The Mekong River Commission (MRC) says it will launch its joint study with the Beijing-based Lancang Mekong Water Resource Cooperation Centre at a meeting in Bangkok later this month.
Approved by the MRC (comprising Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam) and its dialogue partners (China and Myanmar) in September last year, the study by all six Mekong countries will examine changing hydrological conditions across the basin.
In a statement Tuesday, the MRC said the study's launch would coincide with a regional stakeholder forum in Bangkok on June 29. A central topic of the forum will be how to improve sharing information and coordinating dam activities to provide more benefits and minimise downstream impacts.
“In addition, participants will be encouraged to offer feedback and recommendations on MRC steps to enhance management of transboundary fisheries, as well as its efforts in providing flood and drought early warnings,” the statement said.
The MRC said government officials from the six countries would take part in the forum along with diplomats and hydropower project owners, operators and investors as well as international development partners, researchers, activists and community representatives.
The MRC Secretariat in Vientiane and the centre in Beijing have agreed to work together to improve information sharing and joint activities since 2019 — when the Mekong recorded unprecedented low flows due to drought and hydrological activities upriver.
Carried out in two stages, the joint study will examine adaptation strategies as well as patterns of hydrological conditions. The first stage starts this year and is expected to yield “actionable recommendations,” the statement said. The stage will come during 2023-2024.
According to the Global Climate Risk Index, Mekong countries such as Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam are among the world’s top 10 countries exposed to significant climate change risks.
MRC data has shown that drought in the basin increased in frequency and severity between 2009–2011, 2012–2013, 2015–2016 and 2019–2020.
These events have severely hit rural livelihoods, curtailing productivity and resulting in huge economic losses. In addition, the river’s hydrological regime has changed with the development of hydropower cascades in the Mekong basin and climate change.
Source: Agency Kampuchea Press