The Mekong River Commission’s (MRC) State of the Basin report (SOBR) aims to provide an overall picture of the Mekong River Basin in terms of its ecological health and the social and economic circumstances of its people, and the degree to which the cooperation between riparian countries envisaged under the 1995 Mekong Agreement is enhancing these conditions. In addition, and for the first time, this report also includes reviews of conditions within the upper basin in PR China and Myanmar, both dialogue partners of the MRC, in order to better understand the dynamics of change that are occurring within the basin.
The refreshed strategic planning process adopted by the MRC has facilitated the Member Countries to collaboratively explore ways by which optimal and sustainable development may be achieved and regional benefit sharing promoted. The process follows a five-year planning cycle in which the SOBR is to be a key input for the updating of the Basin Development Strategy. In this planning cycle, the SOBR can be seen as an instrument in: (i) establishing the key issues that the next Basin Development Strategy should address and (ii) measuring the effectiveness of implementing the current Basin Development Strategy (2016-2020).
In this regard, the SOBR is intended to provide (to the extent that data are available) a statement of past trends and current conditions within the basin, which will be updated and compared at five yearly intervals to track changes brought about by the cooperation envisaged under the Mekong Agreement. The SOBR also seeks to highlight significant issues as well as apparent development opportunities that the Member Countries may wish to take up. Further studies, such as future scenario assessments as were undertaken under the BDP Programme in 2011 and more recently under the Council Study in 2017, are likely to be needed thereafter to determine the best way by which to address the issues and opportunities raised in the SOBR.
In contrast to earlier versions of the SOBR published in 2003 and 2010, the 2018 SOBR and future SOBRs are to be structured around a set of indicators, referred to as the MRC Indicator Framework. The framework comprises a hierarchy of water related strategic and assessment indicators supported by monitoring parameters, all of which are intended to provide a full and integrated picture of how the cooperation between countries through the MRC is benefiting and impacting upon the basin and each country. This framework will also be used when future basin-wide scenarios are assessed to ensure a consistent approach to planning and monitoring of basin developments.
At the highest level, the MRC Indicator Framework is structured around five dimensions, being environment, social, economic, climate change and cooperation, within which 15 strategic indicators (see box) have been agreed by the Member Countries to provide policy level decision takers with a concise set of information relating to the development and management conditions within the basin.
Underpinning these strategic indicators, some 55 draft assessment indicators were selected to provide more detailed information and to support the evaluation of the strategic indicators. This report follows this structure and seeks to quantify and/or provide commentary on each of the strategic and assessment indicators.