Rapid economic growth sustained in Southeast Asia throughout the new millennium has led to a surge in large-scale infrastructure projects to facilitate industrial productivity and consumption. The state of Sarawak, located along the northern coast of the island of Borneo, is the poorest and most rural state in Malaysia but has long been a focal point for the development of large-scale hydroelectric power. At least six dams are scheduled to be completed in Sarawak by 2020 as part of a high hydro-potential corridor in central Sarawak. These forests have undisputed global and local significance ecologically, biologically and culturally.
In collaboration with local grass-roots renewable project developers and river protection groups we have explored the potential for clean energy alternatives in the state through an integration of modeling tools: (a) modeling long-term utility scale electricity generation alternatives in East Malaysia to determine trade-offs across different technologies; (b) exploring the potential for rural communities in dam-affected areas to satisfy energy access needs using local resources; © demonstrating a rapid assessment method for estimating the impact of mega-projects on biodiversity. Each of these studies provides information useful to the discussion of alternatives and furthers the analysis of green economy costs and benefits. Our published findings have influenced policy discussions at the Ministerial level and a moratorium against the Baram Dam was announced in 2015.
Media coverage of our research and the Baram Dam Moratorium:
The Borneo Project, March 21, 2016 — Fantastic new video on “Development without destruction” in Sarawak.
Mongabay, October 20, 2015 — Indigenous anti-dam activists converge in Sarawak from around the globe
Sarawak Report, September 25, 2015 — BMF Press Statement: Victory, Moratorium on the Baram Dam in Malaysia
The Borneo Post, September 27, 2015 — Small is Beautiful: The People Matter
Media coverage of our June 28, 2015 press conference in Kuching, Sarawak:
The Borneo Post, August 11, 2015 - Adenan wants SEB to light up the rural areas
The Malaysian Insider, July 31, 2015 - Adenan puts Baram dam on hold, agrees to listen to natives’ grouses
Radio Free Sarawak, July 15, 2015 - “Sjotveit should be out”, say Sarawakians
The Malaysian Insider, July 14, 2015 - Stop Baleh dam tender until environmental study scrutinised, says Sarawak PKR
Mongabay.com, July 8, 2015 - Sarawak can meet energy needs without mega-dams: report
The Daily Express — East Malaysia, June 30, 2015 - Sarawak Mega Dam Project Study
The Borneo Post, June 29, 2015 - Borneo May See the End of Mega-Dams
The Malaysian Insider, June 29, 2015 - Activists say Adenan rethinking mega dams policy in Sarawak
The Maylay Mail, June 29, 2015 - CM pulls the brakes on Baram dam until he goes through detailed studies, group claims
International Rivers (2014). Better Solutions Than Megadams for Powering Sarawak, Study Finds. World Rivers Review Vol 29. No 2. Page 5.
Earlier media coverage of this work on energy alternatives to coal and mega-hydropower projects includes this report in TIME Magazine:
February 22, 2011 — Borneo says no to dirty energy
Recent discussions of the relationship between mega-dams and earthquakes has also been receiving local coverage in Borneo: http://www.theborneopost.com/2015/06/28/dams-fault-lines-and-quakes/