Fostering Ecosystem-based Adaptation in River Basin Planning for Yom and Sakaekrang River Basins in Thailand

Published: 19 November 2021
Last edited: 19 November 2021
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Summary

Yom and Sakae Krang river basins are located in the lower North and the central part of Thailand and are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Water flows in the Yom and Sakae Krang River Basin strongly vary between floods in the rainy season and drought in the dry season which adversely affects the livelihood of local people along the up-, mid-, and downstream of Yom and Sakaekrang. To help enhance water security and address climate risks, the Thai water sector has been supported

  • to systematically integrate Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) into river basin planning processes,
  • to build technical capacities of relevant stakeholders,
  • to engage stakeholders from the national to local levels and across water-related sectors in multistakeholder collaboration, and
  • to develop technical guidance documents to support planning and implementation of EbA measures on the ground.    

Classifications

Region
Southeast Asia
Scale of implementation
Local
National
Subnational
Ecosystem
Freshwater ecosystems
Pool, lake, pond
River, stream
Wetland (swamp, marsh, peatland)
Theme
Adaptation
Disaster risk reduction
Flood management
Legal & policy frameworks
Local actors
Watershed management
Urban and Disaster Risk Management
Resilience and disaster risk management
Challenges
Drought
Erratic rainfall
Floods
Ecosystem loss
Lack of technical capacity
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Sustainable development goals
SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge
Sendai Framework
Target 3: Reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to GDP by 2030

Location

Thailand | Yom River Basin, Sakae Krang River Basin

Challenges

Yom and Sakae Krang river basins are highly vulnerable to droughts in the dry season and floods in the rainy season which adversely affects the livelihood of communities along the up-, mid-, and downstream of the rivers. While water security is high on the political agenda, relevant stakeholders still have limited understanding on the long-term impacts of climate change. EbA is also new to Thailand’s water sector that believes in the prevalence of grey, engineering solutions for water management. Furthermore, readily available evidence-based information on the costs and benefits of EbA to address climate-induced floods and droughts is still limited. These challenges call for a systematic integration of climate-sensitive water management into policy and planning processes, and support for multistakeholder cooperation and technical capacities at the national and river basin levels to apply EbA approaches, in order to increase adaptive capacity to floods and droughts and enhance long-term climate resilience.

Beneficiaries

  • Representatives of national and sub-national agencies and members of River Basin Committees in the two pilot river basins who are in charge of river basin management
     
  • River basin communities and downstream urban settlements as ultimate beneficiaries of EbA

How do the building blocks interact?

Mainstreaming climate change adaptation (CCA) and EbA on the national and river basin levels builds on comprehensive technical and institutional capacity building and the participatory elaboration of an interconnected series of knowledge management products. While the development of a national guideline for climate-sensitive river planning will set the regulatory framework for the River Basin Committees to engage in climate-sensitive basin planning with EbA as a key strategy for adaptation, the capacity development programme and knowledge products make all involved stakeholders fit to engage in identifying, selecting, planning and implementing EbA. At the same time, the capacity building and the elaboration of knowledge products are based on participatory approaches and enhancement of multistakeholder cooperation and exchange between policymakers, practitioners and local stakeholders and benefit from guidance by national and international experts providing technical know-how and best-practices. The multilevel and interconnected approach reflected in the building blocks pave the way for broader uptake of EbA as an adaptation and water management strategy in Thailand.

Impacts

  • Increased awareness on ecosystem-based solutions to help adapt to the impacts of climate change; systematic capacity building and integration of EbA in planning processes contributes to climate resilience entailing positive economic and social effects for communities and fostering awareness for the benefits of sustainable ecosystem management.  
     
  • River Basin Committees are equipped with technical know-how to develop climate-sensitive river basin master plans that include EbA as a key adaptation strategy to reduce flood and drought risks.
     
  • Multistakeholder cooperation that promotes a bottom-up approach in the river planning process and is based on local knowledge and balance of interests amongst stakeholders from different sectors and governing levels as well as from up-, mid-, and downstream in river basins is strengthened.
     
  • Trainings and participatory approaches in carrying out climate risk assessments and subsequent identification and priorisation of suitable EbA measures, contributed to a fostered sense of ownership of local stakeholders for climate-sensitive river basin planning.
     
  • The policy-science interface connecting research, knowledge and practical implementation of EbA in the water sector in Thailand has been enhanced.

Story

ONWR

Recognising that climate change impact is already influencing Thailand’s water sector, the country has seen a leap in the cooperation between the agencies in charge of water: the Office of National Water Resources (ONWR) and climate change: the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP). While cooperation and exchange were rather limited before, the two agencies committed to strengthen cooperation activities in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in 2018 and have since pursued the harmonisation of relevant policy frameworks.

 

“As Thailand’s water regulatory agency, ONWR needs to work closely with ONEP to mobilise the integration of climate change into the water sector. I hope that Thailand’s efforts will be recognised on the international stage when applying various [climate change adaptation] options and mechanisms in line with international standards” – Dr. Somkiat Prajumwong, Secretary General, ONWR.

 

In the 2018 MoU, the two agencies also agreed to issue a joint Policy Brief series to guide the water sector on priorities to integrate climate adaptation and EbA. This includes an alignment of relevant policies and plans at the national level, e.g., National Adaptation Plan and 20-Year Water Resources Management Master Plan, as well as a strong cooperation with the local-level River Basin Committees (RBCs) to ensure the integration of climate information and selection of respective adaptation actions for climate-sensitive river basin management.

 

A high-level Policy Dialogue between ONWR and ONEP was held on 2 December 2019 in Bangkok. The dialogue emphasized the need for cross-agency and multi-level collaboration, use of scientific climate and risk information, and data sharing among relevant agencies to make Thailand’s water resources management more climate-resilient in the face of the adverse impacts of climate change.  

 

It is expected that the intensified inter-agency cooperation will strongly catalyze the uptake of adaptation and EbA approaches, building on systematic capacity building and enhanced planning processes that include EbA as a key adaptation strategy to reduce flood and drought risks in Thailand.

Contributed by

Lisa Hunsinger Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

Other contributors

Office of National Water Resources (ONWR)
Office of National Water Resources (ONWR)