River activism, policy entrepreneurship and transboundary water disputes in Asia

Organisation: NTS, RSIS

Authors: Pichamon Yeophantong
Research Themes:
Water security
Type: Working Papers
7 February 2017


This article examines the role of non-state actors – namely, ‘river activists’ – in the management of major transboundary rivers in Asia. Focusing on unresolved disputes over the utilization of the water resources of the Mekong, Nu-Salween and Brahmaputra Rivers, it argues that aside from riparian governments, these activists have contributed considerably to shaping the nature of socio-political contestation in these cases. Drawing upon a ‘policy entrepreneurship’ framework for analysis, civil society actors are revealed to play an important, if not leading, role in catalyzing and framing water disputes at the national and transnational levels, with cascading consequences for regional water governance.