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Southeast Asia

Making Room for Civic Engagement in Natural Resource Management in the Mekong


The diminishing civic space in the Lower Mekong region ― encompassing Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam ― poses significant challenges to upholding transparency and accountability in the management of natural resources.

These challenges tend to take the form of government restrictions on public participation in development, crackdowns on environmental defenders, and the utilization of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP) against journalists and activists.

Digital threats and pervasive surveillance have also become commonplace in the Lower Mekong region, as governments expand their surveillance capabilities through legislative reforms, according to a report released by Frontline Defenders in 2022.

Meanwhile, natural resources such as water, minerals, forests and forest products, fish and fisheries, and agricultural products that Mekong communities are dependent on for their livelihoods are even more intensively exploited by powerful domestic and foreign actors. There need for effective and accountable natural resource governance and enforcement is greater and more urgent than ever before.

In light of this grim scenario, many may wonder how to make room for civic engagement in natural resource management?

This webinar discussed the consequences of the shrinking civic space on natural resource management in Lower Mekong countries while highlighting the inroads made by some organizations and the opportunities for public engagement.


  • Romchat Wachirarattanakornkul, climate change and environment focal point at the UN Human Rights Regional Office for Southeast Asia
  • Nop Vy, founder and executive director at CamboJA
  • Saw Paul Sein Twa, KESAN executive director


  • Paritta Wangkiat, Earth Journalism Network (EJN) Mekong program officer


The webinar was held in English. The recording is also available in Khmer and Burmese.

Please click on the speakers' names to download their presentations.