The forum will focus on dialogues surrounding water, food and energy, and will present and debate CPWF-Mekong research results and ideas. It is built around three themes: What has the CPWF achieved through its work in the Mekong Basin? Based on current trajectories, what will the Mekong Basin look like in the future? How do we want the Mekong Basin to look like in the future, and how would we achieve this?
About the Forum
In December, 2011, we held the first Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Discussions here centered on how to develop, manage and operate hydropower in ways that help nations realize their development potential.
The 3rd Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy will continue this constructive dialogue on the relationship between the cost and benefits of water development. The Forum will focus in particular on technical and institutional innovations, which can make hydropower more sustainable and which can ensure that benefits are equitably shared.
The Forum will focus on dialogues surrounding water, food and energy, and will present and debate CPWF-Mekong research results and ideas. It is built around three themes:
-What has the CPWF achieved through its work in the Mekong Basin?
-Based on current trajectories, what will the Mekong Basin look like in the future?
-How do we want the Mekong Basin to look like in the future, and how would we achieve this?
It is a prerequisite to sustainable development of the water resources in the Mekong River Basin to depart from past, polarized debates and to strive instead for constructive dialogues, transparency and accountability in decision-making. One objective of the 3rd Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy is therefore to build on the successes of the 2011 and 2012 forums, and to further foster the open and constructive dialogue between representatives from government, industry, financers, civil society and research institutions.
The Forum is being convened by the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF). Confirmed co-hosts of the event are the Institute of Water Resources Planning, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of the Government of Vietnam; and the Mekong Program on Water, Food and Resilience (M-POWER). This event is a CPWF initiative, funded in part by Australia through AusAID.
Programme and Sessions
Day 1: November 19, 2013
-Session 1: Strengthening the participation of local communities in resettlement, compensation, livelihoods, and grievance: As dam development across the Mekong proceeds and accelerates, it is important to ensure that these are based on participation of and benefit to affected communities, are regulated by safeguards, legislation and policy to ensure that these developments are sustainable in the long run. This session explores communication and knowledge gaps and the ways in which social safeguards and benefits are achieved and how this process can be improved and strengthened. This session will be led by Village Focus International (VFI) and the National University of Laos (NUOL).
-Session 2: Cross Border Dialogue: understanding how to best manage the transboundary benefits and costs of hydropower development within the Water-Food-Energy Nexus: With the significant and rapid development of dams across the Mekong, their potential benefits and costs across borders and within the water-food-energy nexus raises challenges. How can Mekong countries work together to manage these benefits and impacts? What are the security, economic and diplomacy issues associated with regional/transboundary water resources development in Mekong Region? Who are the Key actors? What is the theory and practice of Mekong procedures for notification, consultation, maintenance of flow, transboundary impact assessment, decentralisation and how can these be improved? What are the limits of "legal" recourse vis a vis the need for cooperation and trust? How can we make regional water governance more inclusive and effective? This session will be led by King's College, London (KCL).
-Session 3 & 5: Extending the benefits of hydropower: Clever suggestion or realistic goal? The social costs of hydropower dams and reservoirs are well known. So, too are the benefits of electricity. Less well known are the potential benefits to residents of hydropower watersheds, who might be allowed to share in hydropower revenues or obtain payments for improving land and water management practices. We examine empirical evidence regarding the potential for implementing benefit sharing programs and payments for ecosystem services in the Mekong Region. This session will be led by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI).
-Sessions 4 & 6: M-POWER Solutions for Mekong Region Governance: The M-POWER-CPWF Fellowships program awarded 60 fellowships across the Mekong Region. The initiative has focused on governance, and this session explores what the key messages from all of this work are, and what they can teach us about governing the water resources of the Mekong Region? This session will be led by the Mekong Program on Water, Environment and Resilience (M-POWER).
Special Session: Learning about Hydropower Governance.
-The Knowledge Reservoir: The Knowledge Reservoir will be an interactive and dynamic space where Forum participants will converge to explore CPWF project and partner materials, publications and outputs in a non-traditional conference setting. The event will be accompanied by cocktails and finger food.
Day 2: November 20, 2013
-Session 7: 'Livelihoods restoration' strategies for dam development: It is by no means easy to resettle people to make way for dam development. This session considers technical solutions that can contribute to the livelihoods of resettled communities, and opening up new opportunities for them. This session will be led by WorldFish and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI).
-Session 8: Gender, hydropower impacts and safeguards: Like any other large-scale intervention, dam development affects different groups of people in different ways. How do dams affect the relationships between men and women? And what can be done to ensure that these developments can contribute towards improving gender relations in affected communities? This session will be led by Oxfam Australia and the National University of Laos (NUOL).
-Session 9: Managing the impacts of dams across cascades: Along river reaches where there are cascades of dams, how can these be collectively managed to maximise benefits from them? What kinds of benefits might be generated, and what are the possible positive impacts of these? This session will be led by the International Center for Environmental Management (ICEM) and the Institute for Water Resources Planning (IWRP).
-Session 10: Private sector policies for contributing to environmental and social sustainability: Many dam developers in the Mekong have social and environmental policies; many have implemented successful social and environmental policies and strategies. What can different dam developers learn from each other in the implementation of these policies, and why do they make sense to pursue? This session will be led by the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF).
-Session 11 & 13: The basins of the future: planning and managing basins for sustainable tomorrow: What will the Mekong look like in the future? How will it be managed? What will the hydro-politics of the basin look like? Will countries cooperate over water resources, or will tensions arise? How would the Mekong like to look? This session will be led by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Mekong River Commission (MRC).
-Session 12 & 14: Alternative electricity sources and planning for the Mekong: Hydropower is cheap and produces very few green house gases; but large dams also have significant social and environmental problems. Should the Mekong consider additional or alternative energy sources? Can these alternatives produce as much electricity as large-scale hydro, and at the same or better price? What are the best alternative energy options, and why are these the best ones? This session will be led by the International Center for Environmental Management (ICEM), and the National University of Laos (NUOL).
Day 3: November 21, 2013
-Session 15: Better dams for food and livelihoods: Can dams be operated in ways that address livelihoods goals without sacrificing electricity generation? In what ways can reservoirs be managed to increase food production without sacrificing electricity generation? This session presents research results and debates their relevance to dam management and operation in the Mekong. This session will be led by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI).
-Session 16: Processes of catchment management: All over the Mekong, river basin organizations or committees are being established, usually with the aim of implementing integrated water resource management (IWRM). But its application for catchment management is a relatively novel approach within the Mekong basin. In this session, a panel discussion will be held about catchment-level strategies for managing water resources. In addition, to highlight its complexity, a debate will be held on the pros and cons of IWRM. This session will be led by Hatfield Consultants and Chiang Mai University (CMU).
-Session 17: Governance, institutions and decision-making about dams: Making decisions about dams is no easy business. Thousands of variables need to be considered, hundreds of interests addressed, design features need to be assessed, contracts negotiated, resettlement planned, EIAs and SIAs need to be implemented, etc. How can decision-making and associated institutions be crafted to best address this complexity? This session will be led by King's College, London (KCL) and the Mekong Program on Water, Environment and Resilience (M-POWER).
-Session 18: Understanding changes to water and food at the local level through thaibaan research: How do local people experience changes to their food and water resources? Drawing on the experience of an innovative CPWF project, implemented across three Mekong countries, and using a participatory research methodology called 'thaibaan', this session will explore how small communities experience and respond to change. This session will be lead by the Lao Water Resources Network (LWRN).
-Session 19: Advancing Sustainability in the Mekong Region: the role of Assessment Tools, Standards and Safeguards: The purpose of this session is to discuss methods and approaches to advancing the sustainability of the hydropower sector in the Mekong region. The session will draw on two assessment tools piloted, the HSAP and RSAT as well as other standards and safeguards being applied or which have potential in the region. A diversity of views is envisaged from government, private sector, financier, and practitioners and regional networks. Specifically we will: (a) Discuss how sustainability is addressed/considered by different stakeholder groups and what opportunities and challenges exist. (b) Provide examples of practical application or efforts using different assessment tools and approaches. (c) Explore options for advancing sustainability. This session will be led by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Mekong River Commission (MRC) and the Mekong Program on Water, Environment and Resilience (M-POWER).
-Session 20: Is the Nexus Secure â€¦ and for Whom? Unpacking Nexus Discourses on Food, Water, and Energy Security in South and Southeast Asia: Drawing from an ongoing comparative research project on Laos-Thailand and Nepal-India and the conceptual framework of "dynamic sustainabilities", this panel will ask critical questions of the relationship between different types of water storage and the Water-Energy-Food-Societal nexus, and seeks to unpack how discourses of food, water and energy security, which are represented by actors with divergent interests, may lead to particular development pathways whilst precluding others. This session will be led by the Nepal Water Conservation Foundation, the Institute of Development Studies (UK), and the Faculty of Political Science at Chulalongkorn University.
Who can participate in the Forum?
Participation in the forum is by invitation only.
Why a forum on Water, Food and Energy in the Mekong region?
The Mekong River is among the richest rivers in the world, both with regard to water volume as well as biodiversity. It plays a central role in the lives of the more than 300 million people who live in the region — its Lao and Thai names meaning literally "Mother of Water".
The river is an important source of livelihoods: for centuries, it has yielded fisheries, irrigation for agriculture, silt for agriculture, water for households and as a major transportation route into the southeast Asian peninsular. Today, the countries of the Mekong are undergoing dramatic change and rapidly developing. This, in turn, demands considerable amounts of energy to achieve, including electricity. Up and down the length of the Mekong, hydropower is being developed to meet this growing demand.
How, then, are the demands on water for food to be reconciled with water for energy? This represents a 'nexus' (i.e. a connection or series of connections linking two or more things), with which the CPWF is committed to exploring and understanding.
What will we aim to achieve during this Forum?
We aim to move towards a shared understanding of the relationships between water development, food and energy in the Mekong region; to better understand technical and institutional innovations, which can make water resources development more sustainable; and to further strengthen the dialogue and exchange between representatives from governments, industry, financers, civil society and research institutions.
The forum will be conducted in English.
Malichanh Srithirath, CPWF Mekong Program Officer
For media and communication
Terry Clayton (firstname.lastname@example.org)