Academic forum to focus on transboundary impact of dams and governance in Mekong region

politics November 09, 2016 01:00

By Piyaporn Wongruang
The Nation

Political contention, transboundary impacts as well as transboundary management and governance in the Mekong region will be up for serious dialogue and discussion among more than 300 experts, community leaders, as well as government officials from Mekong countries during a three-day forum that kicks off today.



The symposium, organised by top research organisations in the region including CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems, as well as the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies of Chulalongkorn University, aims to find proper academic-based solutions for these challenges. 

The event will see the participants discussing important issues in the region such as the development of mainstream rivers such as the Mekong and Salween.

According to the organisers, more than 750 dams are being planned or already constructed in the region, making water management one of the most critical and politically contentious issues in the Greater Mekong. 

It touches on many of the key challenges facing Thailand and the region today, ranging from climate change, continued economic prosperity and food security to culture and cooperation, according to CGIAR. 

As such, transboundary impact, transboundary governance and existing regional institutional arrangements are serious questions that stakeholders wish to find answers for.

Laos, for instance, has gone ahead with dam projects in the Lower Mekong, with the latest being the Pak Bang Dam near Luang Prabang, which has continued to cause concerns as the Mekong River Commission has not been able to find an agreed upon resolutions among concerned countries. 

The first in the Lower Mekong is the Xayaburi dam in Laos’ north, which underwent the Mekong Regional Commission’s prior consultation process in 2011, but could not achieve any consensus among Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam for the dam’s proceedings. 

It was officially commenced in 2012 though some news reports had said that the preliminary work had begun more than a year earlier, including the construction of a road leading to the dam site.