MRC Summit

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Regional benefit sharing for sustainable development of the Mekong basin Anoulak Kittikhoun (Regional) Coordinator, Basin Development Plan (BDP) Programme Mekong River Commission

Clear mandate in 1995 Agreement: cooperation, mutual benefits, joint development Article 1: to cooperate in all fields of sustainable development, utilisation, management & conservation of water and related resources of Mekong……. to optimise multiple-use & mutual benefits of all riparians… Article 2: …with emphasis & preference on joint &/or basin-wide development through formulation of basin development plan, that would be used to identify, categorise & prioritise the projects & programmes to seek assistance for and to implement at basin level

First step done: Basin-wide cumulative assessment of national development plans 

In 2008-2010, MRC’s Basin Development Plan (BDP) Programme led a basin-wide cumulative impact assessment of the basin countries’ national plans (including hydropower and irrigation), with and without consideration of climate change impacts

The assessment demonstrated the considerable transboundary nexus (synergies and tradeoffs) between water, energy, food, environmental and climate security (reported in 14 volumes)

The Basin Development Strategy •

The basin-wide assessments allowed the basin countries to negotiate and agree on a IWRM-based Basin Development Strategy

One of the strategic priorities is to:

“seek options for sharing the potential benefits and risks of development” (e.g. navigation, irrigation, hydropower, water supply, etc)

Further, the Strategy calls for the MRCS to “support and facilitate negotiated solutions for sharing benefits and risks that are sensitive to the region, in compliance with MRC Procedures, and respectful of the development strategies and aspirations for regional cooperation of the parties”.

Currently scoping of regional benefit sharing in the Mekong region 

Drawing on eight case studies of benefit sharing in international river basins

And drawing on past and planned MRC activities, an approach and methodology for regional benefit sharing for the Mekong region has been developed

The resulting scoping report is being discussed with a range of national and regional stakeholders

International experience The case studies show that benefit sharing is implemented in different ways according to circumstances: 

Typically a central aim is to exploit opportunities to accelerate socioeconomic development and to increase national revenue in a manner that one country alone could not achieve

Generally this involves the creation of major new infrastructure to develop and manage a shared water resource more effectively

Joint ownership of infrastructure is often taken up with joint investment and predetermined sharing of costs based on expected benefits (in many sectors: flood control, water supply, energy, navigation, irrigation)

Benefit sharing agreements can include all riparians in a basin, or can be a sub-set, often just two countries

International experience Issues often encountered in benefit sharing agreements:  When social and environmental costs are not factored in at the beginning – leading to unforeseen costs to one or other country

 When national-to-local benefit sharing mechanisms are weak - leading to less satisfactory outcomes than intended

 When agreements are inflexible to deal with changing circumstances (such as energy market price fluctuations) – leading to tensions between riparians

Regional benefit sharing in the Mekong co