Strengthening Groundwater Governance in Rapidly Urbanizing Areas of the Lower Mekong Region

Groundwater plays a crucial role in the water security, poverty reduction and sustainable development of the Mekong region. However, in many countries either the groundwater is under-utilized or over exploited and at the same time affected by multiple stresses such as rapid urbanization, population growth, climate change and climate variability. Lack of good groundwater governance, absence of groundwater policies and laws, groundwater institutions, stakeholders’ participation and fragmented groundwater management with other aspects of socio-economic developments led to unsustainable management of groundwater in the Mekong region. The unsustainable management groundwater in the region, especially in rapidly urbanizing areas bring conflict among different sectors and vulnerable population such as poor, marginalized and ethnic people. Therefore, this project aims to evaluate the current state of groundwater governance in the region and recommend ways to improve or strengthen the groundwater governance based on evidence-based understanding of groundwater availability, its use and potential conflicts under multiple stresses in the future. The project is implemented through four case studies in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

Keywords water insecurity, human rights, conflict sensitivity, groundwater institutional and policy framework

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Investigating the Miraculous Growth of the Thai Cassava Processing Industry

Thailand is the world’s No.1 exporter of processed cassava products, especially tapioca starch powder. Any other country pales in comparison. While it is well known that tapioca production and export have grown dramatically over the last several decades in Thailand, it is not widely known why this industry has grown so successfully only in Thailand. Our major research question is whether the growth and development of this industry were driven by substantial foreign direct investment. Qualitative interviews with selected factories were conducted in in Nakhon Ratchasima Province in November 2019. To further investigate the mechanism of growth, the project will conduct a structured questionnaire survey with owners and/or managing directors of various cassava processing factories in the nation in partnership with the Thai Tapioca Starch Association. Through the survey, we will collect information on their profile, practices, performance, relationship with other value chain actors as well as the Tapioca Starch Association. the operation size at present and in the past, sources of technology and market information, history of mergers and acquisitions, composition of nationalities of capital, and constraints on further growth.

Keywords industrial growth, cassava, tapioca, foreign direct investment, technology transfer

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Trade Hub

Thousands of species are threatened globally with extinction, there has been a swift decline in biodiversity and ecosystem resilience and people are being kept in poverty as trade in wildlife and agricultural commodities from low and middle-income countries has rapidly increased. The Trade Hub includes economists, trade modellers, political scientists, ecologists, development scientists, large companies, UN bodies and NGOs who will work together across supply chains to influence trade related policy and practice. It will also produce research to help ensure that trade becomes a driver of positive change in the world, with biodiversity loss halted and people permanently lifted out of poverty. The Hub will select trades that are already having, of have the potential to have, a major impact on biodiversity, as well as those that are important for local livelihoods:

  • bamboo and rattan
  • live animals
  • skins of animals
  • wild meatocoa
  • coffee
  • palm oil
  • rubber
  • soy beans
  • sugar

Emerging trades, for example in crops such as bush mango and the African cherry, will also be studied as examples of wild-sourced species that are being gradually domesticated into agricultural systems. These various trades will be studied within eight countries, chosen for being in different stages of economic development as well as producing a wide range of wildlife and agricultural products: Brazil, China, Cameroon, Gabon, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, and Indonesia. The project will study how different systems of trade have affected biodiversity from a biophysical, social, political and economic point of view, and trace the impact of the supply chain all the way from supplier to consumer countries via trading companies. As well as feeding into public policy advice, this research will also help companies understand their products’ true environmental impact all the way back to the raw materials.

Keywords Trade, Brexit, Sustainability, Biodiversity, Equitable Growth

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