Wooden boats on the Mekong Delta, southern Vietnam

Wooden boats in the Mekong Delta, southern Vietnam. Photo: alxpin / Getty Images .

The journey from water government to governance that includes civil society organizations (CSOs) in a collaborative partnership requires more than just current water management bodies listening to CSOs and other voices. There must be structural reasons for making the transition.

All Mekong countries have agreed to deliver the sustainable development goals and past transboundary Mekong assessments have shown that these are not being achieved through established government structures. Change is needed and civil society organizations across the Mekong are ready to be part of the governance solution for “benefits to all basin countries and peoples.”

The change toward water governance for the Mekong is a journey for all actors, where power, resources and responsibility are given up by some actors and shared with others. These are new and challenging times. The move away from hydrocracy will mean a move away from technocratic solutions toward livelihoods options with shared responsibility for delivery.