ICIWaRM Leads Collaborative Model Verification and Development Workshop for the Mekong River Commission

Workshop participants. Credit: CEO Pham Tuan Phan.

On 13-14 November 2017 in Vientiane, Lao PDR, ICIWaRM held a Collaborative Model Verification and Development Workshop for staff from the Mekong River Commission Secretariat (MRCS) and technical staff from the four National Mekong Committees (NMCs). The workshop was led by Drs. Seth Cohen and Dr. Jenny Olszewski.

The purpose of the workshop was to learn how to use, and discuss verification and further development of, a draft, collaborative decision-support model developed by Institute for Water Resources and ICIWaRM staff. The data input into the model were derived from social, economic, and environmental datasets gathered by the MRCS for use in the MRC’s Study on the Sustainable Development and Management of the Mekong River (or “the Council Study”), which is scheduled to be finalized by the end of 2017.

Throughout the workshop, attendees participated in a number of exercises in order to help them understand both the context and utility of the model as a trade-off evaluation and negotiation tool. In addition, these exercises allowed attendees to practice using the tool and identify any issues in its structure and the underlying data inputs.

Draft alternatives discussed and ranked at the workshop. This was only an exercise and does not reflect official positions of the member countries. Credit: Jennifer Olszewski and Seth Cohen.

Member country representatives agreed that the model is a useful tool for better understanding Council Study scenario impacts and tradeoffs and will provide beneficial information for future member country negotiations. Regarding updates and improvements to the model, they suggested the addition of more trade-off visualizations, conducting data verification, minor aesthetic changes and some updates to the user guide.

A team of MRCS personnel will test and refine the model as well as perform data verification. As soon as possible, an internal workshop will be organized for all technical MRC staff to get more familiarized with the model, and the MRCS will distribute the final version to member country POCs from the workshop. These POCs will help ensure that the preferences of their respective leadership and stakeholders are accurately captured in the model. A follow-on workshop is proposed to be held in February or March 2018 with the MRC member country leadership and other key stakeholders to conduct trade-off evaluation and have facilitated discussion on basin plan strategies/scenarios using member country preference inputs to the model.