Ian Taylor/CPWF Mekong.

Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia

Continental Southeast Asia is home to some major river systems, including the Irrawaddy, the Mekong, the Red and the Salween. These rivers are being developed at breakneck speed to provide energy, food, and economic growth to one of the fastest growing parts of the world. Ensuring that this development not only benefits people equally, but does so in a way that guarantees long term ecological and economic sustainability will require a more system wide approach that looks beyond country borders and considers large scale river basins as a whole. Realizing the potentials of this large scale reservoir management means supporting long-term change and the ability to bring different groups together to approach the challenges collaboratively.

Fishing in Wetlands outside Phnom Penh

Hydropower development

One of the largest factors that impacts land and water use in continental Southeast Asia is hydropower development. These massive projects bring a great deal of investment, but also significantly change the way rivers flow and land is used. Understanding the cumulative impacts of dam development will be important as the sector continues to expand in the future.

  • Re-conceptualizing dam design and management for enhanced water and food security

    CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE). 2017. Re-conceptualizing dam design and management for enhanced water and food security. Colombo, Sri Lanka: International Water Management Institute (IWMI). CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE). 12p. (WLE Towards Sustainable Intensification: Insights and Solutions Brief 3). doi: 10.5337/2017.212
  • Blog Post

    Dams, Data and Decisions

  • Blog Post
    A 16-year-old Karen boy swims in the Salween River at the Myanmar-Thai border.

    The plan to dam Asia’s last free-flowing, international river

Inclusive decision making and governance

In order to ensure that everyone benefits from the development in Southeast Asia, WLE has worked on promoting stakeholder dialogues and inclusive decision making processes that involve people from communities, governments, and private sector investors. 

Healthy rivers

In order to try and encourage sustainable decision making, researchers have set out to establish baseline indicators with which to observe the health of the major Southeast Asian rivers. This will help governments and research institutes determine what changes occur over time and what effects specific interventions have on the overall well-being of the regions rivers.