The Bangkok Post reports on an address given by James Bond (Chief Operating Officer of the World Bank Group’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency) to the Mekong River Commission.

Here is an extract from Bond’s speech:

The third consideration is properly mitigating the impact on the environment and the people affected. While stakeholder participation and engagement is important throughout all the processes that I have mentioned, it is especially important when social and environmental impact is being managed. Communities need to have a say in this process, as well as civil society organisations and partners. Best practice programmes need to be implemented and this is when it is useful to tap the global and local knowledge that is available.

For example, Laos can draw on the lessons that have and are emerging from the Nam Theun 2 project. The preparation of NT2, with the numerous studies conducted and the at-length consultation processes, paved the way for more participatory, transparent and improved hydropower developments in Laos. These lessons can be evaluated and replicated in future projects so the best social and environmental programmes are put in place in order to effectively manage impact.

Were any New Mandala readers at the meeting? Exactly what were the Nam Theun 2 lessons that Bond was referring to? From my point of view the key lesson is this: produce a mountain of social assessment paperwork and hope that no one will notice just how unsustainable the package really is.