Embracing multiple water worlds: Policy and practice of water governance in Thailand and beyond [Online, 31 May 2022]

Co-hosted by The Regional Center for Social Science and Sustainable Development, Chiang Mai University (RCSD); Chulalongkorn University Social Research Institute (CUSRI); Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, Chulalongkorn University; Center for Social Development Studies, Chulalongkorn University (CSDS); College of Politics and Governance , Mahasarakham University; Faculty of Science and Social Sciences, Burapha University Sakaeo Campus.

Oung Kham Oo By Oung Kham Oo - May 30, 2022

This event will be hosted online via Zoom. Join here:

Historically until the present day, rivers are central features in rural and urban community culture and livelihoods in Thailand, including for agricultural practices, fishing and harvesting other aquatic and wetland resources, and transportation. In recent decades, rivers in Thailand have been transformed by accelerating processes of economic modernization, including by the construction and operation of large-scale water infrastructures such as irrigation schemes and hydropower dams as human demand for water for agriculture, industry, hydroelectricity and domestic consumption has grown.  Large-scale water infrastructure has progressively transformed river basins at the local to basin-wide scale, bringing benefits to some and harm to others. Transformations have also occurred in terms of how water is governed, with earlier community governance practices being replaced by more centralized management in river basin organizations and at the national level. 

The difficulty of reconciling healthy rivers and sustainable development is not unique to Thailand. Globally, the challenges for rivers are profound, which range from the declining biodiversity of increasingly modified river systems, to declining water quality due to polluting human activity, to the impacts of climate change. Recent academic and civil society research conducted in Thailand has drawn attention to how multiple worldviews underpin contrasting visions for rivers and their role in ‘development.’ This mirrors a comparable recognition in some other regions of the world where the diverse meanings and values of rivers have been viewed as important to governing water and creating policies towards achieving just and inclusive development. These approaches have ranged from revitalizing the commons, to critical reflections on the ‘nexus’ between water, food and energy, to recognizing the ‘rights of rivers.’

The purpose of this seminar is to share recent research on the water policy and practices and its impacts especially on community livelihoods and culture in Thailand, and to contextualize the findings by engaging in discussion with innovative approaches beyond Thailand.


Sustainable Mekong Research Network

Building research for policy towards sustainable development in the Mekong Region

Read more about SUMERNET

Sign up for our newsletter

Join us! Apply to become a member now