“A principal aim of the Rio conference is to reconcile economic growth with the protection and improvement of the water resources which are critical to sustaining economic welfare in the long term”, says Sumernet Manager Dr Chayanis Krittasudthacheewa, who is also acting director of the Stockholm Environment Institute, Asia Centre. “That’s pretty consistent with Sumernet’s aim, so it’s important that we join the Phuket discussions.”
The organisers point that throughout the world, there are hundreds of transboundary rivers and lakes. Today these resources are under increasing pressure from both environmental and man-made changes including potential uses of different sectors. This is also the case for the Mekong River whose vast transboundary water and related resources underpin multi-billion-dollar economic potential for the development of fisheries, agriculture and forestry, hydropower, navigation and trade. These can also bring about associated risks.
It is therefore even more urgent to address water in an integrated manner taking into account its inter-dependency with other sectors. Inter-governmental River Basin Organisations including the Mekong River Commission (MRC) have played a key role in ensuring that the joint management and development of shared resources will be made in the most sustainable and efficient manner.
“Transboundry issues are key for the MRC and its member states, which is why they have been central to Sumernet’s recent work as well,” adds Chayanis. “Moreover, all our projects presently are international collaborations amongst member states.”
Sumernet will be among the key players aiming to share their expertise in transboundary water resources management. Mekong2Rio will be a platform for discussion on how existing River Basin Organisations manage and develop shared resources and how to strengthen their institutional frameworks, governing structures and management practices. The event will be an opportunity for them to exchange technical knowledge and address challenges on critical issues including energy, food and water.
In addition to partner attendance, a booth will be set up in the Mekong2Rio Conference’s marketplace featuring Sumernet’s work and the research currently underway. Sumernet’s participation will also help partners gain input and feedback valuable to the secretariat is it contemplates undertaking a third phase Sumernet and Sumernet research grants.
Visitors of the booth will be also invited to take part in the online Rio+20 Sustainable Development Dialogues, which is a unique opportunity for civil society and non-state actors to add their innovative and transformative recommendations to the historic Rio+20 Conference.
Dr Annette Huber-Lee, who’s selected by the Brazilian Government to be a moderator of the Rio+20 Water Dialogue, will be present at the booth to personally invite visitors to add their perspectives to this global discussion. The online discussion is the first step of the Sustainable Development Dialogue panels that will be hosted by the Brazilian Government, from 16-19 June, in the days leading up to the Rio+20 Conference.
“The aim of the Dialogues is to bring together NGOs, the public and private sectors, the scientific community, youth and academia to contribute fresh ideas on sustainable development,” explains Huber-Lee. “Conclusions and recommendations emanating from the dialogues will be conveyed directly to the heads of State and Government gathering in Rio.”