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Project Details

Mekong - Brahmaputra Conversations: Ecosystems. Livelihood. People.

Ecology (Water)

  • Start Date : 01/06/18
  • End Date : 15/11/18

Project Staus : Completed

Publication : Outcome Report: Mekong-Brahmaputra Conversation

Photogallery :


1.1. Overview:

A research and exchange initiative on understanding the formal  institutional frameworks and Civil Society Organization (CSO) led initiatives on lives, livelihoods and ecosystem  of remote riverine borderlands along the Brahmaputra and Mekong regions.

1.2. Background and Context:

Better cooperation in areas such as connectivity and trade between the nation states in Eastern South Asia (BBIN  and ASEAN) is taking centre stage in the evolving geo economic landscape. As the nation states strive to meet SDG goals, inherent ecological interconnectedness mandates cooperation in core sectors such as water resource management. The Brahmaputra (Jamuna) river passing through India and Bangladesh (part of the Brahmaputra Meghna Basin.) and the Mekong river in Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia, both originating in the water towers of China are transboundary rivers that shapes the lives and livelihood of millions of people in the respective regions. The Mekong region has had a history of regional cooperation amongst the nation states though mechanisms such as ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) and MRC (Mekong regional Cooperation) Framework. Regional cooperation around the Mekong river as part of the MRC framework has made much more headway.

While significant developmental activities have happened around the Mekong river, challenges still exist. The Mekong Council Study is a more recent initiative which is an integrated, cross-sectoral, comprehensive and state-of-the-art study supporting sustainable development in the Mekong Basin focusing on the MRC Member Countries – Thailand, Lao PDR, Cambodia and Vietnam. The Brahmaputra region, post partition, is now evolving strategies around regional cooperation. The development of National Waterway 2 on Brahmaputra and Meghna Basin and the India Bangladesh Protocol route aims to connect land locked states in North east India to the Bay of Bengal. Multimodal connectivity projects under initiatives such as BIMSTEC, India Myanmar Thailand Trilateral highway (IMT), BBIN are also underway as game changing initiatives. The other sub-regional initiative Bangladesh China India Myanmar (BCIM) Forum for Regional Cooperation, is yet to gather much traction on the ground. Notwithstanding new developments,  issues such as flood control, challenges of agriculture, aquaculture, horticulture practices, watershed/springshed rejuvenation, forestry management and their effects on riverine communities loom large.

Thus, drawing on the experiences of the Mekong region which has had a history of transboundary institutional and community cooperation and where the local communities and the civil society have found a greater voice, the Brahmaputra region can draw strength towards formulating a more inclusive people friendly mechanism in managing the water resources effectively.  Drawn from the recommendations of the first Mekong Brahmaputra Conversation held in 2017, the next Mekong Brahmaputra Conversations aims at sharing of community centric knowledge systems on both sides on three issues listed,

a)    Better understanding of best practices and challenges in the communities and common institutional framework for effective transboundary water management mechanisms in the Brahmaputra and Mekong region.

b)    Learning and sharing through case studies and good practices  to help design tangible demonstrations and create a discourse around sustainable livelihood systems around the rivers which is possible without large interventions from man or machines.

c)     Highlighting the deep civilizational connect between the regions, creating a joint narrative on Celebrating Riverine culture, recounting the traditional reverence for nature and associated value systems which was a vital ingredient in maintaining the balance in the environment.


1.3. Objectives:

The project aims at facilitating an interaction and knowledge exchange between civil society and experts of the two regions for:

 ·            understanding  the MRC mechanism,

              identifying community best practices in the Mekong context

·       enhanced knowledge exchange and experience sharing on common challenges

·       develop recommendations and action agenda that can be used by stakeholders at various levels (community, academia, civil society and policy makers) in the Brahmaputra region

·       develop institutional contacts that can potentially lead to a network of likeminded stakeholders/actors/organisations/ across both region.