Experts from the IUCN Mekong Water Dialogues recently participated in the International Conference on Watershed Management in Chiang Mai, Thailand, to exchange ideas and learn from lessons of watershed management around the Asia-Pacific region, and across the world.
The international conference aimed to engage participants in dialogue on the challenges and solutions for watershed and river basin management. The meeting provided interactive fora for discussion on good practice, governance and economics and financing.
Lively debates, panel discussions and keynote presentations across the three topics, provided the background for a valuable information exchange of activities and approaches undertaken in the Lower Mekong Region.
Dr Robert Mather, Head of IUCN's Southeast Asia Group, facilitated a session on land and water resource challenges facing watershed management. In a YouTube interview, Dr Mather explains the Mekong Water Dialogues as "an innovative approach in the lower Mekong countries, aimed at improving governance in the water sector and related natural resources, through opening up decision-making and policy development processes towards a wider involvement of a broader variety of stakeholders."
The understanding that regional collaboration in watershed and river basin management is vital was firmly established, as the management of watersheds affects downstream regions in cumulative effects beyond national boundaries.
Experiences with watershed and river basin management also showed the importance to employ both top-down and bottom-up approaches and ensure the institutional arrangements and linkages between local level and national/regional levels.
The conference was hosted by the Mekong River Commission (MRC) in collaboration with 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 the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
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