tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN August 23, 2016 2:31pm-4:32pm EDT
>> so i turn it back over to the panel but i do think that we will want to hear more and on how they try to manage the competing interests. but thank you so much. >> you leave me with the tough choice of allowing him to respond now or wait. i will give him a few minutes to think about the question. but the point being, of course, is this is an amazingly complicated region hydrologically. the development interests are somewhat similar but quite different among the countries and what they need to accomplish.
it is a complicated political region and institutional region. that is why we are brought the u.s. colleagues here to co. on the same infrastructure in the united states and compare where there might be lessons learn. and jean, maybe i will start with you, our joint commission with canada have a long relationship, but have moved on to the more local issues. you might comment on some of what you have heard or the experiences in the united states you might be able to reflect on these issues. >> you know, when you invited me to this panel the immediate phrase that came to mind was fools rush in because as an engineer i am trained to solve problems and fix things.
having been with some of the workforce, the mrc in the past, it is a very complicated problem. i don't have any solutions for you. i feel sort of helpless to come up with a magical solution about what you should be doing other than to say that perhaps you need to change your objectives. you need to change your perspective on what needs to be done in the basin. if you don't mind i have a little presentation to give? >> yeah, i am not seeing any objection to it. >> and again this is part of my debilitating defect as an engineer. i need crutches. i need slides to show because i am not a diplomat and i cannot speak easily about nothing. >> that is not true. >> you know one of the things you have to recognize of all of
these developing nations and that when you have flood damages or drought damages of the magnitude that -- and you can see up here you have cambodia, thailand. a lot of the nations in the mekong river basin are in the high end of flood damages. you cannot grow, you cannot prosper, you can not have sustainable development unless the first item you fix is all of these dealings with the extreme of hydraulics and whether nature -- and another graphic showing the same thing that i put together which is look at the human development index. the world bank hdi on the left and water percentage with gdp. most of the mekong nations are on the right hand side. the first thing you to do is get your water disaster damages to
less than one percent of your gdp per event. as big as hurricane katrina was in the united states, if you look at it in terms of proportion of the gdp it is like .02 percent and that is why we could absorb the damages. 200 billion in damages but in an 18 trillion economy is nothing. well in most of these other countries it is 5-10 percent of the gdp. that is the first thing you have to deal with in any water management strategy. secondly, you have to recognize, and i have a feeling working with the world bank and usaid, we try to transform the values of developed nations on developing nations awhen in fact developing nations have a
different set of objectives and priorities they ought to be pursuing and the first is poverty reduction which is connected to flood damage and other aspects. you cannot jump oversight and investigations over and leap over basic development and go into green economy and these other wonderful phrases as part of sustainable development without dealing with poverty reduction. how do you do poverty reduction? what is the solution to poverty reduction? is it solar panels? wind mills? it is economic development. how do you do economic development? that is the crux of the matter. so the pillars of poverty reduction, the first is you have to stimulate economic growth, improve social wellbeing, strengthen institutional capacity and so on and so forth. i will run three these quickly. the fundamental debate we have
in our world, meaning the european union system and the world bank, is the debate between these two economists who have written book the same year on the fate of india. how do you make india grow? one of them follows the bernie sanders' model of more wealth redistribution and everyone has to be equal. where do you get the wealth from? how do you create the wealth? he says first you have to glow economy then you can use the revenue grow generated -- grow -- to provide the other social services. it seems logical to me but it doesn't seem to be logical to the european union system because the u.n.system created goals without economic development among them.
so they are basically following the strategy where it is said first you have to deal with poverty reduction through economic development before you go get to the other sustainable development goals. but the u.n. says the goals are equal and we should pursue them but how do you if you don't have the wealth to pursue those objectives? it doesn't make any sense. my point is, i think you can read it, the u.s.-u.n. eight strategies with pushing the bases of an agreeable economy as the bases of development when in fact it is going to maintain people on the assistance level.
you cannot skip over basic infrastructure investments to get to this green economy that will grow the overall economy. and many policies we have in the united states that are being promoted in the mekong river basin are substantial levels. we don't want you to buy fish at the center mark. that is the substance economy. that doesn't get people out of poverty. so you can't leap frog over traditional investments and infrastructure by shifting over to all of these green economy type solutions. it is not going to work in the mekong river basin and that is why i say it needs a shift in the thinking of the objective. what does the commission p promote? how does it go about promoting
these objectives? we have a lot of dams in north america so you can see the mekong basin wants to build extra capacity that doesn't even reach the capacity of europe. they think there is a lot of dams in the mekong river basin it is not even close to what we have in north america which has generated a lot of economic growth and opportunities in the american west, the mississippi river basin, the columbus river basin which i would argue is closer in objectives to what the mekong river union should be following rather than mississippi because it has more hydro electric power dams. you see a picture of a cattle herder holding a cellphone. that is supposed to be the sort of somehow we can then generate
out of this cellphone we can make people's lives happy, happier and better. well the cellphone needs cellphone towers and electricity. where do you get this stuff? that is the problem. where do you get the basic, fundamental core infrastructure to provide the new technologies to be able to use the technologies? we are even having trouble with the green economy in our developed countries especially in california with the latest drought revealing a lot of problems in california. what i think i am going to do, not to take more time, is i am going to end with this slide because i have ten more and we have a couple other. they are wonderful slides. you have to have nice slides. i am an engineer and i recognize
i think about these problems differently. maybe i will do one more slide. the diplomats think about these problems differently because we all have different objectives but the fundamental objective is what the minister wants. we can provide the information you need and the diplomats can negotiate what the flood people, how much the reservoir will rearrange the flood people from the drought and lows, and all of this other information; how much water there is to allocate to the various countries. we could give you that information. we don't do the negotiations. we do the analysis. but what is it we are working toward? what are the objectives? what the minister wants. economic development, he wants to get financing for this economic development from somebody, either internally from
taxes, the world bank or usid and wants to insure water security. so the job of the injury and the job of the diplomat is to make sure these things happen. but the diplomats work on a completely different set of objectives. i think a big part of the problem in marci is the diplomats muddy the waters that are already muddy to begin with. thank you very much. >> so normally i would ask gene a question but i don't think you came to see the two of us get into it. we do do that and are happy to but this is an important perspective and one that a lot of countries are trying to deal with. how do you make the hard decisions between basic infrastructure projects that might put local livelihood at
risk but get the economic engine started? we were talking about these famous issues an hour ago. this is an important per spespee to bring to the table. i was thinking of will and then jerry. jerry, you may offer -- >> i can respond to points there. economic growth is happening in southeast asia. it is happening big time. the major push is people are moving to the urban areas. that is where the jobs are. poverty reduction is happening. things are improving. there are lots of challenges but really to say that development is not happening -- it is happening in a big way in southeast asia in particular. and another thing, the mobile phones, the private sector is the engine driving this. they are out there promoting the private sector and building cell towers and expanding the use of mobile phones in many ways. this is happening now.
>> great. william? >> thank you very much. very much appreciate the opportunity talk a little bit about the interstate commission on the platomic basin. the rcprb was established in 1940 and established by a compact among four states. maryland, west virginia, pennsylvania, the district of columbia and the federal government and it was ratified by an act of congress in 1940. it was motivated by the disgraceful potomac river that
was polluted. the aim of was to protect, enhance and conserve the waters and associated land resources of the plato -- potomac river. we get grants from large agencies such as epa the environmental protection agency. we have a budget of about 3 million a year. a little less. there are three commissioners per jurisdiction and i am one of the washington, d.c.. we have a production staff of about 20. our powers are limited. we have no regulatorregulatory .
but as a volunteer organization we have still managed to help the jurisdictions in the potomac river basin address the key issues. for instance, we are primarily interested in collecting, analyzing and distributing scientific information about the basin. we promote uniform laws and regulations home to various partners. we dissidissiminate information the public and talk about major projects that affect the water in the basin. there are four major emphasis areas in our work. one is water supply. hundred percent of the water we drink in washington, d.c. comes
from the potomac river. we are interested in water quality, aquatic life, and education of the stakeholders and the public. the serious industrial and sewage pollution of the '40s and '50s are behind us thanks to the clean water act and drinking watwa water protection act and work of the states in the region. we still have problems. primarily sewage is a problem because of our combined sewer system where our storm sewer and sanitary systems are interconnected. whenever there is a major warm storm in washington you get overflows of untreated water in the potomac river. that is being addressed with
infrastructure investments. the major issues in the river now are the increased population and increase demand for drinking water as well as water for cooling and power plants and industry. for agriculture, we have issues are nutrients and sediment when are making their way into the river. land use changes and the increase of surfaces making for a more erratic distribution of the water over time. we have emerging contaminants and ally alien species. we are not far from the shell area where the potential for fracking is there but not much happening in the basin. there is a history of coal mining in the western part of the area.
i can i went through in sort what i was going to say and i can talk more if there are questions about what we do to assure a secure water supply for d.c. and the area. i can talk about what we do with emergency spill response. i can talk more about what we do, our part we do, in protecting the chesapeake day and insuring the level of pollutants finding their way into the chesapeake bay are minimized and we help with issues with the restoration of a migratory fish of the river herring if that interests you. i will leave it at that. >> economic growth is happening in southeast asia in the mekong area driven by the private sector. one challenge is how can we help influence and guide this investment?
well planned, well constructed, appropriate planning and design and without that you are likely to have significant impacts. one area i want to focus on is social and environmental safeguards. this is something the u.s. has a lot of experience in. twement approaches, advocating an integrated approach where food transportation, fisheries, water supply is maximized. i want to highlight five areas we are engaged in the in lower mekong. first, we are involved in supporting informed decision making. we want to help the decision makers look at sound science and how do you anticipate social environmental costs and benefits of environmental projects? one example is we have been building the capacity of local organizations to actually do
modeling for projects of dam and look at the sediment flow and the fishing levels and look at the science-based issues and inform decision making safe on the evidence unable to develop. second, we support the increased coordination among national governments. we support a number of regional bodies and the u.s. is particularly involved in a regional technical plan. this is having an impact on overall guidance in the region but several countries in particular are looking at how to improve their national level particularly cambodia and burma. the third area is improving awareness, access and use of the information in particularly
geospge geospatial data. in this regard we are supporting a long-term capacity on geo spatial analysis and increasing engagement. the fourth area is we are delivering on demand, technical support to help with the negative impacts of the program. and the last part i want to highlight is energy. we believe very strongly in promoting the use of clean, renewable energy in the power grid system and expanding energy efficiency to help reduce the demand for new electricity. we support using procurements and mobilizing the finances. we are demonstrating that solar power and other renewable energies are attractive and the cost available can be
competitive with fossil fuel and renewable power plants can be built on a faster time frame with minimal negative social and environmental factors. i would like to thank the center for hosting this event. >> thank you, jerry. that is very helpful. i want to turn back to the region first to see if you had questions, comments or reflections on what you heard from the other panelists and then i will turn it over to see if there are any questions. if not, i will ask questions. no? do you have any? any questions from out here? start on the left. tell us who you are before you ask that would be great. >> sure. i am from modest international and i currently work on --
[inaudible question] >> i would like to ask about the relationship between usa and the mekong river commission. generally what that relationship looks like and what interactions there are, if any. >> well, the regional organization, we collaborate with them. we don't have a working relationship in the sense of an agreement but collaborate and support them in many ways. we had to support them on the modeling study for the fish flow and movement and that was with the mekong river commission. >> correct me if i am wrong and looking at a couple folks, but the united states is actively involved as part of the donors group to the mekong river commission and working with the other donors to provide
strategic advice and on occasion targeted financial support. i think there are activities within the mrc where we offer support through the usaid and the state. is that fair? >> well, did you want to comment on the relationship between -- >> i think you may know better than me. actually i would like to just correct something. he has been working with the commission for six years in the past. he hasn't been working but now he is the acting secretary general home to the mekong river, national mekong river committee. so he is not developing with the
commission. i paid two visits in the usaid office in bangkok and we very much would like to further the degree of the relationship with the usaid. i think it depends. we have a lot of support from the usaid and a lot of work together but i cannot give you the details. >> make sure you get a card. we are trying to do this with the new development and help build the capacity. we know people and time to support integrated decisions. this is an important issue for us. another one right there. thank you. >> thank you very much for the discussion. my name is david.
we are implementing two of the programs. the mekong environment and the party sector. the question i had is from the gentlemen from laos and then vietnam regarding the mekong operation mechanisms. there is another body that might p perhaps -- [inaudible question] >> okay. um, i am from vietnam but i do
not represent vietnam. i am a ceo and neutral and i am not funded by vietnam in order to represent the commission. just to make that clear. talking about this lack of mekong corporations, when they have this summit in china in march 2016, we are saying at the announcement we support it. now to say but you need to know the mekong corporation has wide area of corporation. what do the resources are is one
of five areas they cover. so that is one thing. so to answer that, and we would like very much because we represent and we are regional organization of only four countries including vietnam, thailand, laos and cambodia. we had china, burma and myanmar as partners. we would say we would like to participate in the work of mekong corporations. we actually volunteered to take care of all the water issues and we would like to take -- this may be too close. to take care of all of the water resources and what the issue of the mekong corporation if
possible however still located in laos or cambodia. not to move to china. and we expect -- expressed that to china. does it supersede efforts of the mekong river commission? there is concern of many different partners but i don't see it would supersede because it has a larger areas of interest of the activity. the second thing is this. mekong commission is the only organization which is pretty bias. the corporation is just, how do i say this, it is not a base. we have been, by the way, we have been in the business for the last 24 years. if you compare the 1995 mekong agreement with so-called 1996
united nations convention then i would say we have a longer history of time for the opra operation of the agreement or implementation of the agreement in the region. the u.n.co cob convention wa n con -- the u.n. convention just ratified it but not other countries. china voted against it in 1997 even. it seems the mekong is relevant. when you look at the agreement
that was signed it was the most appropriate agreement at the time. moreover, if you look at the history of the mekong river commissions for the last 31 years it is legendary. this convention is beautiful, wonderful, however in vietnam is the only country ratified and other upstream countries don't ratify it. so in that way, i think i answer the question that it is relevant and the mekong corporation is not supersede the mekong river commission. >> i was going to ask a follow-up but maybe i will go to other questions. where did the microphone go? let's work that way because it
is closest to you and i will get it to you then. >> thank you. i am formally from the [inaudible] i think this is more of a reflection. if you don't mind, can you show your -- [inaudible] i don't think you were saying there is a conflict here. in fact, i think what you are saying that is something the diplomats have to work together to achieve the objectives that are prescribed. what i would like to say is that is what this is. they are engineers and diplomats. i love the overlapping perspective and the objectives. the first one is an objective on sustainable development. we look at the log and it says basic development but there is a
lot of debate on the real definition of that. that is the first objective. they were able to come up with a sustainable development. the second thing that is not being discussed is the diplomat serves as a form of communication or discussion within the countries just to keep the peace i think it is important that -- [inaudible] you mentioned both rivers are both --
[inaudible] i recommend that but i think the mekong commission river is more treated as the like minded ones in the region. correct me if i am wrong but i think it is looked at more negativi negatively. >> you want to pass the microphone? anybody have questions? >> the other slides i didn't show were related to this one. the point is water management is like three dimensional chest. you have to flat plain where the engineers and resources and watwat wat water irrigation are working on problems but there is another
set of planes above that and the solution to the mekong river problems lay not in the sector but in the diplomatic triangle because they could get at other issues of benefit sharing, trade agreements, water quality agreements, trans-boundaries and things that can be used to leverage things you want in water resource management. that is behind the management realm. is the in the diplomat realm and i am not sure they are functioning on that multi dimensional level as they should. >> i think that is exactly right and it is challenging. we are all stove pipe. how do you reach the right level of management that can make decisions across the different sectors and aspect of trade is very challenging.
it is a big challenge i think your new ceo will face. how do you bring the information to the policymakers or empower them to be able to make the kinds of decisions they will have to make? that is going to be a real challenge. >> i'm jane, a senior advisor at the [inaudible] bureau office. i had a question and a comment. my comment is on eugene's presentation. as an engineer, i liked the visual so thanks for the graphic. the one comment i would make is i don't agree it is either or of economic development or so-called green economy. i think that if we don't develop it in an environmentally sustainable way it is much more
difficult to later try to introduce green or environmentally-friendly, even energy efficient measures into the project after they are troducted and built. i would say i think it can be done together and you can have more economic growth in a sustainable way. my question, for you, is for mrc, what do you think are your greatest needs agencies like yours would assist you to be as effective as possible in the region and ways we can assist you in achieving your goals? >> i would say i don't know much about the usaid.
i don't know what i can ask you because i don't know a lot. so that is one thing. however, what i know technically you can help us a lot as also u.s. folks that are engineers help in the technical areas. even though the approach alfred in bangkok we would like very much right now to complete so-called study which would put the order of impacts of the hydro power of the impacts and in order to have it as an input for the decision making in foreign countries. so all of that, the technical x
expertise is important. we look at the space that you have workshops in cambodia in the office and we think that is great. however it costs a lot of money so i think it is also might be a problem to implement those technologies in the region. that is not the only thing. i think the skills in the same area that i learned from in the usa that you have a center of conflict resolution. you talk about stakeholding engagement.
we listen to public hearings in the mississippi river commission which amazingly they have done that for the last 150 years or since 1878. that number is 396 expressions of this water inspections. one session, the last session they did, they had a seven profiteering from the top of the river to the downstream. the amazing thing is that we never do that.
we would like to tap into those experiences and responsibilities. >> these software skills are very interesting. did you want to add? >> if i could perhaps ad a little bit about the potomac river. we have undergone evolution since the 1940s and it may be instructive to others as well. back in the day, as many of you know, many water resource issues were considered engineering problems. so dig a ditch or whatever. build a levy. we have over the years away from that obviously and we are very much in a world of integrated water resource management where we try to take together all of the various asspects of the --
aspects and deal with it. the role of forward and wet lands in regulating water flow and cleaning water. we cast our strategic plan. if you have a chance to go to our website, potomacriver.org and look at that. we are in the process of starting stakeholders meetings for the entire basin involving all stakeholders and that will be a two-year process. so i bring it all together note just focused on the engineering but those things are important but really trying to find all that for the best solution.
>> if i could raise the issue, and a bit of a follow-up to the question she raised but i wanted to say to gene, you get the props for the most provocative statement made on the panel about the water power. that is not meant as a unintended -- [inaudible] >> okay. but one point you made is relevant to what jerry was talking about because when i hear all of the things you say he is doing i didn't hear priorities or strategic approach.
and i want to try to make a point about that. i want to use both of these comments to raise another issue that aaron would be very familiar with but also to call on both of our regional representatives here. and that is there has been -- these days the debate is not so polarized maybe as it was in the past, partly because the reality some of these dams are being built but there are rising questions about even the feasibility, financial feasibility and the political feasibility, the projects and political risks. and also things like the mekong in recent years hasn't gotten a lot of water in it, that was assumed it was going to be there for the future in terms of the flow particularly in the dry season.
there has been a lot of discussion and it is called the nexus and that is the trade-off between water, energy, food security and i wonder if a sector of the panel would like to comment on where this stands with the nexus and where does the nexus stand in terms of either the mrc or the friends of the mekong or the lower mekong initiative? there is a lot of talk about the trade-offs but no mechanisms to actually put them into play.
so anyone... >> maybe to give my colleagues a few seconds to think because i usually talk and not think we do have priorities and when you look at where the usaid and othererize working to improve integration planning and development and decision making. but otha lot of investments are bilateral and not regional necessarily. we will have to do justice to bilateral programs that address the basic needs from accessing sanitation and improving agriculture and other development outcomes focused on in the individual news. the nexus, part of my role within the mekong, i chaired the environment and water working
group of the lower mekong initiative. we have been talking about the nexus issues and i know that every time -- what does the nexus actually mean? i know that is a tough issue to address. what is the money we are leaving on the table by not looking holistically at the issues collectively when talking about development. and the other side of that coin is the risks and understanding the risks, the new risks that are emerging, because of the interconnection between water issues and are we doing enough to address these issues. we actually at the state department, working closely with colleag colleagues, have put out a
request to look at the nexus programs within the mekong region and our hope is to begin programs that address the challenges in the coming months. i know it is an area we are trying to advance quite a bit with our colleagues. jerry, did i do that justice? >> the only thing i would add on is we have specific strategies for a given country looking at the problems but also the government's capability and other donors. it would be a broad perspective on the role of the u.s. government in that particular country. talking about the nexus, for example, we are focusing more on food security and you are looking at the issue of food and nutrition. the biggest challenge we see on the social wellbeing is malnutrition and many companies in southeast asia have high stunting rates. in the development world, we get sulfites but it is important to think about what is required for
development in the country and it is good nutrition for the first two years of a child's life and education and then private sector engaged and clean water. a lot of things have to be done. i would say there is a priority but it is in a broader context. >> let me twist your question and repropose it to dr. phan. we know a lot of water challenges the mrc is going to be looking at is driven by the energy sector and those conversations are happening in or foyer. what steps are you thinking about or are you not there yet about how we bring other communities into the discussions of the mrc or mrc concerns into the other areas? there is a clear interconne
interconnectivity to the process and what the mrc is looking to do in water. >> this is difficult for me to answer. however, we have ideas, strategic plan, which covers all of these hydro power and covers the fishery which is the source of security, we talk about food security in cambodia. we talk about the water quality and how we -- my college talks about the sediments which i think we talk about the sediment and see it differently in the mekong river. in the mekong river, sediment is very vital which helps the
vietnam rice bowl in the mekong delta. in fact, we even suggestions from nature and heritage institute that we even suggest to china to do the sediment flushing of their dams in order to release the 50% of the sediment which is trapping [inaudible] >> i would say yes, it is in our strategy. so in any way, it is -- we are working on all of this issue together. >> i think it is not really -- how to express this in our strategy plan, however all these, i would say three
components of it are embedded in the strategy. first i would like to share information about the me conriver -- mekong river. they are not called the mekong river. so from laos and china they go to the delta. so it is the main path upward. the mekong condition has four members and we have china and myanmar and that is what i would
like to share. regarding the, what you call it, on the information about the water shed basin plan. if compared to mississippi, mississippi is [inaudible] >> you are looking at sedimentation, water color, usage, and then we are looking with a flat regimen. we are also looking on what is less information. that is why we have an mou so we come here to share and learn from mrc how is the management of the basin level in myanmar. i would like to add that in. thanks.
>> microphone. >> hello, my name is paula lot. i am a graduate student focused on energy and the environment and i have a simple question. you mentioned in laos there are plans that compliment the agreement from the mekong river commission. is there any plan in the rest of the three countries that have been successfully implemented? like in a concrete way. is there any plan or any construction that have been complime complimented based on the argument. >> are there construction plans that one country has brought to the mrc that have been actually carried out?
>> just based on the mrc argument. >> and protocols within the mrc? have there been specific dams or other activities that have been proposed by some of the countries that have worked with the mrc procedures successfully? let me answer. if i understand your question correctly you want to see output. i would say that we have this i talk about the strategy in 2016-2020 and this is a strategy plan over five years and we had the first five year strategy plan which is 2011-2015.
our plan was that was completed. you have the whole plan for the five years. if i am not mistaken, the question for the last five years about 120 million and in the broader terms you have a strategy plan that was largely completed so that is a big accomplishment. ... actually in the place, which is the first one, for water quality, the next one would be the water flow of the river.
and the next one is water utilization, then the fourth one is data exchange, also very important one. and moreover, with also, how say, division of the data from china. it has been increased from 2000 to up to know. if not they get more information, more data to ask mrc to mekong river commission. actually my previous ceo even stay with me that china sent data to make river commission more than with any other country. so more than any other institution. so that is i would say, but the last one i would say, aaron already mentioned, stand for the procedures prior agreements,
which has been -- even how to say, law professors say these two applications are unique, know anyone in the world which accomplish. even though those procedures which have been, how to say, they identify design changes, or the required design changes, and that's why it's to reduce negative impacts of the dam to the environment. so i think, how to say, a congressman i think think that you with mrc, i think that you might agree with me. so to answer your simple question, but i think a lot of thing to say. >> all yours, jean.
>> another question. do you think i ran out of provocative things to say, right? >> no way. >> visited the diplomats. have the big discussions in the background that we are not aware of? what would it take to get the damned to be left uncompleted, what incentives can you give, pe to build other dams upstream that would equal the capacity or less, hydroelectric power capacity in the flood control capacity of that damn? what would it take, what is a, cambodia that is building an? allows. what would it take for us to say okay, we will not build a dam but we want something more and bigger? what's on the table? >> are you asking me?
>> i'm asking for diplomat, arun. >> i'm supposed to be the moderator. [laughter] >> this is the way i would run negotiations, you know. that's okay. so what do you want? what is going to take. donald trump would be good at this. [laughter] what would it take for you to forgo the dam, and we will build you other dams that would be equivalent. it seems to me that is the logical thing to do rather than, rather than -- in other words, -- >> please go ahead. >> here's the thing. the mrc and the state department, and all of the whole diplomatic community, basically if you understand optimization, you plan by constraints where i would rather that you plan by what are your objectives, okay? we aligned your objectives, reconfigure the whole table, the chessboard, okay, then search
all over again. instead of being stuck in the same rut you've been stuck in the last 20 years. >> look, you are exactly right. we do go back to ask these questions and look at how i do want to pick on loud. look any country this kind of situation. there's no question, they need energy security. look, they're trying to meet the basic needs other people. they need energy, they need water, they need to the people to meet the basic needs of their people. and in some cases they do that to both mechanisms, one about providing the services but also generating for granted which can generate income that allows them to invest in those basic services directly. i think that's a situation you found a country like allows him. they need to both provide those services for people and generate revenue. hydropower as we generating revenue. this is really conficker set of
challenges when you talk about what our capacity is to influence this. and please, step in and correct me if i don't have this right. >> okay. i think first of all it's allows, not cambodia. -- that's laos. i had the honor to visit the site. i find it's a very beautiful advanced dam, but i would say that laos as objective to develop economic, i mean, to have a good economic development to increase their gdp, income revenue. so if you have in your house, if you have these nine dams that could be built, and you could have thought of, how to say, income right away, why don't you do that in order to reduce the
ability of your country? if you look at, now you say what would be the incentive for laos got to build a dam in order -- simple, give them money. are you able to give the money in order for them to, how to say, to be free from the least developed countries? simple. and also there was a talk actually, actually when i met in vietnam there was a warsaw in this water use of mekong river valley in a sustainable way. and he say we did in vietnam, had to say, be willing to pay laos a certain that a bunny for laos not to vote a certain dam? simple, right? the other thing i would say,
well, you can come in and build nuclear power plant. they would have this nuclear power plant and maybe they'll have another kind of protest, green protest, did not build a nuclear power plant. follow japan, followed germany, forget the nuclear power plant. the same game again. now, but look at this nuclear, if you look at the hydropower. you know what? laos would come they wouldn't go into operation in 2019. do you know what? laos which is only 5% of that 1200 megawatts hydropower plant. 95% would be sold to thailand. thailand would bite 95%. and thailand is a wonderful investor. the biggest investor.
but however, i would say that, i would like to say i think i love this, your american fellow. laos has an excellent degree on the nuclear, on the green energy. and it's, i think, actually even, how to say, advocate use of purchase or sale of energy which should be green. that is very good. i think it's very progressive advance in the region. by saying that i think that thailand should buy only green energy from laos, and laos should build only green, had to say, green dam's. so just i think that's answer to your question.
>> thank you for this information. >> another question before gene thinks of something else? >> thank you. i completely changed my question after that conversation. i'm from u.s. department of energy office of international affairs. i cover southeast asia including laos. my question is for everyone on the panel. in your respective positions and with your organizations, in what way are you incorporating climate change in the anticipated change and long-term rainfall, either increase or decrease, seasonal changes into the planning and development of your system and into long-term portfolios? >> i could do it first. we are doing it several ways.
there's a requirement all international use government activities must look at climate change impacts as part of the design. we do at the country level strategy and a second point, we design a given project, specific project, there' this could be a mandatory analysis just like we had for gender issue but it's going to be a climate change analysis that looks at a given project. they could be health project, agriculture project. they will you look at climate you impacts and then how do we address it and mitigate it? for example, you are saying and health services will get more impact from health will be more demand for health systems. because of the impact of climate change. in agriculture you were saying what of it going to be doing about the drought long periods? you have drought resistant seeds, drip irrigation, change are cropping. so each particular project have to look at it and say what are you trying to accomplish, what
can impacts the expect? it could be floods, it could be drones. each example have to look at a country's specific example. is the required mandatory analysis. usaid will be learning as we do this. we don't have all the edges. we have to be learning and adapting to be transparent about what worked and didn't work. we are putting all the evaluations online. is what you as it did. some worked, some didn't work, and be transparent. >> willem, how are you guys looking at climate impacts? >> climate is extreme important to us. a lot of our work has to do with longer-term forecasting, demand and supply of water for the washington, d.c. area. so we are very much aware of a model and that's taking place in terms of predictive variability in precipitation.
it seems the basin as a whole is sort of in an immediate area. some areas will get more water, some areas less but overall the amount of water may be roughly the same for the next several decades but there is concern about the intermittency and the variability in that supply. and so we have just issued last year a report looking at the water supply for the area over the next 25 years. we are relatively confident that we can survive both kinds of incidents of drought that have occurred in the past, but as we get further along, we do get concerned about what the possibilities are. we are definitely sort of factoring that into all of our activities, and it is an issue for us. >> gene, butcher edging ahead, nadra philosopher hat on. you were going to did some of the same things in the great
lakes. can look at some of these long-term climate -- >> we assessed it. from the mekong river basin report. there are six scenarios that the mekong river commission used and you can see as an engineer how do i design, what are the engine in design standards for a system that there is plus 40% to minus 40%. we found the same things in the great lakes. so the cloud of dots plus or minus 10 degrees celsius plus or minus 100% variability in lake levels. so how do you get out of that morass? it's almost impossible unless you use engineering judgment, which is what i am here for. there is no way really to plan for this, on top of which come
adecco have, i didn't bring the slide because i didn't want to bore you, there's a 10,000 year record of monsoons in vietnam, in case. the stalactites, stallard might. you can see over the last 10,000 years a monsoon intensity has decreased significantly since 10,000 years ago to a point where the civilization disappeared because they have the 40 year drought. no monsoons. now it's rebounding. if it rebounds, 10,000 you to go temperature was two degrees celsius higher. so from that, from the evidence other than the logic evidence, one could deduce that you better be planning for more frequent floods, more intense monsoons, a lot more flooding in the future than it has been in the recent past. >> good question. tough answer.
any thoughts? >> i think right now in vietnam is concern that they're getting less water and less. so if monsoon is more, then it would be very wonderful for the vietnamese. >> monsoons and typhoons, remember, you are getting hit from both sides. >> to answer your question, what we do, i think that in mekong river commission we have, if i'm not mistaken, about five transboundary projects which are model projects in order to try to unpack these measures against that climate change. with those projects, had to say, if the projects seem to be successful, identify good measures, that would be
multiplied or how to say topic throughout the region. so that's going on right now. we have, in fact, before this reform into mekong river commission before the july, we have big program actually funded by european union for the term within and climate change, initiative. so right now that the program that is even, how to say, expanded, extended for the next 12 years, 12 months. however, because of this reduction of, to become leaner organization for the mrc, we reduce the staff a year ago. we have about 200 people now. we have only 66 positions, so
that also would come have to say, the program. i mean, we don't have enough people, but that's what we have to do. >> as the moderator, you just came and told us look, 650 different models. how much did all this cost? >> it cost them we spent, because we have plenty of money, we spent about $2 million just on the climate change impact analysis. >> just looking at the analysis, not even addressing the analysis, are we -- sorry. we've got real need. are we taking money away from delivering services on the ground to invest in analyses and research of the really might not get us much further down a sound development pathway?
i've got a person who is make a decision about i did all the resources i can to provide basic needs for the people i've got. this climate analysis sounds like spending money on things that are not going to give me answers. >> cloud of dust. >> is this an existential issue or a real practical issue we're working with in terms of balancing our investment and we put our money in the future? >> i think it's a reasonable balance. i don't think you be investing large amounts of money. you've got to look at existing resource, find evidence and make your best judgment anthony kim learning as we go along. we don't have all the answers. >> so looking at existing resource. >> just looking from an investor's perspective, one of the hydropower dams basis uncertainty of availability over the next 30 years. >> if you wanted to build a dam and, you can answer these questions. this will be in the river for 200 to five figures, right? >> so it's not all the time
spent we don't understand hydrologic are beyond 30 come is that fair? there's a real challenge between those two issues to begin with. we talked about this us lunch. if you build a dam and take a and figures that would be the ideal situation because we may not, they may not be appropriate at that point and we may not need them at that point but they still present one of the most important ways that meeting some of these basic needs now. this is a real challenge. >> you don't want create a potential disaster that's where than the original flight itself. right? -- original flood. >> if you're another country looking to invest infrastructure in laos and looking to profit over 25 year concession, right, you're going based on historical data. you are not required to do a climate change analysis. are you making the best thing --
investment decision? you can generate less in times of doubt that you can never generate more than your max capacity in times of flood. you are either spelling your money or your not getting the money that you anticipated. >> let's get back to some of the questions i think gene was asking. we have a great deal of concerns about how these things are being financed. and await a third party funding is point and much larger role in developing to large infrastructure in the traditional financial institutions where we worked very hard to build safeguards in to look at some of those kinds of issues. you're right, 25530 year concession, and what happens injures 50 might not be important to them -- 2 25-30. there's a large capacity building element in one of the as we worked a lot with is to build their capacity to be able to look at these types of arrangements and understand what types of things they should be
requiring in these kinds of deals. that's going to be more important, if the buyers, make the buyer more capable of being aware. sorry, it is buyer beware. but we want to build the capacity so they can enter into an arraignment to protect their own interests. they want something that we delivering in your 50, something that will cover much the other development opportunities and they want something that would not create a bigger problem than the topic we need to build the capacity to make those decisions because that's going to be the wave of the future. it's a real tough, it's a tough world out there. >> let me clarify. two aspects of dam design. one joint to maximize your output and much larger benefits. hume also want to make sure that the design is safe, that a dam doesn't collapse, that it passes the maximum probable flood. it's the maximum probable flood
that i can't figure out from these gcm's. okay? i could do everything else. we could do all of the other stuff but this is the part that's really important that people tend to overlook. >> sorry, i'm looking. hendry, you had your hand up. and then rich, how much time did you want to close up? [inaudible] >> thank you again. so the mekong river basin development plan and versions of it in the future are based on the good understand of negative and positive impacts of
development in conjunction of climate change. i think the answer is yes, then let's put climate change in general, is well worth it. in fact, i think mrc has just completed or it's still undergoing climate change study which they've actually identified. a number, hundred of the gcm models and a number of downscaling techniques as they have come up with nine climate change scenarios that basically, you know, you know, the probable extent of the change in climate in the future. so i think in the mekong river basin, understanding the impacts instead of burning these scenarios, okay? i think the scenarios have to be
possible to but i'm going back to the hydropower dams in the study which are still undergoing, we considered scenarios that are possible. possible. what is that is the hydropower dams are going to be there. because i think the discussion to really focus on minimizing the negative impacts, maximizing the positive impacts of the developments, taking advantage of the opportunities that the climate change presents, and taking up on some of the risk. i will cite two examples, for example. the hydropower dam in laos, for example, and in china, i think they are kind of assigned to maximize power. but obviously through consultations and discussions among the member countries as well as dial up orders that might be room for more joint operation, perhaps for the benefit of flood control or dry
season irrigation or counteracting the impact of sea level rise maybe be the joint operation from the multi-object of operation of those will supersede the operation for maximum power. so i'm hopeful that's going to happen. i think that's going to happen. the real conflict i think into the common base events hydropower versus fish. the rest i think can be mitigated to some extent. but fish and dams, they don't mix. i think one-third of the fish species in the mekong river basin are those called long distance migrators, migrate all the way to china. and those likely to be impacted because of the barrier of the dance both upstream and downstream. and the solution has to actually look at who is willing impacted
of those, and that's basically that 60% for people in the basin, the basic think has about 6 million. that are relying on subsistence fishing. solutions have to obviously, i do have to say this, has to involve moving these people from subsistence farming to something else, and that may involve other sectors as well. not positioned energy, not necessarily water but other sectors as well. if i am a fish but i probably would hate myself for fishing every day. i would rather be working in an office can for example, just me and be able to provide better to my family. if we can provide option to the fishermen, maybe through the
host country, maybe to the other countries as well, maybe through development partners, i think that will be a big step towards actually coming up with a political management solution to this fish versus dam conflict. spent i think we would all rather be out fishing. [laughter] [inaudible] >> thank you, henry. very good way to i think bring us back to a more philosophical aspect as well. we at stimson have, we agree with most experts, environmental, scientific, et cetera, that mainstream dams 68, 70 meters high are not a really good thing in terms of so many for so dependent on fish
for their livelihoods and survival. but at the same time, we try to be practical about this so that laos has a definite interest in this, but there's also the issue of well, should laos profit at the expense of downstream countries. there has been a strategic environmental study done for the mekong river commission that showed, and also you mentioned, portland state university, university study which was supported by usaid showed huge disparity between to benefits. so the benefits that laos get are actually much smaller than the impact, negative impact of downstream on other countries. that's to say we are saying it takes it back to what are the trade-offs and how many dams, which ones, what type sort of
thing. approach to the issue. but finally, my colleague, courtney whether the who is responsible for maybe putting this program together, but in the other colleague, brian, we have come to the conclusion that it's not going to be persuasion, that is, save the fish or save the environment. it's really a drivers, it's about money and it's about economic development and the profits that come from it. and we don't believe in perpetual poverty either, as an answer to these things. -- >> we will break away from the last couple of scheduled minutes of this event to take you to the senate floor for a brief pro forma session scheduled for 4:00 eastern time. live coverage of the senate is
the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c., august 23, 2016. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable rand pau, a senator from the commonwealth of kentucky, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: orrin g. hatch, president pro tempore. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate stands adjourned until 10:00 a.m. on august 26, 2016.
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