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Basin Planning

The Lower Mekong Basin is experiencing a rapid development boom. Demand for food, water and energy will increase as a result of economic growth, industrialisation and urbanisation.

Despite the surge in economic growth, millions of people still live in poverty. To a large extent, sustainable basin planning in the Lower Mekong Basin is one link between poverty eradication and economic development.

Due to these complexities, there is a call for a coordinated or integrated approach to basin planning to secure the equitable use of the Mekong’s water resources. This approach is commonly referred to as Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and aims to support effective and efficient management of water and related resources at the transboundary and cross-sector level.

Basin Development Strategy

In response to the need to coordinate basin planning at the transboundary, or regional level, Lower Mekong Basin (LMB) countries adopted the IWRM-based Basin Development Strategy (BDS) in 2011. The Strategy sets out how Mekong Countries will share, utilise, manage and conserve the Mekong water and related resources to achieve the goals of the 1995 Mekong Agreement.

The Strategy progresses beyond national and sector planning. It moves towards comprehensive basin planning that addresses the Mekong’s future development opportunities, challenges and risks in the water sector as well as in fisheries, navigation, flood and drought, tourism, watershed management and environment.

The MRC updates the strategy every five years. The Basin Development Strategy 2016-2020 takes a long-term outlook, and examines longer-term needs for the development of water resources. It focuses on achieving the sustainable development of the LMB and adapting national plans to address longer-term needs and provide a comprehensive response to climate change and other challenges. 

The Strategy’s implementation will require commitment from all Mekong Countries to best manage the future of the River’s water resources.

Role of the MRC

In an effort to ensure the sustainable development of the Basin’s water and related resources for the benefit of all riparian countries, the Mekong River Comission (MRC)'s Planning Division is responsible for basin and sector planning, including support to the National Indicative Plans (NIPs) and basin-wide assessments, coordination of the implementation of the MRC Procedures, and stakeholder engagement in the basin planning process.