Strengthening Governance of Transboundary Rivers

Asia Pacific Bulletin


Washington, DC: East-West Center

Available From: October 8, 2020
Publication Date: October 8, 2020
Free Download: PDF


This Asia Pacific Bulletin series of analyses on Strengthening Governance of Transboundary Rivers is being released as part of the Indo-Pacific Conference on Strengthening Governance of Transboundary Rivers organized by the East-West Center in Washington, U.S. Department of State, and Mekong-U.S. Partnership. The invitation-only conference, to be held virtually on October 15-16, 2020, brings together practitioners, experts, and national and civil society representatives to focus on Enhancing Transparency, Partnerships & Stakeholder Engagement.

Brian Eyler and Courtney Weatherby, Program Director for Southeast Asia and Research Analyst, respectively, at the Stimson Center in Washington, DC, explain that: “In consultation with Mekong countries and other development partners, the United States should articulate a solution-oriented vision for transboundary river governance.” 
An Pich Hatda, CEO of the Mekong River Commission, explains that: “The mainstream hydrology is changing, affecting the timing and volume of reverse flows into the Tonle Sap Lake, and making any definition of the wet and dry seasons a moving target.”
Jane Corwin, Chair of the U.S. section of the International Joint Commission, explains that: “As water knows no boundaries nor political authority, collaboration across borders is necessary in order to manage water apportionment, flood/drought mitigation, and water quality in transboundary waters.”
Khin Ohnmar Htwe, Director of the Myanmar Environment Institute, explains that: “Since the country has both national and international rivers, Myanmar needs to be aware of Integrated Water Resources Management.”
Matus Samel, Consultant for the Economist Intelligence Unit, explains that: “Top-down basin-level stakeholder engagement has been limited by the fact that the river’s upstream states, China and Myanmar, are only ‘dialogue partners’, not full members, of the Mekong River Commission.”
Leonie Pearson, Senior Research Fellow at the Stockholm Environment Institute, explains that: “For many, the state-centric actors are delivering the governmental agenda. Therefore, it is not governance that is managing transboundary water in Asia, but government."
Jake Brunner and Raphaël Glémet, of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, explain that: “Investment decisions that only consider the institutional or national benefit may have large negative transboundary externalities, and appeals to the impact of upstream projects on biodiversity and livelihoods downstream tend to fall on deaf ears.”
John Dore, Lead Water Specialist, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Singapore, explains that: “Australia’s Water Act is an ambitious piece of legislation that seeks to return water allocations in the Murray Darling Basin to sustainable levels and to coordinate planning and decision-making at the Basin level.”
Ivan Zavadsky, Executive Secretary of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River, explains that: “One of the key challenges in managing an international transboundary river basin is to ensure sustainable development, water allocation, and utilization among sovereign states.”
Rajiv Bhatia, Distinguished Fellow at Gateway House and former Indian Ambassador to Myanmar, explains that: “Differences and disputes continue on facets of water-related governance between India and Pakistan, India and Nepal, and even India and Bangladesh. India figures in all these equations… because it is a middle riparian country.”

Click Here to view more titles from the Asia Pacific Bulletin