Integrating climate change into regional disaster risk management at the Mekong River Commission, SCR Discussion Paper 4


The Flood Mitigation and Management Programme (FMMP) of the Mekong River Commission provides a regional disaster risk management programme through which to explore progress towards and opportunities for integrating climate change into disaster risk management at a regional level. The Climate Smart Disaster Risk Management (CSDRM) approach (see page 36) being developed through the Strengthening Climate Resilience Consortium is used as an analytical framework to explore key components of the FMMP’s work, alongside the development of the MRC’s newly launched Climate Change Adaptation Initiative and efforts to integrate climate information into basin development planning. The case is then used to provide lessons on opportunities and challenges for a more integrated approach to DRM at basin wide, regional or transboundary levels. The transition to a more climate smart approach for four regional flood risk management functions are explored: joint analysis of common resources for scenario-based planning and decision-making; joint capacity building for flood risk management; development of methods, standards and guidelines for flood risk management for national application; and tackling specific transboundary flood risks. This work is already supporting national governments to be more prepared for extreme flood events. A CSDRM approach requires integration of climate change information from different sources into all elements of flood risk management, and increased attention to understanding and tackling changing disaster risks and uncertainty, enhancing adaptive capacity and addressing poverty, vulnerability and their structural causes. The FMMP, as a regional technical support programme, of a government led transboundary river basin management authority is in a strong position to contribute to understanding and tackling changing flood risks and uncertainty at different levels, and is contributing to adaptive capacity at a regional and state level through joint learning and capacity building on considering climate impacts in flood risk management. A key contribution has been developing forecasting capacities and developing approaches to integrating flood risk management in development planning at commune, district and provincial levels. It has been less able to engage directly with addressing poverty and differentiated vulnerability to flood risks. Addressing transboundary flood risks in the Mekong Basin are embedded in the politics of transboundary water governance more broadly, and in the Mekong Region the geo-politics of water governance are complex and influenced by the historical legacies of international at the Mekong River Commission Integrating climate change: Mekong River Commission 3 financiers such as the Asian Development Bank and plans to harness the ‘untapped potential’ of the Mekong River for hydropower. Transitions in the MRC Secretariat’s approach to improving public dialogue, mediation and concern with rigorous analysis and risk management still stand to be side-lined by pursuit of national interests in dams and difficulties in curbing other forms of land use change that are impacting on flow regimes and flood risk. In this context, many aspects of a CSDRM approach appear particularly relevant to enabling the MRC to support effective flood risk management at different levels in a changing climate. These aspects include: bringing together diverse actors (climate scientists, ecosystems analysts, social development organisations); developing innovative, reflective and regular approaches to learning for sustained capacity building and integration of new information over time; understanding differentiated vulnerability to flood risks and approaches to risk management; enforcement of regional or effective mediation through transboundary water management agreements.


Polack, E. Integrating climate change into regional disaster risk management at the Mekong River Commission, SCR Discussion Paper 4. (2010) : 39 pp.

Integrating climate change into regional disaster risk management at the Mekong River Commission, SCR Discussion Paper 4

Published 1 January 2010