International Conference on Natural Resources Management and Cooperation Mechanisms in the Mekong Region

16-18 November 2004
United Nations Conference Centre, Bangkok, Thailand

The overall purpose of the Mekong Conference was to stimulate debate, facilitate meaningful exchange, and encourage cooperation between representatives of civil societ and national and regional policy and deciions-makers in the Mekong Region as well as improve understanding between there key parties in seeking innovative and more participatory ways of implementing a just, ecologically sustainable and equitable development path.

More specifically the conference aimed to:

  1. Provide an opportunity for civil society and national and regional policy and decision makers to exchange views and experiences concerning the problems of and solutions to development in the Mekong Region;
  2. Assess both the successes and failures of various projects, programs and policies of past economic development in the Mekong Region and to review the planning and decision making processes and cooperation mechanisms of governments and concerned institutions; and
  3. Promote the search for more effective approaches at national, regional and international levels to ensure a greater role for civil society in official dialogues, forums and negotiating processes. 

The conference was attended by approximately 200 civil society representatives, government officials from the Mekong countries, donor agencies, and intergovernmental agencies, and journalists.

The Conference ended with the “Bangkok Declaration”, which highlighted civil society’s dissatisfaction with the current imbalanced approach to development. The Declaration stated that development has “created serious conflict and undermined rural people’s livelihoods, cultures, and ecosystems” within the Mekong Region and called for a range of changes to facilitate increased participation. Among these is the proposal to create a Mekong People’s Council – a regional mechanism to strengthen civil society networks and participation, promoting alternatives and natural resource management based on local wisdom and cultures.

Selected papers and documents

Mekong Conference Proceedings (pdf, 6.57 MB)

Bangkok Declaration 2004 (pdf)


Mekong commission downplays impact of Chinese dams
Bangkok Post 20 November 2004

Mekong People's Council planned
Bangkok Post 19 November 2004

Mekong Conference Press Release
18 November 2004

Activists Capitalise on Cracks in the Media
IPS 18 November 2004

Economic gains 'not priority'
Bangkok Post 17 November 2004

Asia's Mekong river under threat from China: experts
AFP 16 November 2004