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Uncertainty and Governance of Transboundary River Basins

Lebel, Louis, Ruben Zondervan. 2013. Uncertainty and Governance of Transboundary River Basins. APN Science Bulletin, 3 (March 2013): 146-147.


Report of the capacity building workshop on Governing Critical Uncertainties: Climate Change and Decision-Making in Transboundary River Basins, 21-23 January 2013, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The workshop has been organized by the Unit for Social and Environmental Research, Faculty of Social Sciences, Chiang Mai University and the Earth System Governance Project, and sponsored by the Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research and was endorsed by the Global Water System Project.

Aim of the workshop was to help increase understanding of the implications of analytical and normative uncertainties associated with climate change and other large-scale drivers for the governance of trans-boundary river basins. The participant mix in terms of countries, expertise and disciplines allowed for a critical perspective on issues in several key transboundary river basins including the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra and Mekong.

The deliberations underlined that in Asia complex power relations demand explicit consideration of normative uncertainty in addition to the conventional focus on analytical uncertainty. Power imbalances, for instance, were noted as an important barrier to flow of information and sharing of data that increase uncertainty. It was recognized that it is often easier and more appropriate for negotiations to focus on sharing the benefits of water than just on the allocation of physical water flows.  Participants and trainers jointly developed a set of propositions on uncertainty and the governance of transboundary river basins under a changing climate and committed to completing a co-authored synthesis article around some of these.

Keywords: Uncertainty, Governance, Transboundary River Basins, Asia, Politics



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