Southeast Asia—Mekong Adaptation and Resilience to Climate Change (ARCC)

Client: U.S. Agency for International Development

Duration: 2011-2016

Region: Asia and the Pacific

Country: Regional

Solutions: Environment and Energy

Sixty million people living in Southeast Asia’s Mekong River Basin are sustained by the river. This is especially true for the 75 percent whose livelihoods and food security depend on agriculture and fisheries, and who face grave threats from the impacts of climate change, including crop failure.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Mekong ARCC project bridged the knowledge gap between high-level science and local responses to help communities become more resilient. The project identified critical environmental, economic, and social impacts in the Lower Mekong Basin. We assisted select rural communities in Laos, PDR, Thailand, and Vietnam to strengthen their adaptation capacity in the face of climate change risks to water resources, agricultural systems, biodiversity, ecosystems, and livelihood opportunities.

Sample Activities

  • Build regional platform partnerships to act as knowledge centers of climate change adaptation.

  • Implement local initiatives in Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Vietnam that draw on indigenous experience and build capacity for making science-based decisions and policies.

  • Assess ecosystem services, including monetizing the impacts of climate change on crops and fisheries, to assist policymakers and planners in understanding tradeoffs between economic decisions and environmental impact.

  • Scale up successful pilots and promote their sustainability.

Select Results

  • Published a comprehensive, basin-wide Climate Change Impact and Adaptation Study that has informed the project’s selection of priority vulnerable provinces for activities.

  • Presented USAID Mekong ARCC to senior government officials from the region and the United States at the Lower Mekong Initiative Regional Working Group, a partnership of the Mekong riparian countries dedicated to building cooperation and capacity to address transnational issues.

  • Conducted preliminary analysis of the LMB that estimated at $34 billion the annual values at risk from climate change impacts on infrastructure services and assets, worker productivity, agricultural output, hydroelectrical power, and eco-system services.

  • Secured the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences’ commitment to promote the USAID Mekong ARCC model throughout Asia as part of their approach to climate change.

  • 64 percent of community members knowing at least one adaptation strategy (versus a baseline of 30 percent).

  • 58 percent of community members reported currently practicing adaptation (versus a baseline of 20 percent).

  • Tested 33 climate change adaptation tools or technologies at five field sites.

  • More than 1,000 hectares of biological significance or natural resources under improved management.

  • Strengthened eight regional platforms—including the Asian Development Bank, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Mekong River Commission, and UN World Food Programme.

  • Piloted participatory planning process for climate change adaptation in Chey Commune that was later adopted by the national commune investment planning process undertaken by Cambodia’s National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development.

  • Pioneering the Integrated Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Decision Making Framework for connecting climate science and local knowledge.

  • Produced two papers approved for publication in leading peer-reviewed scientific journals on climate change: “Merging Science- and Community-Led Adaptation Planning Processes in the Lower Mekong Basin,” and “Adaptation Planning in the Lower Mekong Basin: Merging Scientific Data with Local Perspective to Improve Community Resilience to Climate Change.”

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