Water Diplomacy Development in the Chao Phraya River Basin

From AquaPedia Case Study Database
Jump to: navigation, search

About this Article
Contributed by:[tsp@sloan.mit.edu Siripong (Pong) Treetasanatavorn]

Contributor Perspective(s): Observer
Article last edited 11 May 2014 by TSP
Article originally added by TSP

What is an ASI Article? Individuals may add their own Analysis, Synthesis, and Insight (ASI) to a case by linking a case to an ASI article. These ASI articles are protected, so that each person who creates a section retains control of their own content. Please use the discussion page for commenting on this article. Learn More

This article is linked to Integrated Management and Diplomacy Development of the Chao Phraya River Basin

Applying the Water Diplomacy Framework to this specific case, the author proposes the following discussion as an effort to improve the current practices. In a nutshell, one should revisit basic assumptions and consider if the implied logics could lead to new logical interpretations.

What is the most important management practice to build a collaborative adaptive environment to manage tensions and conflicts between stakeholders?

The Chao Phraya River Basin is an extensive network of natural and human-made constructions that are both open and continuously changing, and subject to a large set of both manageable and unmanageable time-variant unknowns. Taking this aspect into consideration, managers should be mindful that no single decision should be made as absolute, irrevocable and unchallengeable. Rather, every party should be aware of uncertainties and unpredictability of the circumstances, such that every decision should be made based on the best collective knowledge that must be reassessed and potentially corrected regularly particularly once new relevant information is available. In political terms, this is a prerequisite to manage tensions and conflicts among stakeholders in a collaborative, adaptive and inclusive manner.

For example, the decision on the annual amount of water release from major dams should rather be made on a continual basis with close monitoring of the basin dynamics that may, as a result, lead to continual fine-tuning or corrections of the prior decisions. At the same time, the managers should remain nonpartisan and impartial in the information collection and interpretation, such that the decision to be made should be based on facts, rather than biases and prejudices.

Should the Water Diplomacy Framework be incorporated to the Master Plan? And if so, how could this initiative be implemented?

I believe that with public participation in the discussion over the priority and implementation practicality considering natural, societal and economic concerns, the Master Plan could be extended to address at least some aspects of the Water Diplomacy Framework.

First and foremost, it is vital to recognize that water is a dynamic resource that may not necessarily have to be perceived as a contentious medium for a zero-sum negotiation. One possible way forward may rely on the improvement of water resource efficiency and equity. This effort could be maximized in an orchestrated collaborative and complementary manner. Such could be applied in both contexts of drought and flood management as well as long-term environmental protection of the entire basin across natural, societal, economic and political realms as one integrative logical unit.

Second, the management process should not only be formed, organized and driven by considering the dynamic of the water resources, but also focused on the learning of the management organization and particularly stakeholders, constituents and affected citizens. It is only through cooperation, adaptation, and continuous learning from the ground that would likely produce a robust and sustainable system. The latter is non-negligible also in the sense of natural sources and biodiversity protection particularly in the upstream basin. Key is to strike a delicate balance between:

  • Preserving and enhancing primary natural resources such as reforestation toward the long-term water security end; and
  • Managing the short-term practicality from resource scarcity or abundance (drought and flooding) affecting the integrity and self-sufficiency of agricultural, industrial and urban management.

Third, the management of a complex network of resources of the Chao Phraya River Basin should be driven by a coherent and inclusive policy and political practice that directs the implementation of the concerted efforts, conducive to a long-term desirable result for people of the nation. This end result should be an ultimate objective of the entire engagement.

How can the administration gain political credibility when there is so much mistrust by the general public?

The management of the basin should focus on the consensus building and value creation among stakeholders, decision-making parties and affected citizens. The entire engagement should focus on the long-term objectives with citizens living in the basin as well as in the country. Only with this direction setting, the administration shall be able to:

  • Bring together stakeholders (despite with different interests), set up an atmosphere for each party to share concerns and constraints openly and seek to establish a common understanding of the situation;
  • Direct group energy in an orchestrated effort to solving large-scale, complex problems consisting of short- and long-term challenges; and
  • Forge an agreement and implementation roadmap that interconnects decisions across natural, societal and political domains, thereby increasing the likelihood of a successful long-term cooperation.

Over time, the administration would then be able to gradually gain credibility and trust as a result of such transparent, thorough and inclusive efforts, with the citizens coming together solving the problems: on the basis of shared common understanding, toward a vision that builds a better future together for themselves, and with the administration only in an orchestrating role.


The author would like to acknowledge valuable comments from Joyce Cheung and Itamar Shahar, also to Professor Lawrence Susskind and the entire Water Diplomacy class discussion on May 1, 2014. See further details about MIT Water Diplomacy at http://dusp.mit.edu/epp/project/water-diplomacy and Class 11.382 WATER DIPLOMACY: THE SCIENCE, POLICY AND POLITICS OF MANAGING SHARED RESOURCES at http://dusp.mit.edu/subject/spring-2014-11382-0

Facts about "Water Diplomacy Development in the Chao Phraya River Basin"RDF feed
ASIASI:Water Diplomacy Development in the Chao Phraya River Basin +
ASIContributor Siripong (Pong) Treetasanatavorn +
Article CreatorTSP +
Case StudyIntegrated Management and Diplomacy Development of the Chao Phraya River Basin +
Last Edited11 May 2014 +
Last Edited UserTSP +
PerspectiveObserver +
Reflection Text Summary Diplomacy Development Cornerstones:
  • Def Diplomacy Development Cornerstones:
  • Define long-term engagement objectives: people
  • Recognise the challenges: management of uncertainties
  • Focus on consensus building & adaptive learning
  • Strike a balance between preserving natural resources and managing the short-term practicalitys and managing the short-term practicality +