OverviewThe Mekong Basin drains a vast area of eastern Asia, flowing 4,500km from the mountains of south-western China, through Laos, Thailand and Cambodia
The Mekong River and its tributaries drain a vast area of mainland Southeast Asia. The Mekong flows more than 4,500km from the mountains of south-western China, and together with its tributaries it also drains parts of Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. This transboundary river basin feeds and waters some 66m people, but its continued ability to do so is in question as the basin has undergone an extremely rapid transformation. According to the WWF, quoted in The Economist, 16 May 2020, “All the environmental indicators are in the red.”
There are 13 dams along the Mekong mainstream: 11 in China and two in Laos. China plans eight more and Laos seven, while Cambodia has placed a moratorium on mainstream dam building. There are also dozens of dams operating and under construction on Mekong tributaries in all four lower riparian countries, with plans for many more.
This meeting will consider the implications of the rapid transformation for the basin, its region and other transboundary basins. The meeting comprises two virtual sessions. The first session, on Friday 5 November, will consider aspects of historical developments along the Mekong River and where these developments may be heading. In the second session, on Friday 12 November, looks at specific developments affecting the flow regime of the Mekong River and possibilities for developing a sustainable river system.