During the last 15 years, water availability and flow patterns of the Mekong River Basin have been changing dramatically due to a number of complex factors, including the development of mainstream and tributary hydropower dams; development of different types of largescale land and water use infrastructure projects; and arguably most importantly, from more frequent and increasingly severe impacts of climate change phenomenon12. While the Ayeyawardy-Salween River Basin has not yet seen the same level of impacts from largescale infrastructure developments and landscape change, it has also undoubtedly been increasingly affected by the more frequent phenomenon of climate changes3. Despite some resistances, multiple hydropower and largescale infrastructure development projects are expected to go forward in and around the mainstream courses of the Ayeyawardy and Salween Rivers in the near future.
Despite the dramatic changes observed, scientific and evidence-based knowledge and information about the underlying key change factors and their impacts to the water availability and flows of the major Greater Mekong Subregion river basins are still inconsistent, disconnected, largely speculative, and often not publicly available. To date, there is no existing initiative or platform that consistently helps to gather and synthesize these different types of information and knowledge into one format that all stakeholder groups, especially the affected ones, can access and use for decision making or other action. This perhaps is due to a lack of consensus on protocols and political interests among all the riparian countries and available inclusive technologies. The existing transboundary institutions, initiatives, technologies, and research that do exist are still largely targeted for certain groups such as official agencies and academia, and tend to be political or business-interest based.
Building on existing initiatives, MRC Mekong Transboundary Cooperation, and WB funded Initiative-Mekong IWRM Program, SIP-LMI aims to explore a possibility to enhance coordination and cooperation across additional stakeholder groups by facilitating a dialogue about the idea of an inclusive platform initiative which can generate and share free and reliable real time water and flows data for the whole Basins. Such an idea also aims to help respond to the doubts and multiple questions from stakeholders about emergencies related to climate uncertainty and extreme events that have been happening more frequently and more intensively over time.
Key guiding questions:
The following questions will serve as the foundation for an open and critical dialogue amongst representatives from diverse stakeholder groups. The intent will not be to ‘answer’ each question, but rather to share and gather a variety of perspectives that will inform future discussions and actions.
1. What are different views and perspectives about the demand for “Inclusive platforms for sharing river basin water and flow data”?
2. What are the relevant ideas about existing technologies and initiatives that have potential for contributing to such platforms?
3. What are the diverse opinions on how such platforms should look, with emphasis on taking a participatory approach?
Target session participant groups
- Representatives from key affected groups and water user representatives from major regional river basins.
- Official representatives from Mekong countries.
- Technical water scientists, modellers, project managers, and researchers.
- Hydropower dam operators.
- Water diversion project operators.
- Satellite and remote sensing scientists.
- River basin managers.
- Relevant academic and NGO representatives.
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