Contestation and Collaboration for Water Resources: Comparing the Emerging Regional Water Governance of the Aral Sea, Irtysh River, and Mekong River

Jeong Won Bourdais Park, Aigul Adibayeva, Danial Saari

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper enquires into how effectively “regional transboundary water governance” functions in resolving ecological problems associated with shared water resources. It compares three cases in Asia—the Irtysh River, Aral Sea, and Mekong River basin. Previous scholarly work on the hydro-politics of these three cases within social science disciplines, especially political science and international relations, focuses heavily on the dimension of “hegemonic power disparity between state actors” (from the weaker parties’ points of view) and/or the “economic or strategic benefits of development either defending or criticizing” (from the more powerful—often the polluters’—point of view). To contribute to existing research, this paper intends to enlarge the analytical scope and use the formation of regional environmental governance to grasp a broader picture of the complexity and interconnectivity of ecological issues, regional history, and politics. For analysis, we investigated the multilevel gaps in environmental communication at three different levels, exploring both the conflictual and cooperative relationships amongst all actors involved, namely (a) state-to-state relations: hydro-hegemonism due to the power disparity in historical and political contexts; (b) society level: authoritarian environmentalism between politics and citizens; and (c) global inter-connectivity or distance from (or the absence of) the application of international norms. We argue that all three cases, albeit at various degrees, equally exhibit the potential to fill the multidimensional gaps to ensure more functional, effective, and equitable regional hydro-governance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1121-1143
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Asian and African Studies
Volume56
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Aral Sea
  • Irtysh River
  • Mekong River basin
  • Regional water governance
  • transboundary water resources

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development

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