The Mekong Region has undergone a transformation in recent years, with rapid economic growth, a strong drive towards regional economic integration, and a gradual shift towards more open political systems. However, poverty and social inequality – including gender inequality – remain significant challenges in the region. Sustainability is a major concern, as environmental degradation takes a toll on both ecosystems and livelihoods, and competition over limited natural resources becomes increasingly common, often cutting across national boundaries.
With the purpose of supporting sustainable development in the Mekong Region, the Sustainable Mekong Research Network (SUMERNET) programme was established in 2005. SUMERNET aims to inform and influence sustainable development by supporting credible, collaborative research and regional assessment, stimulating independent discussions on key regional issues, and engaging with decision-makers and stakeholders to foster more effective and sustainable policies and programmes.
Since then, after the first two phases – Phase 1 (2005–2009) and Phase 2 (2010–2013), SUMERNET has now expanded to involve more than 100 researchers and 50 affiliated institutions across the region. Throughout this period, the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)-Asia Centre has hosted the programme Secretariat. SUMERNET partners lead interdisciplinary, cross-national studies on major policy issues; engage with policy-makers, planners and stakeholders; and build capacity among both researchers and policy-makers. At the end of the second phase, SUMERNET generated numerous research studies and findings as well as policy-relevant recommendations on sustainable development in the Mekong Region.
During Phase 2, ten collaborative research projects addressed various sustainable development issues under four themes:
- Ecosystem services, resource use and impacts
- Transboundary issues
- Energy and climate change
- Poverty and livelihoods
The policy briefings compiled in this booklet are the fruit of this collaborative research work and engagement with policymakers and other stakeholders by the SUMERNET partners. The briefings have been developed with consideration of policy relevancy and based on the engagement of the project team with local and national policymakers.
Written by Agus Nugroho on 06 Jun. 2014