Knowledge Co-production for Recovering Wetlands, Agro-ecological Farming and Livelihoods in the Mekong Region
Carl Middleton, Kanokwan Manorom, Nguyen Van Kien, Outhai Soukkhy and Albert Salamanca
Chayanis Krittasudthacheewa, Hap Navy, Bui Duc Tinh, and Saykham Voladet
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The Mekong Region contains extensive wetlands of high levels of biodiversity that have long provided a wide range of ecosystem services that are equally important to human well-being. In many cases, these wetlands have long been important for agro-ecological production, including rice and vegetable farming, livestock raising, fishing and aquaculture, and the collection of non-timber forest products (NTFPs), thus supporting local livelihoods and economies.
Unfortunately, many wetlands in the Mekong Region have been degraded or even lost, largely due to agricultural intensification, large-scale water infrastructure development, and land use changes associated with urbanization The extensive loss of wetlands is a threat to sustainable economic development through the loss of core ecosystem services that they provide. It also threatens the enjoyment of a range of human rights, including the rights to life, health, food, water and culture. When traditional wetlands agro-ecological practices are lost, so too are the local knowledge and culture associated with them.
Addressing complex problems such as the loss of wetlands requires gathering and activating a range of different types of knowledge, including scientific (expert), local, practical, and political. In this chapter, we present three case studies of knowledge coproduction research in Thailand, Vietnam and Laos aimed at the more inclusive ecological governance of wetlands degraded by largescale water infrastructure and the recovery of associated agro-ecological systems and livelihoods. We consider knowledge coproduction to be the dynamic interaction of multiple actors, each with their own types of knowledge, who coproduce new usable knowledge specific to their environmental, sociopolitical and cultural context and that can influence decision-making and actions on the ground. We argue that the knowledge coproduction approach enables research to move beyond weak forms of “participation” and towards social learning that builds trust, partnership and ownership among actors, and can generate innovative solutions for wetland and livelihood recovery.
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Citation: Middleton, C., Manorom, K., Nguyen, V.K., Soukkhy, O. and Salamanca, A. (2019) “Knowledge Co-production for Recovering Wetlands, Agro-ecological Farming and Livelihoods in the Mekong Region” (pp 9-34) in Krittasudthacheewa, C., Navy, H., Tinh, B.C. and Voladet, S. (eds). Development and Climate Change in the Mekong Region. SIRD/Gerakbudaya, Malaysia