Author

John M. Lynch

Date of Award

2-2016

Document Type

Capstone-Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Program Name

Environmental Policy and Management

Capstone Instructor

Dr. Elizabeth D'Andrea

Abstract

Potential ecological change along in the Mekong River Basin do to the rapid development of hydropower is well-researched. However, little is known about socio-political factors that are contributing to the creation of numerous dams along the Mekong River and major tributaries. A quantitative analysis of precipitation amounts and water levels in the Upper Mekong River Basin attempts to establish a relationship between dams in China and alterations to water levels through the Lower Mekong River. A qualitative analysis is used to explore the political and economic influences that contribute to additional dam construction within the Lower Mekong River Basin that threatens the ecological stasis of the region.

Findings validate predictive modeling used to establish a relationship between upstream dams and downstream water levels. Findings also reveal how governments in the region are investing in hydropower in order to promote economic growth in the absence of sound environmental planning or management strategies. Consequently, the lack of environmental policies as well as limitations in regional, trans-boundary governance are putting the food, economic and social security of millions of inhabitants in the LMB, particularly in Cambodia, at risk.

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