Since joining the Urban Climate Resilience in Southeast Asia (UCRSEA) team, one of my favorite parts of the job has been the opportunity to travel within the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) and meet with urban climate resilience practitioners from many countries who are also interested in understanding urbanization and climate change. In October 2016, I got to join a group of over 15 UCRSEA partnership members in the inaugural Collaborative City Exchange trips to Dawei, Myanmar.
Over the last 25 years, Thailand has industrialised and successfully achieved the status of Newly Industrialised Country. While urbanisation is dominated by Bangkok, which accounts for nearly 80% of the country’s total urban area, urban centres in secondary cities are growing at a much faster rate. Issues of drastic land use change, inadequate urban systems and critical infrastructure, pollution and contamination, and inequality and poverty are manifested much of Thailand. The interaction of urbanisation and climate change create new forms and magnitudes of risks and compound vulnerabilities. Urban governments and communities must deal with increasingly complex challenges in response to shocks and crises.
In July 2016, I had the opportunity to accompany Daniel Hayward, a researcher based out of the Regional Center for Social Science and Sustainable Development at Chiang Mai University, on a trip to the capital of Lao PDR, Vientiane. Our goal for the trip was to meet with several potential research partners in the hopes of collaborating on an Urban Climate Resilience in Southeast Asia (URCSEA) research project on urban land governance in Vientiane.
It is now coming to the end of the rainy season—the point in the year at which the reservoirs across Thailand should be approaching maximum storage levels in order to provide the water resources that are needed for the full range of water uses through the dry season. But as we write this blog, it is difficult to see how the next few months will unfold, and how water needs will be met.