On October 15-16, 2020, the East-West Center, together with the US State Department, and supported by Meridian International Center, organized and hosted the Indo-Pacific Conference on Strengthening Governance of Transboundary Rivers. The half-day, virtual conference brought together partners, stakeholders, government officials, and leading experts from across and beyond the Indo-Pacific region to discuss and share lessons learned related to governance practices and cooperative management of transboundary rivers. Through an open and constructive dialogue, participants agreed that key stakeholders in the Mekong River basin -- the Mekong River Commission (MRC), Mekong region national governments, ASEAN and ACMECS; international stakeholders in the region, and civil society organizations (CSOs) -- should actively engage with each other, cooperate to develop a transparent data-sharing mechanism, and encourage greater inclusion of non-state actors in the decision-making process.
In conjunction with the conference, a report was created to summarize the findings, and a series of Asia Pacific Bulletins (1000-word analytical pieces) were written by the conference panelists and published by the East-West Center. The conference report is now available to the public, and contains the latest news and ideas from thought-leaders in the field of transboundary river governance. All of these efforts come as the East-West Center in Washington adds a Mekong section to its flagship Asia Matters for America website. The Mekong Matters for America initiative (formed in partnership with the Stimson Center) highlights important events and data in the US-Mekong relationship, and serves as a locus for research on the region.
Peter Valente and Lam Tran are a Programs Coordinator and a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington, respectively.