From local watershed management to integrated river basin management at national and transboundary levels
Authors: Bach H, Clausen TJ, Dang TT, Emerton L, Facon T, Hofer T, Lazarus K, Muziol C, Noble A, Schill P, Sisouvanh A, Wensley C, Whiting L (2011)
In the coming years, the Mekong Region will face several major challenges with implications for the environment and the livelihoods of local communities. These challenges range from hydropower development plans, irrigation and transport expansion, to the impacts of climate change. In the light of these future and current challenges, the Mekong River Commission in collaboration with a number of regional organisations hosted an International Conference on Watershed Management in Chiang Mai, Thailand in March 2011.
During the conference, delegates from local, national, and international settings discussed the current level of knowledge, lessons learned and good practices in watershed management. Improved watershed governance is an important component in the region’s response to the challenges it is facing.
Therefore, CPWF Mekong and M-POWER – in collaboration with IUCN -- organized conference sessions, which explored the concept of good watershed governance. The conclusions reached include that good watershed management starts with the recognition that watersheds are the fundamental hydrological unit within a river basin, where diversity and ecosystem functions can be sustained. Another important acknowledgement was that given the region’s biophysical, socio-cultural and historical diversity, governance solutions need to be both locally and nationally appropriate to resolve these complex land and water issues.
As a result of the conference, a technical report was published on watershed management. The report synthesizes the discussions from the conference, and it provides recommendations to tackle future challenges in watershed management. Some recommendations include applying adaptive management approaches, to collect scientific data for policy-making use, to scale up successful institutional arrangements from the local to the regional and national scale, and finally to consider new incentive and funding measures to enhance the financial sustainability of watershed management.
CPWF Mekong and M-POWER participated in the conference and contributed to the report as part of our ongoing work to improve hydropower in the Mekong region. Much more of the discussions were captured in these videos: