The Greater Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy is the largest annual knowledge-sharing event in the Greater Mekong. It presents research-based evidence to non-governmental organizations, policy-makers, the private sector, and development agencies. It does this through carefully designed and facilitated dialogues.
The purpose of the forum is to:
- Create ‘safe’ spaces for stakeholders to come together to informally discuss difficult and controversial water-related discussions.
- Network and to promote cross-regional learning on water-food-energy nexus-related issues.
- Encourage and facilitate building of networks across sectors and river basins to support future collaborations.
- Interface research-based solutions with a non-technical public, policy-makers, and the private sector.
- Provide would-be users with an opportunity to deliberate and query potential solutions.
This is not a research conference. The entire event is oriented towards knowledge consumers. We seek sessions designed with this group in mind, recognizing that most, if not all, knowledge consumers have no technical background. We emphasise deliberation and listening, whereby participants can query, debate, and (constructively) criticize the ideas or innovations presented. As a consequence, the Forum is also oriented towards participation.
In 2017, the Forum is projected to have 300 participants. Half of these are expected to be knowledge producers, and the other half, knowledge users.
All forum sessions must fall into one or more forum themes. In 2017, the themes are:
Theme 1: Water governance – The natural, economic and social environments are changing rapidly across the Greater Mekong, challenging existing governance structures in the region, and leading to the emergence of new governance forms. Sessions in this theme will explore these new governance forms, and the degree to which they contribute towards water sustainability across the region.
Theme 2: Healthy rivers – Monitoring the state of the region’s rivers is a significant challenge, but nevertheless essential to their effective management. Across the region, there is little baseline information on the state and health of the region’s rivers. Sessions in this theme will explore options available for the cost-effective monitoring of the health of the region’s rivers.
Theme 3: River food systems – The impact of water development on regional food supplies and some of the world’s most productive fisheries remains a pronounced source of concern across the region. Sessions under this theme will explore how reductions in food production as a result of water infrastructure can be addressed, and will consider how water infrastructure can be designed and operated to maximize food production potentials.
Theme 4: Healthy landscapes and ecosystems – Across the region, catchments are being altered by (land, mining and other) concessions, leading to changes in water quality and quantity. Sessions under this theme will consider these land use changes and their impacts, how they can be monitored, and the ways in which catchment management can be improved to address these changes.
Theme 5: Natural resources and peace – Globally, natural resources are frequently at the center of human conflicts. Sessions focusing on this theme will explore the ways in which this happens within the Greater Mekong Region. This theme will examine how natural resource mismanagement is contributing to conflict and propose ways in which these systems can be changed towards more equitable models that create and promote peace.
Who attends the Forum?
The forum is designed for knowledge users: government and development agencies, the private sector and research-for-development practitioners. We emphasise deliberation and listening, query and debate.
At the 2016 Forum, we welcomed 390 participants, representing 210 institutions. Of the latter, 11% were Cambodian, 5% Chinese, 10% Laotian, 13% Myanmar, 18% Thai, 19% Vietnamese and 24% international.The forum attracts participants from the research community, civil society, government and the private sector.
The Forum welcomes:
• Active listening
• Constructive criticism
• Diplomacy • Diversity
• Intelligence • Mutual Respect
WLE will host 25% of the sessions through our ongoing projects while the remaining 75% are available to creative and collaborative session proposals from other organizations.
Before applying, applicants should first read the 2017 Forum Session Guidelines. A key element of these guidelines are the ‘session rules’, which exist to maximise the opportunities for deliberation.
The rules are:
- If the session is to feature presentations then: (a) there may be no more than three per session; (b) there may be no more than five slides per presentation; and (c) the slides must use illustrations (photos, diagrams, etc.) and text only to the extent of key messages.
- All sessions must be co-developed between the session team and a forum facilitator.
- All sessions must be (co-)facilitated by a forum-provided facilitator unless, in the opinion of the Lead Forum Facilitator, this is unnecessary.
Agencies external to the programme are welcome to apply for space in the Sharefair. The basic Sharefair package – provided free of charge – comprises a poster board and a display table. If you wish to display other permutations (whole cubicles, several tables/poster boards, etc) please let us know. The latter may involve costs.
If you wish to participate in the Sharefair, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below, we provide alternative accommodation options. If you wish to book a room at any of these hotels, please go to the hotel website or refer to an online hotel booking website.
|Hotel*||Drive time to Inya Lake (min)||Walk time to Inya Lake (min)||Approx distance to Lake Inya (m)||Approx room rate/night (USD)**|
|Kan Yeik Tar||3||10||850||70|
|Thanlwin Guest House||8||32||3,000||35|
*Under no circumstances whatsoever does WLE Greater Mekong, IWMI, MEI or any other partner to the forum endorse or recommend the use of the hotels identified here. No comment can be made as to the quality of any of these hotels, and delegates are advised to seek on-line reviews and other information regarding these hotels.
**The rates provided are averages from various online hotel booking sites derived in July, 2017, and are highly likely to change.
Holders of normal passports issued by the following countries do not require a visa to enter Myanmar for tourism and business visits for up to 14 days unless otherwise noted:
- Lao PDR
- Singapore (30 days)
- Thailand (for air arrivals only)
All other citizens require a visa. The simplest way of obtaining this is online, via the Myanmar Government’s eVisa process. Visas cost US$50. Delegate passports must be valid for at least six months after the date of arrival in Myanmar. Before applying for a visa online, make sure that you have an electronic version of your passport photo ready. Typically, processing time will take no more than three days. When you receive your eVisa, you will need to print it and have it with you when you encounter immigration officials at Yangon International Airport.
Read more about visa requirements or contact your nearest Myanmar diplomatic mission.
Getting to Myanmar
We cannot comment on the safety or quality of individual airlines. The International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe. See the list of airlines that fly to Yangon International Airport on their website.
October weather in Myanmar has average highs around 32 oC, and lows of 25 oC. The average percentage of time that the sky is overcast or mostly cloudy is 64%. In Yangon, the chance of a wet day declines over the course of October, from 34% at the start to 14% at the end.
You should expect to rely on cash for most of your stay. As of July 20, 2017, there were 1,380 Kyat to the US Dollar.
Visitors bringing in excess of US$10,000 (or equivalent) in foreign currency should declare this to Customs on arrival or risk facing imprisonment.
ATMs are widely available. There are three at the Forum venue, the Inya Lake Hotel.
An increasing number of hotels, restaurants and shops now accept credit and debit cards. Most vendors will charge a processing fee if you pay by credit card.
Once in country, it is easy to exchange US dollars into Kyat. Exchange rates are generally fair. Due to concerns over counterfeit money, dollars with the letters AB and CB at the start of the serial number (top left-hand corner of the note) are not always accepted. Notes with pen marks, folds or tears are also not accepted.
Myanmar has multiple mosquito-borne diseases, including dengue. Forum delegates are strongly encouraged to take adequate precautions to avoid being bitten. There is also rabies in Myanmar, and plenty of stray dogs.
Tap water is not safe to drink; we suggest you drink bottled or filtered water.
Outside established tourist and top-end restaurants, food preparation is not always be as hygienic as you may be used to.
Delegates are entirely responsible for their health insurance. There is an SOS International Clinic at the Forum venue, the Inya Lake Hotel.
Learn more about health matters in Myanmar. The Forum organisers in no way endorse the health advice provided on this or any other site.
Getting around Yangon
Yangon is a large and sprawling city, and you will need transport to get from the Forum venue to the center or town, or tourist attractions. Uber has recently started operating in Yangon, for which you must download a mobile App.
Otherwise, taxis are widely available and clearly marked. You will need to ask the price from the taxi driver to your destination, and then haggle if you feel that it is unreasonable.
It should be noted that Yangon has notoriously bad traffic, and that driving around during rush hour cannot be recommended.
Wireless internet is available at the Forum venue, the Inya Lake Hotel. It should be noted, however, that if there are many delegates, wireless speeds may decline to no movement at all. Internet connectivity in Yangon is well known for being poor if not non-existent. As a result, if maintaining a strong and regular relationship with the internet is necessary for delegates, the Forum organisers recommends the purchase of a data compatible SIM card at the airport upon arrival. Multiple companies offer SIM cards at the airport, including Telenor and Ooredoo.
Yangon regularly suffers from electricity blackouts, although most hotels have a backup generator.
The voltage in Myanmar is 230 volts and the frequency is 50 Hz. The plugs that will work at the hotels are C,D,F and G. Many hotels have multi-purpose outlets that accommodate most plugs.
Safety in Yangon
Yangon is generally considered a safe city but delegates may wish to explore other internet travel sites for additional information.