Youth and the Mekong River: Our destiny is linked to the same river

Youth from the countries in the Lancang-Mekong Region reimagined the word "home" and what it means to say Lancang-Mekong is our home.

Sovannarong Tim By Sovannarong Tim - Mar 24, 2024

“Strengthening collaboration among Lancang-Mekong youth and young professionals is a long-term commitment comprising a sense of inclusiveness and diversity; we must strengthen collaboration between transboundary countries," said H.E Dr. Fidero Kuok, Under Secretary of State, the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology, and Innovation, Cambodia, at the Regional Consultation Workshop: Building Water Sector Youth Leadership Network in the Lancang-Mekong Region.

Our Home, Our Future was one of the youth engagement activities during this regional consultation workshop. As a group of young representatives from each country in the Lancang-Mekong Region, we reimagined the word "home": what does a Lancang-Mekong home mean to each of us? Our diverse perspectives, cultures, and experiences inspired us to define home as H for harmony, O for openness, M for motivation, and E for ecology. In this context, our home referred to the same river, and our future was a shared destiny.

As part of the workshop, we visited the Mekong School. Mr. Niwat Roykeaw, Director of the Mekong School, stated during the consultation workshop's site visit that young people, with their fresh perspectives, embody the future and hope of the Lancang-Mekong River.

Young people are the foundation of every nation. With the right mentorship and support, they will become the leaders in advocacy efforts concerning social justice and inclusive economic development that are interconnected in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


Imagine! How hard could it be to agree on a particular issue when people come from different walks of life, speak other languages, and hold different perspectives? There are 398 different languages spoken in five of the Mekong countries. According to Nature and Our Future: The Mekong Basin and Japan, this corresponds to 5.8% of the 6,909 languages listed on Ethnologue as spoken worldwide.

Therefore, young people play a vital role in bringing people together in multicultural settings by respecting each other's differences and working together to achieve common goals. In addition, with their new insight and no political agenda, youth can communicate effectively and open-mindedly.


Openness is one of their core values for young people who are change agents. Simply put, no procedure is necessary when connecting with them. Furthermore, during the consultation workshop's site visit at the Mekong School, everyone welcomed diversity and learned from one another without hesitation while maintaining respect.


A home without motivation is not a complete home. First, the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) is a new type of sub-regional cooperation mechanism featuring extensive consultation and joint contributions from the partner countries. One of the three pillars of the multilateral LMC mechanism is a partnership between the six riparian countries, enabling social, cultural, and people-to-people exchange cooperation. Second, young people are the driving force behind Lancang-Mekong Cooperation.


The Mekong, being one of the longest rivers globally, offers its inhabitants a reliable source of fish and several other benefits. It encompasses a variety of ecosystems upon which millions of people, from farmers to fishers and workers, depend for their lives, cultures, and livelihoods.

*Photo 1: Mekong River, Chiang Rai, Thailand. Photo: Variya Plungwatana / SEI Asia.

*Photo 2: Group activities at Mekong school. Photo: Variya Plungwatana / SEI Asia.

*Photo 3: Chiang Khong map. Photo: Variya Plungwatana / SEI Asia.



Water Governance


Thailand, Mekong

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Building research for policy towards sustainable development in the Mekong Region

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