Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy

CPWF in the Mekong PDF Print
Between 2010 and 2013 CPWF will implement several projects in the Mekong region, all of which set out to gain the impact we want to achieve.The CPWF’s objective in the Mekong is:To reduce poverty and foster development by optimizing the use of water in reservoirs.

If we’re successful, hydropower in the Mekong region will be:

  • Managed in ways that are fairer and more equitable to all water users.
  • Managed and coordinated across cascades to optimize benefits for all.
  • Planned and managed to account for environmental and social needs.
  • Used for multiple purposes besides hydropower alone.
  • Better governed and the benefits better shared.

The Mekong River Basin

The Mekong River rises on the Tibetan Plateau, and then travels 4,909 km before emptying into the South China Sea. It is the world’s tenth longest river. On its way, the river runs through six countries: China, Myanmar, Thailand, Lao PDR, Cambodia and Vietnam. The basin covers 795,000 km2, and is home to more than 60 million people. To learn more about the Mekong, click here.
Why this focus?

The single largest intervention to affect water use, management and productivity in the Mekong today is the development of the river.

Hydropower is vital for the economies and development potential of the basin’s countries. CPWF aims to increase the benefits derived from this sector, and to contribute towards minimising the negative impacts of these developments.

CPWF Mekong, therefore, sets out to improve the livelihoods and ecological benefits to be derived from reservoirs and their catchments without impairing the economic and social gains to be derived from hydropower generation. It also seeks to see if additional benefits can be derived through changes in reservoir management and dam operation, again, without affecting already projected economic and social gains from these dams. It seeks to see if these benefits can be further increased through sequential dam management, both within countries and across borders. The overarching issue of the improved water and hydropower governance that is required to enable and deliver these benefits will be addressed through creating platforms for dialogues between the many stakeholders involved across the region.

Where do we work?

CPWF Mekong works across the Mekong River Basin. Its projects are scaled, meaning that, at the lowest level, we will be looking at individual dam sites (the Theun-Hinboun Expansion Project in Laos, the Lower Sesan 2 site in Cambodia, and the Yalli Falls Dam in Vietnam), through the catchment (the Sesan and the Nam-Theun-Hinboun-Kading catchments) and, finally, to the basin scale.

Presently, CPWF Mekong is hosted by the Southeast Asian Regional Offices of the International Water Management Institute in Vientiane, Lao PDR.

  Mekong Project 1: Optimizing reservoir management for livelihoods
  Mekong Project 2: Water valuation
  Mekong Project 3: Land and water management in catchments with cascades of dams
   Mekong Project 4: Water governance
  Mekong Project 5: Coordination and change project
  Mekong Project 6: Hydropower governance and multi-stakeholder platforms

Mekong Hydropower Map

Previous CPWF work in the Mekong

The CPWF has worked in the Mekong ever since its inception in 2004. For the first four years, the program was hosted by the Mekong River Commission in Vientiane, Lao PDR. During this time, the CPWF implemented 13 projects across the basin. Find out more about these projects here.


December 7-9, 2011 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia – Agenda

Download a detailed agenda here (pdf)

Day 1: Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Registration 08:00-09:00 Registration
Opening ceremony 09:00-09:20 Remarks by Cambodian partners
09:20-09:30 Opening address
09:30-09:50 Keynote address
09:50-10:00 Forum introduction
Break 10:00-10:30 Coffee
Session 1 10:30-12:30 Managing development within a water-food-energy nexus: a facilitated session designed to explore what water resources development needs if it is to be effectively and fairly managed. Following keynotes, panel debate: this house believes that final decisions on development in river basins should lie with river basin organizations.
Lunch 12:30-13:30 Lunch
Session 2a 13:30-15:00 Water engineering: This session considers what technologies (designs, turbines and other equipment) can reduce some of the negative, long-term, costs of water infrastructure. It will explore whether or not these technologies can work in the Mekong, and the debate that surrounds the session presentations, will reflect on whether or not these technologies are desirable.
Session 2b 13:30-15:00 Hydropower, Irrigation and Multiple Use: Typically, hydropower and irrigation infrastructure in the region are single use. This session considers why this is, and why multiple-use design and operation can potentially improve the sustainability profiles of these kinds of infrastructure. The session aims to reflect on four central issues: (a) multiple uses of hydro-infrastructure increases their value to both society and economy; (b) the benefits generated by single use more than adequately compensates for the loss of other uses; (c) environmental services should be regarded as a user value when considering hydro-infrastructure; (d) multiple use is a fairer and more sustainable way of developing water resources.
Session 2c 13:30-15:00 2nd Cambodia-Australia Water-Food-Energy Partners’ Meeting. Australia is committed to supporting its partners in Cambodia to improve water use, food and energy production.  In July 2011 the 1st Roundtable was held where participants declared their interest in meeting again to search for ways to improve efficiency of work: (a) between government and non-government actors; (b) between different Ministries; and (c) between researchers and policymakers.The purpose of the 2nd meeting is to share recent successes and challenges of many important Cambodian initiatives, and identify ways to improve results, linkages and partnerships.
Break 15:00-15:30 Coffee
Session 3a 15:30-17:30 Policy and Regulation in the Hydropower Sector: A facilitated panel debate designed to explore how hydropower is regulated, and the policies that govern it.  It comprises a panel debate in which a motion is proposed, and one team supports it, while the other opposes it. The motion is: this house believes that too much regulation and too high standards turns away investors.
Session 3b 15:30-17:30 Cambodia-Australia (continued)
Dinner 18:30-20:30 Dinner
Day 2: Thursday, December 8, 2011
Opening 09:00-09:15 Review of agenda
Session 4 09:15-10:15 Neck Deep – Flooding in the Mekong Region: The Mekong Region has been affected by substantial flooding during the past few months. Only now, the scale of this regional disaster is beginning to come into focus, with many pieces of the puzzle still missing. What has led to these recent severe floods? How well have they been managed? What are the economic and political fallouts? And what lessons can be learned on national and regional scales?
Break 10:15-10:30 Coffee
Session 5 10:30-12:30 Improving hydropower planning and assessment: This session will focus on processes, methods and tools to improve and measure hydropower quality, actor responsibility and project sustainability.
Lunch 12:30-13:30 Lunch
Session 6a 13:30-15:00 How does research influence the ways in which water, food, energy development decision are made?
Session 6b 13:30-15:00 Sustainable decision-making – the value of transparency: This is a facilitated session designed to explore why transparency makes sense in water and energy decision-making. Following keynotes, the panel will debate: this house believes that transparency in water resources development slows down development, and complicates issues too much.
Break 15:00-15:30 Coffee
Session 7 15:30-17:00 Financing and Revenue Management in water and energy resources development: Arguably, finance is central to the development of water and energy resources – in order to both develop them, and in terms of managing the benefits to emerge from them. This session will have two facets. In the first part of the session, it will explore the reasons why it makes sense to obtain financing from banks with solid sustainable development credentials. The audience and panelists will consider arguments made in favor of such financing, and balance these against the need for rapid development in a region otherwise characterized by high poverty levels and development problems. The second part of the session will focus on what options exist to effectively manage hydropower revenues, and the ways in which these can best be distributed to generate optimal development impacts.
Dinner 18:00-20:30 Boat trip and dinner on the river
Day 3: Friday, December 9, 2011
Opening 09:00-09:15 Review of agenda
Session 8a 09:15-11:15 An interactive workshop led by M-POWER Fellows: Five M-POWER fellows will present their research plans, methodologies and seek constructive feedback to improve their work. The session will also provide tools for ways in which fellows (and participants) can communicate their research to influence change.
Session 8b 09:15-11:15 Energy Futures: What would a socially optimal Mekong energy system look like from your perspective?”  This session will be an interactive multi-stakeholder session on energy futures. Short expert presentations will be followed by small group discussions and multi-criteria ‘map-making’ activity.
Break 11:15-11:30 Coffee
Closing 11:30-12:00 Closing: What does development mean within the context of the water, food and energy nexus?
Lunch 12:00-13:00 Lunch



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