Mekong Water Governance: A Space for Dialogue: People, Perceptions, and Principled Outcomes

Aim Of Project:

A Space for Dialogue: People, Perceptions, and Principled Outcomes in the Governance of the Mekong seeks to promote inclusive, accountable, and effective governance subsystems in the Mekong River governance regime and propose policy and behavioural changes necessary to achieve development, equity and sustainability.

Among the rivers in the Greater Mekong region, the Mekong has the most intense development of hydropower and economic activity. This complicated competition over water resources and the hydro-political interplay of global, regional, and local powers makes a negotiated approach to governance critical.

The dominant narrative today is that the Upper Reaches hold little accountability to downstream countries, leading to trans-boundary conflict. But unequal distribution of development gains exists within countries as well, and marginalised communities often suffer from the effects of development and face threats of restricted livelihood, environmental damage, cultural loss, and eviction. There is conflict between development goals (e.g., industrialisation and electrification versus secure rights and livelihoods) and between the interests of communities, the private sector, and governments. There is a potential collision course if water governance shortfalls go unresolved.

The project will systematically study and provide a governance map of the Mekong River Basin at local, state, and international levels; assess the current state of governance according to emergent standards; construct a locally responsive, community-informed definition of good governance; and explore ways to expand and improve upon the space for dialogue and inclusiveness and accountability of governance processes. 

Lead Researcher:
Leong Ching
Research Cluster:
Water Governance and Reform