The Lancang-Mekong River Basin, which flows through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Multilateral cooperation in the sustainable development of international river basins has been considerably hindered by insufficient recognition of the attitudes and concerns about water resource exploitation held by politicians and the public in riparian countries. ... [Show full abstract] This study used media reporting from 1971 to 2020 to combine sentiment analysis, dynamic topic mining, and statistical analysis to quantitatively examine the dynamics and drivers of attitudes towards Lancang-Mekong hydropower development.
New hydrological insights for the region
Reporting in affected countries underwent five stages: positive support but low actual participation in hydropower development (1971–1991), increasing concerns and active participation by most countries (1992–1994), an emerging negative attitude in downstream countries (1995–2008), spreading opposition by downstream countries (2009–2015), and the coexistence of cooperation and conflict (2016–2020). Media reports from upstream countries (i.e., China and Laos) were positive regarding hydropower development; downstream countries opposed hydropower and prioritized the negative impacts of dam construction. International shifts in attitude were dominated by vulnerabilities to extreme weather and affected by major geopolitical events, including local wars, interference from extraterritorial forces, and established regional alliances. This knowledge will strengthen international water use cooperation in light of global climate change and complex geopolitics.