The Cambodian government’s decision to reject plans for a resort complex next to Angkor Wat stands in stark contrast to another project threatening one of Southeast Asia’s UNESCO World Heritage sites. The Luang Prabang dam in Laos poses huge risks to the ancient capital, and the case of Cambodia’s “Angkor Lake of Wonder” may offer advocates a way forward.
In Laos, the push for hydropower near the ancient capital of Luang Prabang shows that plans to dam the Mekong River basin are already going awry. But rather than learning from its missteps, the government—with the help of Thai and Vietnamese developers—is going ahead with a dam that could endanger a UNESCO World Heritage city.
The new China-Laos railway is spanning the Mekong River and drilling through mountains. So far, many local Laotians are seeing more trouble than benefits from the project.