• Mekong Chula

Raising Awareness on the Importance of Lancang-Mekong River and Cooperation

Mukda Pratheepwatanawong:

ภาพจาก Xinhuanet.com

The Lancang-Mekong Cooperation forum, established by People’s Republican of China in the year 2016 [1], brought six countries (China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam) together to cooperate on a few matters. According to the official webpage of the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation, there 3+5 Cooperation Framework constituting of three cooperation pillars which are 1. Political and security issues; 2. Economic and sustainable development; and 3. Social, cultural and people-to-people exchanges. The five key priority areas identified include connectivity, production capacity, cross-border economic cooperation, water resources, agriculture and poverty reduction [2]. With the progress that the mechanism has been making, Lancang-Mekong Cooperation aims at strengthening economic and social development of the six countries, improve the standard living of their people, narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor. Such achievement will also contribute towards achieving sustainable development goals, proposed by the United Nations. With reference to Middleton's [3] article on “Reciprocal transboundary cooperation on the Lancang-Mekong River: Towards an inclusive and ecological relationship”, the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation reflects China’s strategy to build a “multilateral engagement” with mainland Southeast Asia as well as establishing its leadership role in for Lancang-Mekong countries.

On one hand, it could be said that the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation is another significant regional cooperation that attempts to bring the six countries to collaborate to enhance connectivity in the region [4]. Moreover, the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation emphasizes on new areas for cooperation that relate economic issues to water resource management [5]. With millions of people depending on the Lancang-Mekong River as part of their daily life, Lancang-Mekong Cooperation had clearly drawn out the next move for sustainable development collaboration work to be done in the region. As people share the same river and live together through the connectivity of the river, the Lancang-Mekong River should therefore be preserved.

The Lancang-Mekong Cooperation use of state-centered approach could be a challenge to broad-based public acceptance [3]. Although the water management is not the only issue of the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation, everyone should still take the responsibility to manage and preserve the water in Lancang-Mekong River. Therefore, government officers, researchers and the different groups of stakeholder of the different countries in Lancang-Mekong Cooperation should regularly come together to brainstorm, propose and develop their ideas to enhance the output and outcome of the cooperation. With efficient management and appropriate public relations work, the issue of water resource management should regularly be promoted in both new media and old media across the Lancang-Mekong region, in order to fully raise awareness on the importance of the river and the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation.

To conclude, countries of the Lancang-Mekong can cooperate and take action to protect the Lancang-Mekong River at individual level, community level, national level and regional level. With regards to raising young people’s awareness their participation, this can be done through education at different levels and having campaigns to amplify the importance of water resource management in the river. In other words, we must raise awareness through dialogues and cooperation. Stakeholders must collaborate and work together to protect the river. Outcome of collaboration has to be measurable. With the development of communication technology and the increased in internet and social media penetration, raising young people’s awareness of river can be done through written and visual content published on social media, which is an interactive and spreadable way of communication. We must find influential people who can help us to on this matter.


[1] Prayut set for vital Mekong Region: Six nations tipped to approve 5-year plan. (2018). Bangkok Post. 5 January, 2018

[2] A brief introduction of Lancang-Mekong Cooperation. (2017). Retrieved October 17, 2018, from http://www.lmcchina.org/eng/gylmhz_1/jj/t1519110.htm

[3] Middleton, C. (2018). Reciprocal transboundary cooperation on the Lancang-Mekong River: Towards an inclusive and ecological relationship. Bangkok.

[4] Harris, M. (2018, January 10). Can regional cooperation secure the Mekong’s future? Bangkok Post.

[5] Middleton, C., & Allouche, J. (2016). Watershed or powershed? Critical Hydropolitics, China and the “Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Framework.” The International Spectator, 51(3), 100–117.


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