Civil society and transboundary water management experiences from South and South East Asia

Triveni_Sangam

Civil society and transboundary water management experiences from South and South East Asia

DFMyanmar-logo-theAsiaFoundation

Date: Wednesday, 14 September
Time: 8:30 – 10:00

Asia’s major rivers – from the Ganges and Brahmaputra to the Mekong and Salween – have defined the geography, history, and culture of countries in the region for centuries and are critical to economic growth, food and energy security, and sustainable development within the region. But over the last few decades, these rivers have come under considerable pressure from industrial development, urbanization, population growth, and environmental pollution. This situation has been compounded by poor domestic management of water resources, overuse and extraction, and increasing variability in rainfall and climate patterns that have made South and South East Asia highly susceptible to floods, droughts, and natural disasters. In an environment of growing uncertainty, effective management of ground and surface water is critical to mitigating climatic, economic and social impacts.

To date, much of the debate on transboundary water issues in countries in the region, has been led by governments with limited space for civil society engagement. However, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that civil society engagement is crucial to a more productive, collaborative and constructive discussion on the issue of water security. Specifically, at a national level, civil society organizations can serve as important conduits for fostering dialogue, highlighting critical issues around environment, biodiversity, livelihoods and gender, and linking grassroots issues to national policy making processes. At a transboundary level, through their ability to engage, network and convene across borders, civil society organizations can engage with a range of stakeholders, and foster dialogue processes that support and bolster formal negotiations. In this way, civil society can serve to highlight critical issues on water security, foster collaborative relationships and partnerships that transcend borders and in so doing deescalate tensions around regional cooperation on water.

Led by The Asia Foundation, the moderated panel discussion will bring together civil society practitioners and public policy experts from South and South East Asia to discuss the ways in which civil society engagement on water-related issues in the region has and can play a constructive role in fostering improved management and regional cooperation on water.

Some of the core questions the panel will seek to address include:
• The role that civil society has and can play to the current nature of the discourse.
• Reflections on civil society’s role in transboundary water management in South Asia versus South East Asia.
• Impediments to constructive engagement by civil society and how civil society can be seen as a trusted partner.
• The appropriate level (regional, national, sub-national) and domain (science, politics, culture etc) of engagement for civil society.

MODERATOR:
Mandakini D. Surie, Senior Program Officer, The Asia Foundation

PANELISTS:
Mr. Ajaya Dixit, President, ISET-Nepal
Ms. Socheata Sim, Oxfam Mekong Regional Water Governance Program
Ms. Anamika Baruah, Associate Professor, Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati
Mr. Uttam Kumar Sinha, Fellow, Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis

 

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