DIIS Reports, Danish Institute for International Studies 2013:19
Climate change is expected to intensify water security concerns in international river basins. UNFCCC and DAC-donors have been important generators of political attention to the climate agenda among governments in the Mekong Basin in relation to regional cooperation, national policy-making and capacity building. However, the formal commitment to climate action is not necessarily reflected in the everyday business of development. In this paper we use a political economy approach to understand when and how climate change becomes a political priority for the governments of Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, and for transboundary cooperation. Uneven distribution of climate hazards and vulnerabilities create different national risk perceptions and commitment to climate action. Donor funding and national development strategies are also strong drivers of climate action and inaction. Climate change is sometimes used as a scapegoat for domestic policy failures and as a tool to acquire donor funding. We recommend prioritizing climate action in the context of immediate development challenges and 'no regrets' interventions that are likely to enhance adaptive capacity and governments' commitment.