External Publication

Will the Benefits of Laos’s Future Hydropower Infrastructure Projects Outweigh the Costs?

by Jose Ma. Luis P. Montesclaros
Published on 17 May 2022

Chapters in Edited Books


Some have framed a dichotomy between Laos’s sustainable development building on hydroelectricity and their negative environmental impacts. This chapter argues that since 2010, Laos has already had sufficient electricity to meet relevant sustainable development goals. As such, the real trade-off today is between revenues to capital owners in the energy sector and incomes and livelihoods of workers in the agriculture, fisheries, tourism, and other tourism-linked sectors. These redistributive impacts make future hydropower expansion a sensitive political decision to be continued only if the net valuations of these projects from investors’ and society’s standpoint are still positive after integrating the design requirements for sustainable hydropower expansion, as well as the measures to mitigate their societally disruptive impacts.