Water resources security in mainland Southeast Asia


CSCAP Cambodia, CSCAP Japan, CSCAP Thailand and CSCAP Vietnam.


Mainland Southeast Asia is home to about 224 million people and a majority of which live on its major rivers and lakes. For instance, the Mekong River alone is the source of livelihood for more than 100 million people, providing 1.8 million tons of fish and shrimp a year. Many rivers and lakes, however, have been polluted and, in some places, contaminated at an alarming speed. The region's biological diversity is in greater danger.

Water resources security can also be linked to climate change. The lower level of rivers combined with a higher sea level can form a twin threat to the region which has a long civilization and culture that is based on paddy rice production. Moreover, water resources security is directly related to food security. As the biggest rice exporters are from the mainland Southeast Asia, crop failures in the region also means insufficiency of rice elsewhere. And as a result, not only the livelihood of millions of people in the mainland Southeast Asia are badly affected but that of a larger population in other regions could be indirectly influenced as well.

In short, securing water resources is of great importance to the promotion of sustainable development of local economies and the betterment, and indeed, the security of millions of peoples' lives.

In a wider context, securing water resources is also of great importance to regional security, for disputes - based on the belief that water resources are not being exploited in sustainable and fair manners by user states - could harm friendly and cooperative relations between and among countries in the region. At the same time, effective management of, and satisfactory solutions to, these disputes could consolidate mutual confidence and trust, boost bilateral and regional cooperation, and facilitate the performance of regional mechanisms and regimes designed to promote cooperation for the sustainable development of water resources in the region.

Last but not least, experiences in disputes and cooperation between and among countries in the region could also be shared with other regions where similar problems related to water resources security have been detected.

Specific agenda

The specific agenda of this study group will cover the following areas:


CSCAP Memorandum and possible publication of outcomes of the study group.


The study group has held the following meetings.

A third meeting of this study group will e held on 7-8 February 2012 in Tokyo, Japan.

2nd Meeting: 15-16 July 2011, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Download the Co-Chair's report.

1st Meeting: 22-23 March 2011, Hanoi, Vietnam.
Download the Co-Chair's report.