The Mekong Thought Leadership and Think Tanks Network program aims to work with knowledge-based policy influence organizations in the Mekong Region. The 3-year program will develop clear and actionable evidence-based solutions to water, energy, and development challenges in the Mekong Region to bring about positive changes in policy and practice.
The Mekong Region has faced sustainability challenges related to water, energy, and changing climate. There are also inequities in the rapid development of the subregion, in which local communities have benefited little from this development. The poorest and most vulnerable bear the brunt of these changes due to their close connection to, and dependency on, natural resources. In addressing these inequities and ensuring that no one is left behind, there is a need for clear and actionable evidence-based development options along with tangible solutions that would support positive changes in policy and practice for sustainable futures for all.
The Mekong Thought Leadership and Think Tanks Network Program aims to work with national and regional knowledge-based policy influence organizations (KBPIOs), including think tanks, to enhance their effectiveness and inclusiveness in policy engagement. This will be combined with communications based on high-quality research, practical advice generated by the program, cross-learning among relevant organizations in the subregion, and drawing upon relevant Australian and other expertise and experiences in water security, energy security, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.
The Mekong Think Tanks program will achieve this through supporting and facilitating evidence-based research and analysis, engagement with regional and national KBPIOs, effective dialogue with decision-makers, and professional development for agents of change in the Mekong Region. The program will deliver high-quality, inclusive research and policy advice on governance, socio-economic values, benefits, and risks associated with water, energy, and the environment to achieve resilience to future climates at the regional and national levels. This research will also strive to address gender and social inclusion in all research projects while providing gender support and capacity development to all research teams. This is aimed at enhancing the inclusiveness of the research and policy advice created by the program.
This program will create opportunities for KBPIOs to engage with policy stakeholders by organizing regional and national policy forums. These forums will be the platforms for KBPIOs to deliberate high-level issues around governance, development, and equity in water resources, energy, and the environment within the context of climate change, utilizing the research supported by the Program.
What are KBPIO’s?
Knowledge-based policy influence organizations (KBPIOs) are entities and organizations that generate evidence-based knowledge, comment, analyze, or propose policies that aim to influence policy processes at various levels. We will expand our work on ‘KBPIOs’ to include a range of entities and organizations that generate evidence-based knowledge, comment, analyze, or propose policies that aim to influence policy processes.
The 3-year Mekong Thought Leadership and Think Tanks Network program aims to work with knowledge-based policy influence organizations in the Mekong Region. We will develop clear and actionable evidence-based solutions to water, energy, and development challenges in the Mekong Region to bring about positive changes in policy and practice. Please see this short video that illustrates what we aim to achieve and how we will get there.
To contribute to improved and more equitable water and energy security, adaptation, and mitigation of climate change in the Mekong Subregion to benefit all, especially the marginalized, vulnerable, and at-risk communities.
Water, energy, and climate research and policy interfaces are robust and more inclusive, resulting in more effective and equitable policies, which are cross-sectoral, informed by evidence, and respond to vulnerable groups’ needs.
By developing a regional network or alliance of KBPIOs, the program aims to:
Strengthen the role and effectiveness of national and regional KBPIOs in engaging with national and regional policy processes on water and energy security and climate change mitigation and adaptation
Strengthen the role and capabilities of national and regional KBPIOs in inclusive knowledge co-production processes by engaging with stakeholders across sectors, locations, and countries on water, climate, and energy issues and their interlinkages.
Enhance the capacity for networking of national and regional KBPIOs and build the capacity of young professionals in delivering research and communicating and engaging with policy processes.
Scoping study of KBPIOs
Design and establishment of the regional alliance or network of KBPIOs
Mekong think tanks flagship studies
Rapid response funds
Training and capacity-building activities
Development of a young professional network
Annual regional forum
The Program is governed through the Program Steering Committee, the Program Secretariat, and Program Advisors. These bodies contribute to ensuring effective, efficient, and accountable implementation of the Program.
Program Steering Committee
Niall O’Connor, SEI Asia, Thailand (Chair)
Louis Lebel, USER, Thailand (member)
Darren Sinclair, UC, Australia (member)
Wijarn Simachaya, TEI, Thailand (member)
Ngin Chanrith, CDRI, Cambodia (member)
Phoummixay Siharath, NOUL, Laos (member)
Karen Delfau, IWCAN, Australia (member)
Truong Dao Thanh, IPAM, Vietnam (member)
Dwight Ronan, DFAT, Australia/Thailand (member)
Ngin Chanrith (CDRI), Component 1 Advisor
Chu Thai Hoanh, Component 1 Advisor
Andrew Noble, Component 1 Advisor
Francis Johnson (SEI), Component 2 Advisor
Pichamon Yeopanthong, Components 2 & 4 Advisor
Wijarn Simachaya (TEI), Component 3 Advisor
Klomjit Chandrapanya, Component 3 Advisor
Karen Delfau (IWCAN), Component 5 Advisor
Frederick Bouckaert (IWCAN), Component 5 Advisor
Chayanis Krittasudthacheewa (SEI), Program Director & Component 1 Lead
Agus Nugroho (SEI), Program Manager and Component 5 Lead
Boripat Lebel (USER), Coordinator for Component 1, 2 and 4
Five components of the Mekong Thought Leadership and Think Tanks Network Program / Graphic: SEI Asia.
The program partnership comprises 25 organizations, including eight consortium members, that not only help to ensure technical competency across the water, energy, and climate domain but also draw upon critical insights and connections.
Stockholm Environment Institute – Asia Centre (SEI Asia), Thailand (Lead)
Unit for Social and Environmental Research (USER), Chiang Mai University, Thailand (Co-lead)
Centre for Change Governance, University of Canberra, Australia (Co-lead)
Cambodia Research and Development Institute (CDRI), Cambodia
Faculty of Engineering, National University of Laos (NUOL), Lao PDR
Thailand Environment Institute (TEI), Thailand
Institute of Policy and Management (IPAM), Vietnam
International Water Centre Alumni Network (IWCAN), Australia
Graphic: SEI Asia.
The program also has 17 counterparts: UNSW, RUPP, ITC, IFReDI, NAFRI, NAFC, NERI, GMS Centre of MSU, MFU, SET of AIT, ERI, SPP of CMU, VNMC, Viet Insight, WASI, MRCS, WWF Regional Asia-Pacific Office from 4 Mekong countries and Australia to support the implementation of the program activities.
The program views that investing in diverse entry- or mid-level professionals of all genders working in research and policy engagement is essential to enhance their capacity to produce and promote practical and sustainable solutions. The program will spearhead capacity building for entry- or mid-level professionals through fellowships and trainings.
The first round of fellowships, launched in April 2023, successfully awarded seven fellows. This call is seeking to recruit at least 13 high-quality fellows.
Timeline: Available to commit to a 12-month fellowship full-time or a maximum of 17 months part-time to end no later than June 2025.
Application deadline: 30 September 2023, 23:59 (Bangkok/Indochina time)
The Mekong Thought Leadership and Think Tanks Network Program (MTT) is opening calls for research-to-policy proposals that seek practical solutions to urgent or emerging challenges in the water-energy-climate nexus.
Calls open for two types of grants:
1. Flagship Research Studies
Funding: Total grants of AUD 1,000,000 (~USD 652,000) are available to award up to 4 research projects. Support will not exceed 250,000 AUD (~USD 163,000) per research project.
Timeline: Work to be completed within 1.5 years (18 months) from contract signing or agreed upon start date.
Application deadline: 1 October 2023, 23:59 (Bangkok/Indochina time)
Flagship studies are one of the key activities of the MTT Program that aim to enhance evidence-based understanding of the Water-Energy-Climate (WEC) nexus, including through the lens of gender and social equity. The work motivates the application of this knowledge to practical, robust, and equitable policy solutions to persistent and emerging issues and challenges.
Funding: Total grants of AUD 350,000 (~USD 230,000) are available to award up to seven research projects. Support will not exceed 50,000 AUD (~USD 33,000) per rapid response project project.
Timeline: Work to be completed be completed within one year (12 months) from contract signing or agreed upon start date.
Application deadline: 1 October 2023, 23:59 (Bangkok/Indochina time)
Rapid response grants are one of the key knowledge-generating activities of the MTT Program. These are more flexible grants than the flagship grants and aim to support focused interdisciplinary research projects that seek practical solutions to urgent or emerging challenges in the water-energy-climate nexus.