Global Water Forum –
The transboundary water crisis in the Lower Mekong Basin has been lingering for almost two decades without any certainty that it will be resolved soon. There have been many attempts at tackling this issue, including forming a regional governance body to facilitate policymaking conversations. However, is this approach adequate for solving this complex problem?
The establishment of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) in 1995 as part of the Mekong Agreement was an institutional approach to deal with conflict over water and fisheries in the Lower Mekong Basin. The MRC aimed to mediate negotiations and discussions among Lower Mekong Basin’ countries, including Thailand, Vietnam, Laos PDR, and Cambodia.
Although the institutional strategy is effective in some ways, the institutional strategy with its top-down approach, might not be sufficient to address this complex issue for several reasons. First, despite there having been systematic studies to find the root causes of this wicked problem, which are often associated with constructions of dams in the Upper and Lower Mekong Basin, climate change, and the strong geopolitical interests in water resources in the region, the actual problems are not only about the ecological and agricultural aspects but also about the socio and cultural practices of people living nearby the Lower Mekong Basin.