The Mekong Basin perspective - Danish Water Forum

The Mekong Basin perspective - Danish Water Forum

Transboundary Water Cooperation Workshop

“Sharing benefits from Transboundary Water Management”

20-22 January 2010, Vientiane, Lao PDR

Benefit-Sharing in Basin

Development Planning in the

Mekong Basin

Pham Thanh Hang, BDP Programme Coordinator


Transboundary Water Cooperation Workshop

“Sharing benefits from Transboundary Water Management”

20-22 January 2010, Vientiane, Lao PDR

Presentation Outline

1. Basin development planning in the

Lower Mekong Basin

2. Benefit-sharing in the BDP process

3. Lessons learned so far

Transboundary Water Cooperation Workshop

“Sharing benefits from Transboundary Water Management”

20-22 January 2010, Vientiane, Lao PDR

Basin Development

Planning in the Lower

Mekong Basin


Why Basin Development Plan

The 1995 Mekong Agreement:

• Promote and coordinate in development of the full potential for

sustainable benefits….To formulate a Basin Development Plan

(BDP) to serve as the blueprint to categorize and prioritize

projects…(Article 2).

• Protect the environment, natural resources and ecological balance

from harmful development” (Article 3),

• Supported by water utilization procedures and monitoring

system (Article 6&26)

• Follow the principles of:

‣ Cooperation on the basis of sovereign equality and

territorial integrity (Article 4)

‣ Right of each riparian country to develop a certain

category of projects (i.e. those for notification) or other

projects through consultation or agreement with other

countries (Article 5)

The essence of BDP

A joint basin development planning process that:

• Brings proposed national developments into an

integrated basin-wide assessment to define

opportunities and risks

• Facilitates the joint determination of appropriate

level(s) of development that is sustainable and

brings mutual benefits to riparian states and their


• Ensures that national planning, governance

processes and decision making integrate basin

perspectives; and

• Ensures the participation of relevant stakeholders

and the consideration of their views in decision



The BDP planning cycle


The “Development space”

The “Development Space” is:

‣ NOT just a volume of water that

can be used

‣ BUT a space for development

and management of water and

related resources, shaped by

sustainable boundaries , e.g.

acceptable transboundary

impacts derived from the scenario


• Countries can work and plan within the ‘Development

Space’, supported by Strategic Guidance, and a package

of IWRM guidelines

• MRC monitors, facilitates and periodically evaluates


IWRM-based Basin Development


Reconfirm the long-term goals and

specific objectives of basin

development and management;

Provide a long term view of how the

proposed developments in the LMB

can be achieved in a sustainable

way within the jointly defined

“Development Space”; and

Provide a relational IWRM planning

and management framework for the

basin, national and sub-basin levels


Implementation of the Strategy

• With the MRC Council approval, the Member Countries will

develop measures to bring the basin perspectives within the

Strategy into the national planning, decision making and

governance processes, in a way that suits national policies and


• This will be a substantial part of the core river basin management

function that the MRC is moving forwards together with

increasingly decentralized actions by Member Countries

• In this way, the countries will be able to bring existing and

emerging national perspectives into future updates of the


• This creates a ‘loop of ownership’ between MRCS and the

four countries and ensures that regular updates of the

Strategy will be fully informed and based on current and

emerging trends and issues


Benefits of the Strategy

The “Development Space” agreed by the LMB countries, within

which national plans and projects can be considered, builds

confidence that water can be allocated and used without

significant unforeseen impacts

• Helps attract funding for projects, since project developers

are provided some certainty as to the water resources

management processes against which proposals will be judged

• Builds synergies in water and related resources planning at

sub-basin, national and basin levels

• Provides incentives for a more strategic implementation of the

agreed water utilization procedures to benefit riparian countries

and their people.


Transboundary Water Cooperation Workshop

“Sharing benefits from Transboundary Water Management”

20-22 January 2010, Vientiane, Lao PDR

Benefit-sharing in the

BDP process


At the Basin level

• Assess how the proposed national developments, defined by the

riparian countries, would achieve the objectives of sustainability and

mutual benefits - through the assessment of basin-wide

development scenarios

• Optimize basin-wide synergies between water resource

developments in the Upper and Lower Mekong Basin: i.e. storage

dams in China and in LMB tributaries to facilitate irrigation

development in the LMB, and thus allowing for the protection of the

natural dry season flow regime

• Facilitate the process for Member Countries to jointly analyze the

benefits-costs of developments (comprehensively in hydrological,

environmental, economic and social aspects), and negotiate by

finding the “middle ground” to which all stakeholders are prepared

to agree

• Broad based agreement on a scenario will be the basis for an

agreed vision and overall outcome – the IWRM-based Basin

Development Strategy


Valuing benefits and costs –

basin-wide development scenario


• All water and related sectors

are considered in the

formulation and assessment of

basin-wide water resources

development scenarios

• Nine possible scenarios under

four situations: 1) Baseline, 2)

Definite future, 3)

Foreseeable future, and 4)


Sectors considered

Water supplies

(domestic and industrial uses)

• Irrigated agriculture

• Hydropower

• Fisheries

• Navigation, transport, river


• Flood management and


• Tourism and recreation


Watershed management

• Environment, including water

demand of ecosystem


The Scenarios

The scenarios

have been

defined in

response to each

riparian country’s

suggestions and

critical issues of

the LMB

Effects of climate

change will be

investigated also

The assessment criteria

The assessment

criteria include 12

specific development

objectives within


environmental and

social spheres

A total of 37

indicators have been

identified within the


In addition, equity is


Transboundary Water Cooperation Workshop

“Sharing benefits from Transboundary Water Management”

20-22 January 2010, Vientiane, Lao PDR

Overview of assessment approach

The key aspects of the assessment approach are:

Founded on the principles of integrated water resources

management, recognising the inter-dependence of the different


Building on the rich body of acquired knowledge of the natural

resource system and a structured approach to identifying and

assessing the key issues that will affect strategic decision-taking

Dealing with uncertainties in an open and transparent manner

and understanding their development implications

Participation by public and non-public stakeholders at the basin,

national and sub-basin levels


Hydrological changes and physical impacts caused by interventions are

assessed for their environmental and economic impacts and thence their social


Each of the linkages

will be taken into

account in the

assessment process


7 th Meeting of the Regional Technical Working Group

13-14 October 2009

Chiang Rai, Thailand

Spatial integration

Using GIS as a means of integrating the different spatial

impacts associated with hydrological, eco-system, land use

and administrative boundaries

Land use, cover, water bodies,

wetlands and topography – from

existing MRC mapping cover

Extent of flooding and salinity

intrusion – boundaries

determined by the DSF

Irrigation areas – based on BDP

irrigation database aggregated

to district

Dams and hydropower – point

data as available in MRC


Districts will

be the basic

admin unit

Agricultural data – aggregated

or distributed to districts

Fisheries productivity data -

distributed by land and water

body types based on provincial

etc data relevant to different


Population numbers and

characteristics – aggregated or

distributed to districts + “hot


Economic data - aggregated or

distributed to districts (except



Transboundary Water Cooperation Workshop

“Sharing benefits from Transboundary Water Management”

20-22 January 2010, Vientiane, Lao PDR

Uncertainties about future conditions

The proposed assessment methodologies must deal effectively

future changes outside the water sector which will affect the

magnitude of impacts and about which opinions may be divided

Methodology generally will be to assess impacts upon the current

landscape and socio-economic conditions (the base case) …

… and thereafter to state clearly the assumptions about how

conditions may change that would affect the magnitude of the

impact (eg economic growth prompting decreased direct dependency upon water

resources etc)

Different assumptions can be tested to see how they would

influence strategic choices


Transboundary Water Cooperation Workshop

“Sharing benefits from Transboundary Water Management”

20-22 January 2010, Vientiane, Lao PDR

Examples of scenario assessment

results – beyond sharing water quantity

The 20-Year Plan Scenario is beneficial to each of the LMB

countries and perhaps sustainable from a basin perspective, but

threatens the food security of poor people, particularly in Lao PDR

and Cambodia, who live from capture fisheries. It also reduces


The water resources developments in the 20-Year Plan Scenario

offer opportunities for aquaculture in Cambodia and Lao PDR, as is

currently demonstrated in the Vietnam Delta and Northeast

Thailand, where water resources development has considerably

increased the benefits from fisheries. However, successful

aquaculture requires access to land, water and capital, which those

vulnerable poor people don’t have.


Transboundary Water Cooperation Workshop

“Sharing benefits from Transboundary Water Management”

20-22 January 2010, Vientiane, Lao PDR

The Process

Build ownership and “learning by doing” by Member Countries

and MRCS in defining the scenarios, assessment framework

and tools

Capacity building for countries in need to fully understand the

technical approach, assessment results and to be able to

analyse benefits/costs to the country and its people

Participatory process at local and national levels to discuss the

scenario assessment results

Sub-scenarios and/or additional assessments to address

country specific concerns coming out from national discussions

MRC-facilitated regional dialogue and negotiations for win-win

solution and/or mechanisms for trade-offs (if required)


Benefit sharing at the

National level

• Scenario assessment and its distributional analysis

facilitates discussion on synergy building between

sectors and benefit sharing among population groups

• A package of basin-wide IWRM guidelines supports

integrated sector development and management

• Support the initiatives for benefit-sharing that are

starting in Member Countries i.e. Viet Nam

• Promote regional joint learning, moving towards

regional benefit-sharing mechanisms


Other benefit-sharing in BDP

• Data and information sharing across sectors and administrative


• IWRM capacity development, linked to practical issues in the

Member Countries and aiming at:

‣ Greater common features between the countries’ policies and


‣ Greater coordination between national line agencies, policies and


• Harmonization of methods, tools, systems, standards, etc. for

data collection and information generation, transboundary impact

assessment, and development and management of water

resources at the basin, national and sub-basin levels

• Creation of goodwill among sectors, riparian countries and basin

stakeholders to collaborate and share data and information


Transboundary Water Cooperation Workshop

“Sharing benefits from Transboundary Water Management”

20-22 January 2010, Vientiane, Lao PDR

Lessons Learned So Far


Relevance, common

understanding and engagement

• Common understanding of concerned line agencies

and NMCSs on the need, purpose, scope and

relevance of the BDP for national policies/plans is a

prerequisite for information sharing and proactive


• Intensive discussions to address countries’ interests

and concerns in the basin planning process are

essential for forging well-informed and synthesized

national positions and developing regional consensus.

• Clear linkage with national planning, governance and

decision-making processes is the key


National & regional aspects

• Understand national water governance context for

the design of technical approach and appropriate

national and regional coordination/integration


• Respect national differences in promoting regional

approaches, dialogue and consensus building

• Target capacity building for a regional integration


• Promote broader vision beyond water agenda, i.e.

based on Member Countries’ common wish for

regional peace, stability and development


Thank you.

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