The Greater Mekong Region is currently experiencing social and environmental change quicker than almost anywhere else in the world. Spanning south from Yunnan in South China through Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, the region is an international hotspot for global diversity, poverty, and economic change, and poses a distinct collection of social and environmental challenges.
From an environmental perspective, the consequences of the last few decades, where the region was able to transform into the world’s rice-bowl, are starting to be felt. Accelerated land degradation, unsustainable water pollution and eutrophication are verging on being almost the norm throughout the region.
Group discussions at the Humid Tropics regional Asia meeting
With this, and other issues in mind, and following on from the African workshop organized by the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Nairobi, a regional workshop in Asia was held and attended by representatives from a number of CGIAR centres, including Bioversity International, International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), International Potato Center (CIP) and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) to discuss how these challenges could be address through the CGIAR Research Program on the Integrated Systems for the Humid Tropics.
Over the course of the two-day workshop, held on June 20-21, participants developed a structured work plan for the project, with priority given to establishing guidelines for the identification of project action sites
Fundamentally, the project aims to contribute to the sustainable and inclusive economic growth of the region, while also reducing the environmental and social impacts felt by the smallholders that dominate the region’s crop, livestock and agroforestry sectors.
Possible impact pathways for the region were discussed, with a focus on agricultural productivity, market and trade access, and a higher-degree of integrated environmental management proposed as possible areas of influence. Further to this, three potential action sites were identified to implement project activities;
- Green triangle site – including northern Laos, northwest Vietnam and southern Yunnan Province, China
- Golden triangle site – including northern Thailand and Laos, northeast Myanmar and southern Yunnan, China
- Development triangle site – including the border areas of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
Participants also reviewed and adapted research hypotheses, taking into account the regional context, whilst also looking to capture development issues that are unique to the region, and which drive its transformation.
The two-day workshop was organized and hosted by ICRAF and ILRI, Hanoi Office, with Dr. Joachim Voss (ex-Director-General of CIAT) and Paul Woolmer (IITA consultant) facilitating the workshop discussions.