EarthRights supports the Mekong Legal Network (MLN), an independent group of experienced legal professionals and civil society leaders from the Mekong region. The MLN grew out of our Mekong Legal Advocacy Institute (MLAI). Participants in MLN include professionals in Myanmar, Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam, as well as other international supporters who are committed to reducing earth rights abuses.

MLN is an invitation-only network that moderates its own membership. It meets approximately twice per year for professional development and to share skills and experiences. MLN creates a safe space to strategize about regional investments, transboundary legal mechanisms and Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA), and to promote access to justice in the Mekong region. It also is an opportunity for earth rights defenders from across the region to share the challenges of working with communities in the field of public interest law and strategize about how to work safely and securely.

Environmental Impact Assessments

We are working directly to strengthen communities by creating opportunities for campaigners and lawyers to understand and design their own campaigns around Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) processes in the Mekong region. EarthRights and MLN have collaborated to produce an original manual for EIA practitioners in the six Mekong countries, which specifically targets government decision-makers, investors, lawyers, and other professionals working on the implementation of EIAs. The result is this unique, practical guide for implementing EIAs in the Mekong that EarthRights and MLN can disseminate to relevant EIA stakeholders, especially project-affected communities across the region.

The manual for Environmental Impact Assessment in the Mekong Region outlines and analyzes each of the EIA systems in the six Mekong countries, including common themes and approaches. There is a gap between law on paper and in practice in the Mekong countries. This manual, combined with our integrated approach of training, campaigning, legal advocacy, and networking, is an important step towards closing this gap.

The First Edition is the result of this period of collaboration with MLN. We have tried to ensure accuracy and completeness. However, we also recognize that there is always room for improvement. We welcome any feedback. Our aim is to provide the materials and continue the existing discussion on the value of EIA in the region and how EIA can be improved.

This First Edition is aimed at EIA practitioners, including policymakers, civil society leaders, lawyers, EIA consultants, and project proponents. We hope that, by understanding the legal obligations under national law, all stakeholders will work together to pursue constant improvement in the EIA process across the Mekong region.