As it passes through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, the Mekong River bursts with color and life.

Boasting one of the world’s most diverse and productive inland fisheries the Mekong supplies communities within the basin with up to 80% of their animal protein needs.

It also provides fresh water, fertile silt, transportation, recreation, cultural identities and a way of life. Yet this beautiful, dynamic, and thriving river system – the lifeblood of the region – is increasingly threatened by climate change and ill-conceived development schemes.

A group of Thai people protesting with posters and prop fish.
Villagers from North and Northeast Thailand file lawsuit against Xayaburi Dam, August 2012 | Photo by: International Rivers

Chinese dam construction on the Upper Mekong is having devastating impacts on downstream communities, and dozens of dams are either planned, under construction or built within the Lower Mekong basin. This rapid expansion of hydropower threatens all countries who share the Lower Mekong Basin, with downstream Cambodia and Vietnam at greatest risk. 

But there is hope. The Mekong River is still a thriving ecosystem, and it’s not too late to protect it. We support local communities and in particular the women whose campaigns contributed to the Cambodian government’s announcement that it will suspend plans to construct two Mekong mainstream dams for at least ten years, as well as the cancellation of plans to blast rapids in Northern Thailand and Laos.

Our Work in the Mekong Basin

Continuing down the current path would mean death by a thousand cuts to the river’s rich fisheries and ecology and the 65 million people in the Lower Mekong Basin who depend upon them. International Rivers is working with partners in the region and internationally to challenge destructive development, maintain the richly biodiverse ecosystems of the Lower Mekong Basin, and advocate for a just energy transition that respects the rights of communities across the region.

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