Nestled in the heart of Nakhon Phanom province, the flourishing bank of the majestic Mekong River reflects a remarkable tapestry of cultures and ecosystems. The river is pivotal to the livelihood of over 326 million individuals spanning six states, weaving an intricate dependency fabric that spans a gargantuan distance of 4,880 kilometres. However, the remarkable tapestry lies under the massive spectre of climate change. In response to this major concern, representative delegates from the six nations convening on this spindling river course have voiced resolute commitment towards climate change mitigation.
On September 10-13, the Office of the National Water Resources (ONWR), the face of Thailand at the frontline, engaged in momentous meetings for the 3rd Lancang-Mekong Water Resource Cooperation Forum and the 18th World Water Congress, held in Beijing. Accompanying Thailand were esteemed delegates from its fellow Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (MLC) member countries of Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam.
According to Surasee Kittimonthon, the esteemed Secretary-General of ONWR, these groundbreaking meetings were a platform for intellectual exchange and a showcase of latest technological advancements. Progress reports on current projects subsidized by the MLC special fund further dominated the discussions. More significantly, these global conferences presented a remarkable opportunity to gauge the evolving perspectives on Mekong-Lancang water management cooperation.
Thailand, serving as a vanguard for change, vehemently emphasized the necessity for transnational collaboration in water resource management. Surasee Kittimonthon advocated for the incorporation of all societal entities, including government bodies, private and nonprofit sectors, as well as women and youth-led organizations, into this crucial dialogue. This broad spectrum of engagement, he argued, would be instrumental in combatting the mounting implications of climate change, including devastating phenomena like flooding, droughts, and surging demands for freshwater.
Surasee Kittimonthon further unveiled Thailand’s proposition for a holistic water management blueprint, rooted in the vision of the nation’s long-term water management masterplan. The pioneering agenda, he contended, was designed with an unflagging dedication to sustainable water management in alignment with the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In an unprecedented consensus, the MLC member countries consented to embark on the initial phase of a joint study between the Mekong River Commission and MLC. The groundbreaking initiative aims to cultivate an accessible data hub detailing reservoir operations on the Mekong River. This initiative presents possibilities for informed decision-making regarding water flow and release, offering viable solutions to minimize the impacts of drastic climate variations on the communities dotting the river’s downstream course.
Surasee Kittimonthon’s statement culminated with the announcement of a decisive plan to establish a joint expert group tasked with overseeing the studies. A comprehensive Lancang-Mekong survey is also in the pipeline, with a mission to examine the rippling impacts of these dynamisms on communities that call the Mekong riverbank their home.