Michał Zaręba is Assistant Professor at Department of Asian Studies, Faculty of International and Political Studies, University of Lodz, Poland. He graduated from Interfaculty Interdisciplinary Doctoral Studies in the Humanities (UL) with Ph.D. thesis entitled Hydropolitics of the Mekong River Basin: Between conflict and cooperation (2015). He obtain masters degree in sociology at Faculty of Economics and Sociology, UL (2010). Since 2015 he has been cooperating with Center for Asian Affairs (university think – thank). His research focuses on hydropolitics in the Mainland Southeast Asia, with special regards to the Mekong River Basin. Moreover, he is interested in foreign policy and developmental challenges of Mainland Southeast Asian states, as well as conflicts and integration initiatives in Southeast Asia.

Summary of Project:

Hydropolitics of the Mekong River Basin and Its Influence on Regional Integration

The Mekong River Basin, which crosses China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, is the largest inland fishery in the world and the main source of fresh water used in agriculture. Over 80 million people living in the basin rely on the river for their livelihood. Since 1950’s lower riparian states have been collaborating over the water resources to improve their economies. After the era of instability in the region downstream countries decided to establish in 1995 new organization – Mekong River Commission. China, by constructing dams on the mainstream, undermining the role of MRC, which has to weak political mandate to solve conflicts occurring in the basin. Moreover in 2016 China launched new mechanism Lancang-Mekong Cooperation which has changed hydropolitical order in the region.

This project will examine the role of actors producing ecological knowledge what legitimizes or contests advisability of constructing hydropower plants. Moreover research will indicate players which have the greatest influence on hydropolitical order (defined as a network of relations between riparian states over the water resources) by sharing and disseminating knowledge on damming the Mekong. Research will also analyze the nature of hydropolitics in the basin, by showing incentives for cooperation and drivers of conflict, finally answering the question whether hydropolitics strengthens or weakens integration processes in the Mainland Southeast Asia.