Mekong Transboundary Dialogue
The Mekong River flows 4,900 km across six countries from China’s Tibetan Plateau to the South China Sea. It is one of the largest and most bio-diverse rivers in the world, providing rich ecosystems and abundant natural resources to the riverine countries and their people. It is important to manage the resources beyond national boundaries as water, fish and sediment, all flow from one country to another. However, governing the river across borders has been a challenge for the Mekong countries due to differing national interests and priorities.
Transboundary dialogue can help reduce tension and increase cooperation among countries. The Mekong River Commission (MRC) supports its four member countries in the Lower Mekong Basin – Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam – to enhance transboundary cooperation through the Mekong Integrated Water Resources Management Project (M-IWRMP). The project promotes IWRM practices of coordinated planning and management with the application of MRC’s procedural rules, known as Procedures, and technical tools on water use planning, data sharing and flow monitoring.
The project originally began in 2009 with three inter-linked regional, transboundary and national components to increase IWRM-based water cooperation among the four countries at both basin-wide and local levels. The regional component, funded by the Australian government, was completed in 2015 after it advanced the application of the MRC Procedures and their technical guidelines and developed a package of modeling tools for basin-scale water utilisation.
While the transboundary component focuses on bilateral water cooperation, the national component supports each member country to improve governance mechanisms and build technical capacity to carry out coordinated planning and utilisation of water within the national boundaries. The World Bank finances both the transboundary and national components.