An Uncertain Future: Working Towards a Thriving Tonle Sap

When: Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020 at 9:00 PM - 10:30 PM EST

Watch Online - ENGLISH: English Watch Page

Watch Online - KHMER: Khmer Watch Page


The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, Bureau of Global Public Affairs, U.S. Embassy Phnom Penh, U.S. Embassy Bangkok, and the Sustainable Infrastructure Partnership are pleased to announce the second Mekong Virtual Symposium. As part of the U.S. Vision for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific, the U.S. government is committed to providing a platform that encourages information sharing, dialogue, collaboration, and stakeholder engagement for cooperative, responsible management of the Mekong River. The U.S. engagement in the Mekong region has long supported transparent, open cooperation for sustainable management of the river. The U.S. recently affirmed and elevated this commitment with the launch of the Mekong – U.S. Partnership. This engagement builds trust among partners and stakeholders and strengthens cooperation not only on water issues but also for natural resources management more broadly. This program will engage key stakeholders on the range of issues facing the Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia: fishing and fish migration, plastics, floods and droughts, sediment, and dam impacts. The Mekong River is home to one of the most biodiverse river ecosystems in the world with over 1,100 species of fish. The Tonle Sap Lake – the world’s most productive inland fishery – is a unique and critical part of this complex system. During the annual monsoon season, the lake swells in size and experiences a flow reversal, where water begins flowing from the Mekong into the lake. This phenomenon is fundamental to maintaining fish passage and sediment flows, and ultimately, the thriving ecosystems and livelihoods reliant on the Tonle Sap. As drought and dams have led the Mekong’s flow reversal to happen later and later each year, the Tonle Sap now faces an uncertain future. This program on key issues in the Tonle Sap Lake builds upon existing efforts in the Mekong region to strengthen collaboration and dialogue on water issues and solutions, and supports the Mekong Water Data Initiative (MWDI). The MWDI aims to strengthen the capacity of Lower Mekong countries to collect, analyze, and manage water and water-related data in order to reduce water-related risks and promote sustainable economic development across the water, food, energy, and environment nexus. During this event, U.S. and Mekong experts will identify strategies and methods to foster longer-term information sharing and collaboration. This program benefits regional mid-level water, rural and urban development, energy, environment, and health ministry officials, water resource managers and utility operators, academics, and civil society in the Lower Mekong region by not only providing expert consultation, but also facilitating peer-to-peer discussion. Join us before the program for a networking virtual happy hour; immediately following the program, participants will have the opportunity to join expert-led discussion breakout groups on specific topics and regions of interest.


Moderator: Ms. Chea Seila

Ms. Chea Seila has been working as a volunteer, research assistant, researcher, facilitator, coordinator and project manager with different projects focusing on protection and management of natural resources and communities’ livelihoods depending on the Mekong River and their systems in Cambodia. She spent most of her time working in communities along the Rivers in Stung Treng Province, and the communities around Tonle Sap River and Lake. As a research officer, livelihood, and social safeguard specialist, she has 10 years’ experience in community led action research or participatory action research which documented the local fishers’ knowledge and wisdom on fish, herbs for food and medicine, livelihoods and freshwater wetlands.

Dr. So Nam

Dr. So Nam has more than 25 years’ experience as a fish ecologist and in fisheries and fisheries science. Currently, Dr. Nam is the Chief Environment Management Officer with the Mekong River Commission (MRC) Secretariat. Since 2012, Dr. Nam has also been the MRC Fisheries Program Coordinator. Previously, Dr. Nam served as the Director of the Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute (IFReDI) and as Adjunct Professor of Royal University of Agriculture (RUA) where he led research and programs on fisheries, fish ecology, environmental monitoring, fauna and flora studies, dam impact assessments on fish and nutrition and lectured on aquaculture, fisheries, socioeconomics, livelihoods, and the interactions between them.

Dr. Zeb Hogan

Dr. Zeb Hogan is an assistant professor at the University of Nevada-Reno, the United Nations Convention on Migratory Species Councilor for Fish, and a National Geographic Society Explorer. Dr. Hogan received his Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of California, Davis in 2004. His research interests include aquatic ecosystems, freshwater fish ecology, fish migration, fisheries management, and endangered species issues. Currently, Dr. Hogan is the Director of the Wonders of the Mekong Project and host of the National Geographic show Monster Fish with Zeb Hogan.

Dr. Jenna Jambeck

Jenna Jambeck is a Full Professor in the College of Engineering at the University of Georgia. Dr. Jambeck conducts research and teaches environmental engineering with a focus on solid waste. Her work often interweaves social context and sciences with technical aspects. She has conducted numerous research projects including those related to contaminant fate and transport during waste beneficial use, chemical fate and biological processes within disposal systems, sustainable and innovative waste management practices, marine debris and plastic pollution. As we continue to evolve from waste management to materials management, a new paradigm is being created and the Jambeck Research Group strives to be at the forefront of this transformation.

Promotional Materials:

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Mekong Tonle Sap Virtual Program Social Media Toolkit (pdf)

Questions about this event? Reach out to Loren Hurst at [email protected]