Chapter 14: Benefit sharing in environmental governance: beyond hydropower in the Mekong River Basin
Much research in political ecology has tended to focus on critique rather than solutions and local-scale rather than regional or global-scale analysis. This has meant that the research field has only partly addressed the sorts of issues that a truly global political ecology must do. To this end, this chapter examines hydropower development using the Mekong River Basin as a regional case study of inter-state dynamics. It also introduces a benefit-sharing analytical framework to gauge how far and in what ways multiple benefits inform such behavior and represent a positive socio-economic outcome. The chapter argues that the Mekong case does in fact illustrate a more complex scenario than is often recognized in the literature in that some benefits do accrue to all states, and are diffused to a greater or lesser extent to the wider population in riparian countries. However, it also has to be acknowledged that there are clear social and economic costs to such hydropower development, with unequal power relations shaping who benefits most, where and when (and who pays the costs). A political ecology of benefit sharing thus needs to address all these facets of the development process.
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