The Mighty Mekong: Victim or Winner of Regional Politics?
Discussing Water Diplomacy with Dr. Anoulak Kittikhoun, Apichai Sunchindah and Dr. Susanne Schmeier
As the largest reserve of fresh water outside the polar regions, the Tibetan Plateau is the source of long and significant rivers. This includes the Mekong River, one of the most biodiverse rivers, which flows through Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. When Laos went ahead with the first mainstream hydropower projects downstream of China, fierce debates among the riparian states and public contestations have emerged as the Mekong, one of the last (almost) free flowing rivers, is undergoing rapid changes. Trade-offs are high: Unforeseen impacts on fisheries and sediment affecting the Mekong delta. Zooming in from the global picture to Asia, Dr. Susanne Schmeier, senior lecturer in water law and diplomacy at IHE Delft, opens up this webcast, followed by a discussion on water diplomacy in the Mekong region with Dr. Anoulak Kittikhoun, chief strategy and partnership officer of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) Secretariat, and Apichai Sunchindah, an independent development specialist with interest in the Mekong region and Southeast Asia.
This webcast was co-hosted by IHE Delft.
Slides by Dr. Susanne Schmeier and Dr. Anoulak Kittikhoun
River Basin Organizations in Water Diplomacy (Routledge, 2020), edited by Dr. Anoulak Kittikhoun and Dr. Susanne Schmeier
Dr. Anoulak Kittikhoun is a political scientist, strategist and planner who has worked for a national government, a think tank, the United Nations, and a major river basin organization. As chief strategy and partnership officer of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) Secretariat, he leads the organizations work on strategic planning and policy, international cooperation, communication and stakeholder engagement, monitoring and evaluation, and organizational development. His new co-edited book River Basin Organizations in Water Diplomacy (Routledge, 2020) provides insights into how river basin organisations from a range of political, cultural and physical settings have addressed sensitive development decisions.
Apichai Sunchindah is currently an independent development specialist with professional experience spanning more than four decades, and a keen and continuous observer of development-related activities particularly in the Southeast Asia / Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region and the Mekong sub-region with special focus in recent years on capacity building and institutional strengthening activities of various organizations/entities. Apichai started his career as a researcher on inter-disciplinary development-oriented projects at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), situated on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand. He then held assignments with several Bangkok-based development cooperation agencies of Australia, the United States, Switzerland and most recently Germany. He also spent about half of his professional career working with the ASEAN Secretariat and the ASEAN Foundation, both located in Jakarta, Indonesia, as well as the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Bangkok, Thailand. Apichai is also currently and Associate with the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)’s Asia regional office as well as an Affiliate of the Mekong Region Futures Institute (MERFI).
Dr. Susanne Schmeier, LLM, is a senior lecturer in water law and diplomacy at IHE Delft in Delft, The Netherlands. She specializes in water and environmental law and management, with a particular focus on shared water resources. Prior to joining IHE Delft, she worked for the German Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) as well as various international and regional organizations, including the World Bank, supporting sustainable water resources management around the world. This also brought her to the Mekong region, including to Laos, where she lived for several years and worked for the Mekong River Commission (MRC), and Vietnam, where she was a trainee at the German Embassy. Susanne holds a PhD in water governance from the Free University Berlin (in partnership with Oregon State University), an LLM in international law from the University of London and a diploma/MA in international relations and international law from the University of Leipzig and Sciences Po Paris. Her new co-edited book River Basin Organizations in Water Diplomacy (Routledge, 2020) provides insights into how river basin organisations from a range of political, cultural and physical settings have addressed sensitive development decisions.