Mekong riparian countries are facing severe human-induced challenges, due to socio-economic transformation, urbanization, and the ever increasing interlinking and economic growth of the riparian countries. Hydropower developments on the main river streams are just one example of many controversial topics related to the Mekong Basin.
These developments, in addition to climate change and associated shifts in flood pulse or river ecology are taking their toll on a highly sensitive aquatic ecosystem and affect the livelihoods of millions of people in the region. These effects are negatively reinforced by the increasing and often conflicting demands of the different riparian countries of the Mekong.
Our six years of experience working (WISDOM Project) on the environmental, economic, and social topics related to the Mekong has shown us that there is a need for intensified, inter-disciplinary exchange on these topics for all riparian countries. Our experience has also shown that there are already many excellent projects in place that address the most pressing overarching theme of the Mekong: to find a sustainable equilibrium between economic development on the one hand, and the protection of natural resources on the other.
The United Nations has declared 2013 as the year of “International Year of Water Cooperation”. Actors from all backgrounds and disciplines will take advantage of this to actively promote the internationally agreed water-related goals, which were set out in Agenda 21, the Millennium Development Goals, and prior climate-related summits in Johannesburg, Kyoto, Cancun, and Rio.
At the Mekong Environmental Symposium 2013 we focus on the most pressing issues in one of the world’s largest transboundary river catchments. The Mekong Basin is home to over 70 million inhabitants. The river flows for over 4800 km through six countries. Nations are working in the Mekong include not only the riparian countries themselves, but also countries such as Japan and other ASEAN nations, Australia, the USA, and many European countries.