses hundreds of islands in the Myeik Archipelago, mangrove-lined coast, evergreen forests and the mountainous spine that forms the Thai-Myanmar border. The region holds some of Southeast ...

Skylar Lindsay

The COVID-19 rice economy: what a pandemic means for Southeast Asia’s staple

As cities and countries impose lockdowns, people around the world, from the UK to India, are struggling to access food. The causes vary, with some communities facing lost income and local scarcity while others deal with barriers to movement, but the drivers of this food insecurity are primarily ...

Skylar Lindsay

New study shows China caused drought in the Mekong, local experts must have control of their resources

“No fish. Nothing. We can only catch enough to eat ourselves. We fish through the night and all we catch is one or two skewers for cooking,” a Lao fisherman told Radio Free Asia earlier this year. He spoke to journalists on his boat on the Mekong River ...

Skylar Lindsay

Cleaning up a dirty industry: ASEAN is becoming more dependent on coal but it has an obligation to mitigate its environmental impact

Universal electricity access is a key pillar of ASEAN’s development goals. The regional bloc has committed to providing every citizen with an electricity supply by the early 2030s. To achieve this end, the region will need to increase its power capabilities by some 60% by ...

Oliver Ward

Chinese-owned banana plantations expand in Laos despite lingering environmental and health concerns

In 2017, the Lao government ordered the closure of the country’s Chinese-owned banana farms following reports of pollution and workers falling ill after being exposed to dangerous chemicals. Firms already operating in the country were allowed to stay open until their contracts expired. The ban prohibited ...

Oliver Ward

Will climate change spell the end of coal and hydropower in the Mekong?

This year has been rough for the 70 million people who call the Mekong River basin home:  a severe drought rocked the region for months before yielding to deadly flooding.  The Mekong slowed to its lowest level in recorded history, knocking the world’s largest freshwater fishery—Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Lake—out of ...

Skylar Lindsay

The Lao National Assembly refocuses attention on the issue of corruption

On June 14, members of the Lao National Assembly stood up, one after another, and recounted cases of bribery, embezzlement and corruption within the country’s courts and political system. Members described how courts routinely reversed decisions, revisiting judgements after receiving letters in favour of the accused, even after ...

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