Improving Mekong water resources investment and allocation choices
by John Dore, Francois Molle, Louis Lebel, Tira Foran and Kate Lazarus (2010)
The ‘Improving Mekong Water Allocation’ project (M-POWER–CPWF Project PN67) has examined the use of a wide range of decision-support tools, in many decision-making arenas. In doing so, they have sought to better understand decision contexts and political drivers. They have also sought to build the capacity to undertake this type of action research and practical support to decision-making.
The major contributions of PN67 to water governance research and practice are:
- Usefully expanding the conception of water allocation to be: formal and informal interventions in the water cycle that alter the physical distribution of water – in terms of quantity, quality, timing, and sediment load – and associated rewards, risks, rights and responsibilities (4Rs).
- Expanding the understanding of Multi-Stakeholder Platforms (MSPs) and other consensus-building processes, Scenarios and Modeling, Environmental Flows, Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA); and Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) as tools for water allocation decision-making that may be categorised in their emphasis as: discoursive-, engagement-, advocacy-, knowledge- or management-oriented.
- Expanding understanding of the political drivers of water allocation – Mekong institutions, Mekong interests and Mekong discourses.
- Expanding the understanding of water allocation decisions that may be categorised in their emphasis as: framing the institutional arrangements within which other decisions are taken (eg. water law), supplying water (eg. infrastructure investment for a reservoir), or altering the demand for water (eg. pricing).
- Development of an explanatory framework to help make sense of the relationships between decision-making processes, arenas, political drivers, tools of influence, decisions and the desirable impact sought of fair water allocation by society.
- Proactive, constructive engagement in many decision-making or decision-influencing processes, experimenting with ways to improve the fairness of decisions and the institutionalising of constructive practices. This has included engaging with inter-government organisations, governments of Mekong countries, multilateral banks, international donor agencies, hydropower developers in Laos, civil society organisations and research networks.
- Substantial contribution capacity building of Mekong Region research analysts, including the provision of further opportunity in PN67 to six previous recipients of M-POWER Research Fellowships (funded by M-POWER–CPWF PN50).
- Substantial contribution to Mekong Region research via twenty-six (26) research publications, submitted to CPWF as Working Papers, but already moving through the referee process and beginning to appear in international books and journals.
- Another M-POWER research contribution to multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary regional and international cooperation involving 52 researchers from 15 countries, including five Mekong countries.