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Mekong Basin Still Facing Challenges

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The Mekong River Commission has released its 2022 Annual Report, which chronicles tangible improvements across the Mekong River Basin, achieved through the joint efforts and “water diplomacy” of Member Countries Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam, and their partners.

Among the most significant achievements last year were new guidelines for hydropower dam design, and transboundary environmental impact to facilitate fish movement and sediment flow; new navigation rules to foster greater river safety; innovative tools to better forecast flood and drought; a new monitoring station on the northern tip of the Basin to quickly detect water changes; and the launch of a Joint Study – together with the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation – to develop a shared upstream-downstream understanding of the changing water flow regime, which is seen as a prerequisite for more effective cooperation.

Despite the positive news, including rainfall that’s 40 percent higher than in 2021 and 2022, water quality, and better socio-economic living standards across the region, the Basin continues to face significant challenges. Dr. Anoulak Kittikhoun, the CEO of the MRC Secretariat, cites five “troubling” trends: changing flow regimes, nourishing sediment, salinity intrusion, plastic pollution, and flood and drought exacerbated by climate change.

According to Kittikhoun, these challenges are transboundary by nature, requiring continued cooperation to tackle them. This includes the need for data sharing, negotiation, compromise, and openness to both regional and international partners.

“There is ‘one Mekong’,” Kittikhoun writes. “Ideally, we should embrace a Basin-wide approach to solution-seeking and decision-making, for everything from hydropower design and river monitoring to navigation rules and irrigation infrastructure.”

Read the full article HERE.

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