Project Description

Measuring, Understanding and Adapting to Nexus trade-offs in the 3S River Basins

Donor: US Department of State   |   Partners:  IUCN with ICEM and IWMI   |    Duration: 2016-2018   |    Location: Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia

About: The Sekong, Sesan and Sre Pok are transboundary tributaries of the Mekong River. The 3S basins, as they are collectively known, are richly endowed with natural resources and make an important contribution to national and regional development while supporting the livelihoods of 3.5 million people living in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. However, there is a critical need to understand and respond to the risks inherent in the current “growth at all costs” paradigm.

Purpose: To improve the quality of planning and investment in the 3S region by undertaking activities in three consecutive “streams”:

  • Stream 1 will focus on the preparation of a Nexus assessment. This will compile and synthesize the wealth of existing data and information on the 3S basins in order to identify trade-offs among decisions and the social and economic risks that accompany these decisions;
  • In Stream 2, the findings and recommendations of the Nexus assessment will be included in regional decision making processes by training central and provincial government officials in all three countries on the Nexus approach and by supporting the integration of the results of the 3S nexus assessment into specific development planning;
  • In Stream 3, carefully tailored regional dialogues will be organized, involving government officials from all the Lower Mekong Basin countries, including representatives from key diplomatic and economic regional platforms. The 3S basins will be presented as a case study, to demonstrate how the Nexus assessment can be used as a technical tool to support and strengthen regional water diplomacy and economic growth. In order to reach a wider public audience, the media will also be invited to selected site involvement in the 3S. In addition, regional academic institutions will be supported to adapt the training materials for use in their graduate programs on Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and hydropower, to ensure the sustainability of the learning provided by the project and the dissemination of tools and methods.

The project will be co-funded by the Building River Dialogue and Governance programme (BRIDGE), a nine-year, global initiative led by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) which aims to support hydrodiplomacy in major river basins, including the 3S. Platforms and mechanisms established by BRIDGE involving both government and civil society representatives will be activated for this project

The study will be led by IUCN with ICEM and International Water Management Institute (IWMI) as partners. ICEM’s contribution to this study is primarily to support the nexus assessment. Based largely on literature review and guided by the Technical Advisory Group (TAG), ICEM will contribute to understanding of the current condition in the basin with a focus on environmental and ecological status and trends. The assessment will also include analysis of past and possible future trends based on development plans and drivers of change

  • Objectives and outcomes of the Nexus assessment:

By adopting a Nexus approach to evaluating past studies and information, the study team and TAG members have an in-depth understanding of the state of the 3S basins and the inter-linkages (conflicts and synergies) between water-related sectors (agriculture, fisheries, hydropower and domestic) including drivers of change and the social implications. This understanding enables the study team/TAG to appreciate the context in which investment and water resource planning and management decisions are being made and, in light of this, to make recommendations on integrated management of water, food, energy and the environment that contribute to sustainability and improved resilience to climate change. The assessment will demonstrate the value of a Nexus approach and underpin the dialogue and capacity building initiatives undertaken in Streams 2 and 3.