Two of Dong Nai hydropower dams cancelled due to environmental concerns, Vietnam

Thanks to effective lobbying by civil society groups, independent experts and governmental actors, the dams were cancelled and environmental justice could be served to a unique ecological, social and cultural region.

The Dong Nai dams no. 6 and 6a, located on the Dong Nai River, were planned as part of a series of dams proposed to cover Vietnam’s growing demand for energy. However, the Dong Nai River has always been a crucial source of water and life for the surrounding villages and ecosystems, such as the Cat Tien National Park, which received UNESCO’s recognition as a Biopshere Reserve Zone in 2011. Being a unique place of historical richness and cultural tradition, providing home to more than 1,700 species of rare plants and 700 bird and mammals species, many of them endangered, the The Cat Tien National Park is one of the six biggest biosphere reserves in the world [1;2].
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Basic Data
NameTwo of Dong Nai hydropower dams cancelled due to environmental concerns, Vietnam
ProvinceDong Nai Province
SiteCat Tien National Park
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Water Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Specific CommoditiesLand
Project Details and Actors
Project Details
The dam would have large negative impacts on Cat Tien National Park, which was recognized by UNESCO as a world biosphere reserve on June 28, 2011 [2]. The park covers almost 1,000,000 ha and spans across the provinces of Dong Nai, Lam Dong, Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc and Tay Ninh [7]. Around 450,000 people live in the biosphere Reserve [7].
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Project Area (in hectares)1,954ha, later reduced to 372.23ha reservoir size
Level of Investment (in USD)unknown
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected PopulationN/A
Start Date19/11/2002
End Date09/2013
Company Names or State EnterprisesDuc Long Gia Lai Group Joint Stock Company from Vietnam - infrastructure development, hydroelectricity
Relevant government actorsPrime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung; Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment; Provinical government of Don Nai province
International and Financial InstitutionsUNESCO - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersVietnam River Network (VRN); International Rivers; IUCN; UNESCO
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Chau Ma and M’Nong ethnic minority
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Potential: Other Health impacts
OtherPotential increases of water-borne diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
OtherPotential loss of a man and biosphere reserve park, and related revenue losses from tourism, etc.
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseInstitutional changes
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Project cancelled
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.The project was stopped before construction started, due to its environmental concerns.
Sources and Materials

Document No. 1483/CP-CN dated 19 November 2002, approving the Dong Nai 6 dam

Vietnam Biodiversity Law, No. 20/2008/QH12, 2009
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[1] International Rivers, online (10/8/2013): "Environmental Concerns Prompt Vietnam to Cancel Two Dams" (accessed 14/07/2015)
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[2] Tuoi tre News online (29/11/2012): "Dong Nai hydro projects should be stopped: UNESCO" (accessed 14/07/2015)
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[3] Toui Tre News online (30/09/2013): "Premier agrees to cancel 2 controversial hydro projects" (accessed 14/07/2015)
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[6] online (04/10/2013): "Government shuts down Vietnam's Dong Nai 6, 6A hydropower projects" (accessed 14/07/2015)
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[7] Viet Nam News online (20/05/2013): "Dong Nai against planned dams" (accessed 14/07/2015)
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[8] ThanhNien News online (01/11/2013): "Cat Tien gets rid of Dam-ocles's sword" (accessed 14/07/2015)
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[9] Vietnam Business Forum online (27/11/2012): "Dong Nai 6 and Dong Nai 6A Hydropower Plants: Solution Needed For Benefit Harmonisation" (accessed 14/07/2015)
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[10] online (16/10/2011): "Dong Nai 6 and 6A hydro-power projects: Where is the truth?" (accessed 14/07/2015)
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[4] online (18/04/2013): "VRN petitions to reject Dong Nai 6 and Dong Nai 6A hydropower plant projects" (accessed 14/07/2015)
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[5] online (03/10/2013): "Vietnam decides to scrap 2 hydropower dams on environment concerns" (accessed 14/07/2015)
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Other Documents

Experts assessing the dam impacts Source:
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Family living by the river Source:
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Cat Tien National Park Source:
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Meta Information
ContributorA. Scheidel (ICTA-UAB)
Last update16/07/2015