Dialogue on River Basin Development and Civil Society in the Mekong Region

8-12 November 2002
Ubon Rachathani University, Thailand

The overall aim of the Mekong Dialogue was to stimulate debate and cooperation between civil society, and national and regional policy and decision makers in the Mekong River Basin countries of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Burma, and Yunnan province (China) regarding appropriate models of river basin development and management in the Mekong Region and the role of civil society.

The Dialogue was the first attempt by civil society organisations – or, indeed, by any organisations or institutions in the Mekong Region – to bring civil society organisations and representatives of government and supranational agencies together for discussions about the use and management of the region’s rivers and water resources. Essentially, the Dialogue provided the opportunity for agency representatives to hear the views and concerns of people living in local communities along the rivers of the Mekong basin, and of academics and researchers working in the Mekong Region.

The objectives of this ‘Mekong Dialogue’ were as follows: 

  1. The facilitation of dialogue and cooperation between civil society, and national and regional policy and decision makers in the Mekong River Basin countries on appropriate models of river basin development and the role of civil society.
  2. Presentation of research and case studies on river basin management experience in Thailand (principally the Khong-Chi-Mun project in northeast Thailand), Australia (specifically the Murray-Darling basin in southeast Australia) and the Mekong Region through a series of forums, focusing on ecological issues, water rights and allocation, civil society, and community participation, particularly from a local perspective.
  3. Exploration of the diverse alternatives to centrally-planned large-scale infrastructure development and engineering of rivers by presenting detailed case studies of existing alternative models, methods and approaches to rivers and watersheds.  

Selected papers and documents

Environmental Flows: Ecological Importance, Methods and Adapting Australian Experience to the Mekong
Angela H. Arthington, Centre for Catchment and In-Stream Research, Griffith University

The Khong-Chi-Mun Project: Implications of Large Scale Dam and Irrigation development on Salinity in Northeast Thailand
Iwona Wiszniewski, Project for Ecological Recovery, Bangkok

Privatising and Corporatising Australia's Water
Melita Grant, National Campaigns Coordinator, AID/WATCH

The Thai State and water management: Lessons waiting to be learned
Porntip Boonkrob, Project for Ecological Recovery (PER)

Social and Environmental Impact Assessment of Small-Scale Irrigation Projects
Sengdavanh Phongpaseuth, Project officer, Quaker Service in Laos

Dams and Development: An Introduction to The Report of the World Commission on Dams
Susanne Wong, International Rivers Network

Water Privatisation in Thailand: Situation and Impact
Montree Chantawong, Project for Ecological Recovery

Mun River Declaration, Declaration by Local Communities of the River Basins in Thailand
(translated from Thai to English language)

Statement from H.E Kham Kheoun, Ratanakiri Provincial Governor, Cambodia      


A gathering of Mekong spirits
News & Update in Watershed Vol. 8 No. 2 November 2002-February 2003

Conservationists to raise Mekong issues
The Nation 5 November 2002 


Australian Mekong Resources Centre (AMRC)

Oxfam America/Oxfam Mekong Initiative