Dialogue Forum 4 on The Mekong runs dry? Governance in transition: A close look at current rules and geopolitics at play was held on 29 July 2020 by SEA Junction, in collaboration with its partners, Bangkok Tribune News Agency; Thai Society of Environmental Journalists; Project SEVANA South-East Asia, and with the support of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (Thailand Office).
The forum investigated whether geopolitics in the region still influences decisions made in regard to development. There are partial, in other words not fully, cooperation and yet competition among states. The water data sharing, a foundation of cooperation, has been partial, selective, conditional and thus political. The data should be shared but the more critical question is how to share and what mechanism to utilize. The speakers also discussed whether existing mechanisms to regulate water use and mitigate impacts are efficient enough for speeding the trend of development in the Mekong. The Mekong River Commission (MRC) established by the 1995 Agreement has remained to be a main, but seemingly inadequate, mechanism for data sharing and negotiation. Lack of data democratization and public disclosure affect the accountable decision-making. The transparent and institutionalized data-sharing platform is needed in the promotion of regional discussion and further cooperation.