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Open AccessArticle

Stagnant Rivers: Transboundary Water Security in South and Southeast Asia

Department of Sociology, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong, China
Water 2018, 10(12), 1819;
Received: 5 November 2018 / Revised: 6 December 2018 / Accepted: 7 December 2018 / Published: 10 December 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Water Resources Management and Governance)
PDF [276 KB, uploaded 10 December 2018]


Transboundary rivers are increasingly difficult to govern and often involve issues of national security, territoriality, and competition. In developing countries, the management and governance of these rivers is dominated by a particular decision making group, often comprised of politicians, bureaucrats, and engineers. These groups perpetrate a technocratic paradigm towards the management of transboundary water, with limited genuine international cooperation. The transboundary water situation in South and Southeast Asia is becoming increasingly fraught as the geopolitical context is changing due to China’s increased involvement in regional issues and climate change. With over 780 million people dependent on these rivers, their governance is vital to regional and international stability. Yet, the technocratic management of transboundary rivers persists and is likely to become increasingly unsustainable and inequitable. A discourse-based approach is applied to consider transboundary water governance in the shifting South and Southeast Asian context. The result is an alternative perspective of why governance approaches on transboundary rivers have resisted meaningful reform. View Full-Text
Keywords: transboundary water; water governance; discourse; hydrocracy transboundary water; water governance; discourse; hydrocracy
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Williams, J.M. Stagnant Rivers: Transboundary Water Security in South and Southeast Asia. Water 2018, 10, 1819.

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