The Mekong River connects China, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam physically and economically. The river is a lifeline for the entire basin, sustaining economies and livelihoods across the entire region.
The Lower Mekong Basin is entering a critical period in which upcoming development decisions will echo in the economy for decades to come. With looming decisions around hydropower development, industrial expansion, fisheries and general regional economic growth, sectors and countries cannot afford to continue to operate independently. To create a resilient and prosperous economic future for all countries in the Basin, decision makers must understand the connections between water resources planning, and economic development.
The Mekong River in the Economy report aims to reframe the debate around development and river resources management, guiding policy makers towards increased sustainability as well as continued growth. The two are not incompatible, but interdependent. The report lays out the benefits of integrating planning in a series of short narratives, highlighting the major risks and opportunities for different sectors within each Lower Mekong Basin country and illustrating how one actor’s development decisions are felt through the entire river system.
Every country in the region and most economic sectors are interconnected through and interdependent on the Mekong River, and must therefore take part in development planning.
Thailand’s power imports from Laos encourages Lao hydropower development, which in turn impacts livelihoods and fisheries in Northeast Thailand and all other downstream countries. The construction sector in the entire basin depends on sand mining in the river, and this contributes to the sinking of the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, hurting one of the region’s agricultural and aquaculture hubs. The Mekong River in the Economy report explores these connections and more, highlighting the urgent need for an integrated view of development and governance in the region. The future of the Mekong River Basin depends on it.
November 11, 2016
Mekong Water, Food and Energy Forum