IN THE NEWS: 'Why the Mekong matters'

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IN THE NEWS:

By Sam Geall [The Third Pole, 1 November 2018]

The countries of the Mekong should build a “community of shared future”, said China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in December last year. The Lancang-Mekong Cooperative Framework (LMC) is “practical and highly effective”, he said. “We do not go after a high-profile ‘talk shop’, but a down-to-earth ‘bulldozer’”.

China has managed to cement its influence over the transboundary river in recent years, in a move that has important implications for the riverine environment and the people that rely on its resources. Its primary vehicle, or “bulldozer”, the LMC, will drive dam and development projects, special economic zones and trade.

It also illustrates China’s changing approaches to Southeast Asia – the central topic addressed recently in a policy forum The Third Pole and chinadialogue co-organised with the Centre for Social Development Studies (CSDS) and the Faculty of Political Science at Chulalongkorn University, in Bangkok.

Read more at this link here

UPCOMING INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE SESSION: "Sustainable Transboundary Governance of the Environmental Commons in Southeast Asia" [Singapore, 1-2 November 2018]

Sustainable Transboundary Governance of the Environmental Commons in Southeast Asia is a workshop organised by the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore. This multi-disciplinary workshop will explore key issues in sustainable development with particular reference to the ecological commons in Southeast Asia from a transboundary governance perspective.

For more details about the workshop, please visit this link.

Panel 7 - Transborder Governance Frameworks

15:30 - 16.30, November 2, AS8 Level 4, Seminar Room 04-04, National University of Singapore, Singapore

How East Asian Regional Economic Integration Teleconnects and Transforms Wetland Commons and Community Vulnerability in Japan and Thailand

  • Carl Middleton, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand

  • Takeshi Ito, Sophia University, Japan

Global and regional economic integration teleconnect distant places not only economically but also ecologically. Japan is a key exporter of capital and aid provider to Southeast Asia, catalyzing industrialization and new flows of trade and investment. Whilst much emphasis has been placed by governments and transnational corporations on the economic benefits of regionalization, research has also revealed impacts to local environments including enclosure of commons and differentiated changes for communities’ vulnerabilities

For more details on this session, please take a look at the abstract here.

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UPCOMING PUBLIC SEMINAR: "Understanding the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Framework and China’s role in the Mekong Region" [Bangkok, 3 September 2018]

09.00 - 17.00, Monday, 3rd September at Alumni Meeting Room, 12th Floor, Kasem Utthayanin Building (อาคารเกษม อุทยานิน), Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand

Co-organized by chinadialogue, The Third Pole, Earth Journalism Network, and the Centre for Social Development Studies, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok

The Mekong region is facing a period of rapid change shaped by a significant shift over the past decade in its relationship with China. New pathways of regional integration and intergovernmental cooperation have emerged, including through the Belt and Road Initiative and the Lancang Mekong Cooperation Framework. Associated with these shifts have been deepening trade between China and the Mekong Region, and growing flows of investment from China into a range of projects including large dams, railways, and industrial projects. Whilst these trends reflect a geo-economic shift, longstanding challenges on environmental sustainability, social equity, government-investor accountability to the public and public participation remain. Inevitably it seems, China, as a powerful country, will play a key role in shaping the future path of the Mekong Region.

This public forum will bring together experts and journalists from China and lower Mekong countries to discuss the geopolitical implications of Chinese investment and regional initiatives in the Mekong Region. It will address the Belt and Road Initiative; the challenges and opportunities in transboundary water governance under the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Framework, together with other emerging cooperation issues; and debate by regional journalists about the trends, challenges and successes for Southeast Asia’s media on reporting on China’s role in the Mekong Region.

 

Program and List of Panelists:

08.15 - 09.00  Registration

09.00 - 09.15  Welcome remarks by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ake Tangsupvattana, Dean of Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University

09.15 - 10.45  Session 1: The Belt and Road Initiative:  Geopolitical implications for Asia

Moderator: Asst. Prof. Dr. Carl Middleton, Center for Social Development Studies, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University

  • 'Geopolitics and Geoeconomics of the Belt and Road Initiative' by Dr. Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Institute of Security and International Studies (ISIS), Chulalongkorn University

  • 'The Belt and Road Initiative: A Perspective from China' by Mr. Li Hong,Permanent Mission of the People's Republic of China to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (UNESCAP)

  • 'What does the Belt and Road Initiative mean for US-Thailand relations?' by Benjamin Zawacki, Independent Analyst

  • 'Debt Diplomacy?: The experience of Sri Lanka' by Amantha Perera, Journalist

10.45 - 11.15  Coffee break

11.15 - 12.45  Session 2: Transboundary Water Cooperation – Progress and Challenges

Moderator: Dr. Ukrist Pathmanand, Mekong Research Center, Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University  

12.45 - 13.30  Lunch

13.30 - 14.45  Session 3: Rise of the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Framework: Emerging cooperation issues

Moderator: Kamol Sukin, China Dialogue

14.45 - 15.15  Coffee Break

15.15 - 16.45  Session 4: Reporting on the Mekong and China’s role: Trends, challenges and successes for Southeast Asia’s media

Moderator: Sim Kok Eng Amy, Earth Journalism Network

16.45 - 17.00  Closing Reflections

  • Dr. Sam Geall, China Dialogue

  • Professor Surichai Wun’gaeo, Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, Chulalongkorn University

 

*This event will be broadcasted on Facebook Live: www.facebook.com/CSDSChula/

 

To register for this forum, please e-mail us your name, organisation, and position to  Anisa Widyasari (CSDS) at communications.csds@gmail.com. The seat is limited and registration will be accepted on first come first served basis.

 
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UPCOMING PUBLIC SEMINAR: "Water scarcity and disaster recovery in Hakha Town, Chin State, Myanmar: Technical problem or governance challenge?" [5 July 2017]

14:00-16:00, Alumni Meeting Room, 12th Floor, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University

Co-organized by the Center for Social Development Studies (CSDS) and the Master of Arts in International Development Studies of the Faculty of Political Science Chulalongkorn University.

This event will be broadcast on Facebook live: www.facebook.com/CSDSChula/

Introduction

Hakha town is the capital of Chin State, Myanmar, located in the mountainous Northwest of the country. Chin State is one of the poorest states in Myanmar, including in terms of economy, basic infrastructure, and access to health care and education. This reflects a lack of long-term investment in basic services, as well as being the product of Myanmar’s long-standing conflict.

In recent years, the town’s population has faced growing water insecurity. This has created great hardships for the local population, especially in the dry season. For those who cannot access water from private springs, or afford to buy water, they must queue sometimes for hours to collect relatively small amounts of water. This situation has caused discontent towards the Municipal, State and Union level government, and has also on occasion caused conflict amongst the local population themselves.

Compounding the difficulties faced by Hakha’s population, in June 2015, Hakha town suffered a major landslide. As a result, over 4000 people living in at-risk places were moved, many permanently to a new settlement. In the settlement, the government has provided land or houses, yet basic services including water and schools were lagging behind. In the longer-term, the resettled people, who are mostly farmers, are uncertain about how they can make a living without access to farming land, and a perceived limited support from the government.

Research presented at the seminar will show how water insecurity is the product of physical, social and political processes that are inter-related, including: rising water demand due to a growing population without systematic town planning; deforestation of the surrounding watershed which has reduced water supply; and underinvestment in water supply infrastructure. The seminar will explore the underlying causes of these dynamics, as a basis for deliberating approaches to ensure equitable and reliable water access for all of Hakha’s residents.

Seminar speakers

  • “Water insecurity in Hakha Town, Chin State, Myanmar” by Asst. Prof. Dr. Carl Middleton (Director of CSDS) and Orapan Pratomlek (CSDS project coordinator)
  • “Prospects for improved water security: Municipal water, watershed protection, and urban planning” Van Bawi Lian (CSDS researcher)
  • “Lessons learned from landslide disaster recovery in Hakha town, and how to strengthen resilience” by Hlawn Tin Cuai (Master Student of Architecture (IMARCH), Faculty of Architecture, Chulalongkorn University; and ex- Operation Manager of Hakha Rescue Committee, September 2015 to February 2016)
  • Discussant: Pastor Lai Cung (Hakhathar Baptist Church)
  • Chair: Asst. Prof. Dr. Naruemon Thabchumpon (Director of MAIDS Program, Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University)
  • Opening remarks: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ake Tangsupvattana, Dean of Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University (t.b.c.)

For further details on CSDS’s research on Water governance and access to water in Hakha Town, Chin State, Myanmar, visit here: http://www.csds-chula.org/water-security-in-hakha/

This research is supported by Chula UniSearch under the Human Security Cluster. 

 

UPCOMING INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE: "2016 Greater Mekong Forum on Water, Food, and Energy" [9-11 November 2016]

UPCOMING INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE: "2016 Greater Mekong Forum on Water, Food, and Energy" [9-11 November 2016]

The Greater Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy has been planned as an annual event with the first iteration occurring in 2011. It is the largest event of its kind in the Mekong Region. 

It is a major, regional knowledge-sharing event, interfacing knowledge producers with knowledge users.

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UPCOMING INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE: "Mekong, Salween and Red Rivers: Sharing Knowledge and Perspectives Across Borders" [12 November 2016]

UPCOMING INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE: "Mekong, Salween and Red Rivers: Sharing Knowledge and Perspectives Across Borders" [12 November 2016]

The objectives of the International Conference on the Mekong, Salween and Red Rivers:

Sharing Knowledge and Perspectives Across Borders are:

  • For research fellows to present their research findings in full, and receive feedback from discussants and other participants
  • To enable networking between fellowship programs, including with alumni from past fellowships
  • To evaluate the impact of existing and past research fellowship programs, and deliberate future direction
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