Participants of the IUCN led Mekong Water Dialogues joined the International Conference on Watershed Management in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, from 9-11 March 2011, to exchange ideas and learn from lessons of watershed management around the region and across the world.
The conference aimed to engage in dialogue and debate on the challenges of and solutions for better watershed and river basin management. It provided a highly interactive forum for discussion of Good Practices, Governance and Economics and Financing in watershed and river basin management.
Lively debates, panel discussions and keynote presentations across the three topics provided the background for a valuable information exchange of activities and approaches undertake in the Lower Mekong Region.
Dr Robert Mather, Head of Southeast Asia Group, IUCN, facilitated the session on Land and Water Resource Challenges Facing Watershed Management and participated in a panel discussion assessing the adequacy of existing and planned governance mechanisms at the river basin level.
The understanding that regional collaboration in watershed and river basin management is critical was firmly established as the management of watersheds affects downstream areas, the cumulative effects of which in the Mekong River context potentially can lead to effects beyond national boundaries.
Experiences with watershed and river basin management also showed that it is important to employ both top-down and bottom-up approaches and to ensure the institutional arrangements and linkages between the local level and the national/regional level.
The outcome of conference discussions also demonstrated the importance of considering the linkages between land and water in managing the natural resources and the importance of integration across sectors, disciplines, institutions and scale.
The conference was hosted by the Mekong River Commission (MRC) in collaboration with the following co-conveners: Asian Development Bank (ADB), Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF), German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), International Water management Institute (IWMI), Mekong Program on Water Environment and Resilience (M-POWER), United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).