Addressing ecosystem challenges through support to the Mekong River Commission’s Climate Change and Adaptation Initiative (CCAI)

At a glance

2012-01-01 to 2017-12-30
Completed programmes
Mekong River Commission
Total budget
11,55 M€

The scope of the Climate Change Adapation Initiative (CCAI) is climate change impact assessment and adaptation planning and implementation of adaptation interventions integrated with development planning within the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB). It is cross-cutting touching on almost every aspects of water management (flood and drought, irrigation, hydropower development, etc) and includes institutional, planning, environmental and socio-economic issues, as well as coping strategies including building resilience and enhancing adaptive capacity. The initiative would help address transboundary Climate Change impact and also look at climate change adaptation from a regional angle.

GCCA's action programme
Geographical scope
Initial GCCA/GCCA+ contribution
4,950,000.00 €

Overall objective

An economically prosperous, socially just and environmentally sound Mekong River Basin, responsive and adapting to the challenges induced by climate change, reflecting the overall vision of the MRC. Inherent to this goal is a commitment to poverty reduction, gender responsiveness and ecological sustainability in adapting to climate change.

Objectifs spécifiques

The objective is for climate change adaptation planning and implementation to be guided by strategies and plans at various levels and in priority locations throughout the LMB. 


CCAI views climate change adaptation through a regional lens, aiming to build adaptive capacity in the four Member Countries based on needs and encompassing the sectors covered by MRC’s mandate, including flood and drought, agriculture, fisheries, aquaculture, hydropower, and river transport. 

In the first five-year phase 2011-2015, CCAI aims to achieve that 

  • Member countries and MRC pilot and demonstrate adapta­tion planning and implementa­tion throughout the region and draw lessons learned from practices to im­prove adaptation performance;
  • Member countries improve capacity to adapt to climate change at different levels, including capacity to use tools and methods for different adaptation planning stages;
  •  Member countries and MRC have in place strategies and plans for adaptation at various levels, which are regu­larly monitored and updated as well as integrated into development plans;
  • Member countries and MRC implement regional cooperation, exchange and learning through partnerships in a fully gender responsive and sustainable way.


The main activities of the CCAI 2011-2015 include:

  • Climate change adaptation demonstration and pilot activities in prioritised locations,
  • Regional climate change and adaptation database, monitoring and reporting system,
  • Regional integrated climate and hydrological analysis,
  • Regional assessments of climate change impacts on hydrology, ecosystems and biodiversity, floods, droughts, food security and  hydropower,
  • Regional Climate Change Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan, 
  • Appropriate regional climate change scenarios, 
  • Guides on integrating priority regional and transboundary issues into national adaptation plans, guides for local adaptation plans, guides for integrating climate change and adaptation into SEA and EIA, guides for sector specific adaptation plans and action plans for transboundary natural systems,
  • A network of local projects adapting to climate change impacts,
  • Reports on status of climate change and adaptation in the LMB, every three years,
  • Mekong Climate Change Forums, every three years, sharing knowledge and provide networking platform between people and organisations working on climate change adaptation in the LMB,
  • Training and learning events for different target groups, including government agencies and communities,
  • Training for trainers on approaches and tools for climate change adaptation planning.

Achievements to date

Institutional and working arrangements have been put in place. 

  • The CCAI Programme Document 2011-2015 was approved in August 2011 at the 34th meeting of the MRC Joint Committee.
  • The total  programme budget for the period 2011-15 is  US $15.90 million and  was fully funded in December 2012 with supports from seven development partners: Australia, Denmark, Luxembourg, Sweden, Finland, Germany and the European Union. By June 2014, the remaining fund from Sweden was transferred to the FMMP (Flood Mitigation and Management Programme), thus CCAI has a funding gap of US$ 176,887.
  • The CCAI Steering Committee was established and its first meetings were convened in July 2010, November 2011 and July 2012. No meeting was held during  2013, but one meeting was held in February 2014 .
  • In 2015 the CCAI has eight staff (7 professional): one Programme Coordinator, 3  Senior Programme Officers, 2 Programme Officer, 1  Technical Officer and 1 Administrative Assistant)The CCAI Regional Technical Working Group (RTWG) consists of representatives of the national climate change focal points, the CCAI National Coordinators and relevant experts from the Member Countries. In January-June 2016 in line with a transition period of the MRC reform, the CCAI staffing has been reduced to only 5 staffs a Climate change (cum Environment) Team Leader, a Socio-economic Specialist, a Technical Officer, an Admin Assistant and a Secretary. 
  • The CCAI Programme Coordinator chairs the Regional Technical Working Group. The main role of the RTWG is to facilitate the implementation of the CCAI and provide technical linkages with the national activities and expertise among the Member Countries. It focuses on the technical design of CCAI activities to achieve the technical outputs, and proposes adjustments to improve implementation performance. It meets back to back with other CCAI technical meetings and on a need basis.
  • In 2012 the CCAI national coordination units were established in the NMCs with the recruitment  of a CCAI National  Expert and a CCAI Administrative  Assistant  to support  the CCAI National Coordinator. By the end of 2013 these positions were filled inCambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam but not yet in Thailand.
  • Monitoring and evaluation indicators were updated to ensure their relevance. An Excel-based internal management and monitoring system was developed and applied. This helps store and share data and information, identify progress toward results and assess the performance of the programme.
  • Programme reports (monthly newsletters, monthly individual reports, Quarterly Activity Reports, Six Monthly Output Report Jan-June 2014 and Annual Report 2014 were regularly prepared.
  • Targeted reviews of the CCAI were started in October 2013 and completed in march 2013, including: A Mid-term Review of the MRC Strategic Plan 2011-2015; A Mid-term Review of the CCAI, as part of the Mid-term Reviews of 8 other MRC programmes; A Mid-term Review and a Value for Money Review of Danida on their support to the MRC including CCAI. The results and recommendations of these Mid-term Reviews are being used to improve implementation of CCAI in 2014 and 2015.


Demonstration and pilot projects on climate change adapta­tion have been established and lessons learned collected and exchanged.

  • 1st batch demonstration projects: 4 projects were implemented, one project in each member country.  All projects were completed in April 2013. An evaluation was then conducted in July - August 2013 for the projects in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Viet Nam and in November 2013 in Thailand. Lessons learnt were collected for further dissemination to the 2nd batch of CCAI demonstration projects. The evaluation report and the project reports were published for further dissemination of results and lessons learned of demonstration projects to CCAI stakeholders.
  •  2nd batch demonstration projects: 5 projects were implemented, one project each in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam and 2 projects in Thailand. All projects are being implemented and expected to complete in May-June 2016


Overall the CCAI demonstration projects have already had many  positive outcomes. The local demonstration projects were considered as a very good exercise for climate change adaptation planning and implementation. Results from the demonstration projects were well received by local governments in the respective provinces: Prey Veng in Cambodia, Savannakhet in Laos, Roi Et and Kalasin in Thailand and Kien Giang in Viet Nam. Further uses of those results by local government and other local and international organisations happened such as the impact assessment results in Kien Giang were used for provincial adaptation planning of the province.  Meanwhile capacity building and introduction of impact assessment and adaptation options were considered useful results. Stakeholder involvement in the CCAI demonstration projects was especially successful. Both batches of demonstration projects have been able to engage in the project teams not only governmental staffs but also experts from NGOs (such as Red Cross in the project in Cambodia, WWF in Thailand) and research institutions (such as NAFRI in Laos and Khon Kaen University, Rajamangala University of Technology, and E-San University in Thailand).


  • The results of evaluation were already shared in various knowledge and experience exchanges across the CCAI project teams and / or with other non-MRC projects. These included a 1st and 2nd Regional Exchange and Learning Workshop, organised in December 2012 and in February 2014, respectively . The workshops provided the national project teams of both the 1st and 2nd batch CCAI local demonstration projects a platform to look at factors ensuring a good adaptation project, factors to be considered for replication, mainstreaming and upscaling of adaptation projects in the LMB. These findings were further discussed with CCAI stakeholders in the upcoming 2nd Mekong Climate Change Forum on 6-8 October in Siem Reap, Cambodia and various national exchanges. A publication on “Experiences in designing, implementing, replication, upscaling and mainstreaming of local climate change adaptation projects : a review and proposed checklists for the LMB” is being prepared for further dissemination. 


The analysis on climate change, trends and extremes is on track. By March 2016, the following outputs were achieved:

  • MRC working paper No52: Review of availability of observed meteorological data in the LMB
  • A working paper on review and evaluation of reanalysis datasets for climatic trend analysis in the LMB
  • Climate change and adaptation atlas-  Volume 1: Climate Change is being published


The CCAI Basin-wide assessment of climate change impacts on water and water related resources and sectors was on track and the results are being used for the drafting of the Mekong Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan (MASAP) by June 2016. The CCAI basin-wide assessments include 7 components of hydrology, flood, drought, ecosystem and biodiversity, food security, hydropower and socio-economics. 


By March 2016, the following outputs were achieved:



  • A scoping report of the basin-wide assessment of climate change impacts on hydrology of the LMB
  • Updated models (SWAT, IQQM and ISIS) in the MRC Decision Support Framework
  • Simulated results on  water levels, flows and salinity intrusion under agreed climate change scenarios, with and without agreed development scenarios
  • 1st Draft technical report on basin-wide assessment of climate change impacts on hydrology Vol 1: water level, flow and salinity intrusion. 
  • Sediment and nutrient models are being calibrated. 



  • A scoping report of the ecosystem assessment
  • Environmental stratification model, Species Vulnerability Assessment Framework, and InVEST models are built for the assessment
  • Database of biological traits of 574 species plus 109 range maps from 6 taxa were developed
  • Initial results of ecosystem assessment: shift of bioclimatic zones and vulnerability of species
  • Four draft reports of the status of ecoregions in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam.
  • Collection of CCA options/measure (e.g. ecosystem-based adaptation) in the MCs and outside the Mekong region



  • ToRs for basin-wide assessment of climate change impacts of flood and drought behaviours in the LMB are prepared
  • Analyses are on-going


  • A scoping report of the food security assessment (crop model is selected, data collection and case studies are on going).
  • A rapid assessment on climate change impacts on food security is conducted
  • Survey on fishery yield per habitat is being conducted (FP)
  • Assessment on flood security is ongoing 
  • Concept note on assessment of climate change impacts on fisheries and aquaculture is formulated
  • Assessment on fisheries and aquaculture is ongoing 


  • A scoping report of the hydropower production is prepared
  • Assessment is ongoing


  • A scoping report of basin-wide assessment of climate change impacts on socio-economics and vulnerability assessment is prepared
  • Assessment is ongoing


Capacity needs were assessed to develop effective Capacity Building Plan; Prioritized capacity building activities were conducted; 

  • The Capacity Need Assessment (CNA) was completed in 2013 with 4 national reports and a regional synthesis. The CNA identified the institutional and technical capacity needs in policy-making and planning for climate change adaptation in the Member Countries. The results of this CNA serve as basic information for drafting the CCAI Stakeholder Engagement Framework (SEF) and CCAI Capacity Building Plan (CBP).
  • The Stakeholder Engagement Framework (SEF) was drafted in June 2013, agreed by all MCs and is being implemented. Its overall objective is to establish strategies and methods to identify and engage stakeholders in CCAI activities at all levels. It describes the target stakeholders, engagement mechanisms, roles and responsibilities of both regional and national levels in stakeholder engagement, and requirements for M&E of stakeholder engagement. In another word the CCAI SEF is being used as a guideline for implementation of stakeholder engagement in CCAI activities at both regional and national levels.
  • The Capacity Building Plan (CBP) was drafted in October 2013 and approved by Steering Committee in February 2014. It includes 5 components: a Regional component addressing common capacity gaps as identified by the CNA and capacity needs for conducting regional activities of the CCAI (such as the basin-wide Food Security Study) and four National components  addressing specific needs of each Member Country also as identified by the CNA. The CCAI national coordination units in the Member Countries have been assisted to prepare for proposals of national capacity building activities but to date no national CB activity is implemented yet. 


By March 2016 CCAI completed 6  out or 8 activities at regional level and 17 activities at national level. The regional activities are the CBP 1 on Basic-understanding of Climate Change, CBP 3.1 on Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Planning, CBP 4.1 the first Rhine-Mekong Symposium, the CBP 5 Gender mainstreaming in Climate Change Adaptation and CBP 6 on Training of Trainers (ToT) for CCAI methods and tools in adaptation planning. The Mekong participants of CBP4.1 included representatives of national climate change focal points, NMCs and related line agencies. The CBP5 included one training workshop for the regional team and 4 training workshops for CCAI national teams consisting of CCAI national coordination units, demonstration project teams and related line agencies. 


  • The Climate change glossary in English and riparian languages was  prepared and posted on the MRC website for public accessibility and use.


Moreover, before having the CBP, several activities were conducted to build the capacity of Member Countries in a number of topics:

  • Innovative climate change adaptation techniques in the context of sustainable agriculture and natural resource management in Laos and Viet Nam via participation of CCAI and the Member Countries in the â€œRegional Climate Change Symposium SEA-REACTi Technical Innovation Workshop” in June 2013, in Can Tho Viet Nam;
  • Frameworks to scale-up, coordinate and integrate climate action and strengthening climate finance via participation of CCAI and Member Countries in the â€œGlobal Climate Change Alliance (GCCA) Policy Event” in September 2013 in Brussels, Belgium;
  • Need and use of Hydro-meteorological data for climate simulation and seasonal forecasting in the Lower Mekong basin via an IKMP-CCAI training workshop in November 2013 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 
  • Gender responsive training : This is also part of CCAI Gender Responsive Plan and was expected to be organised at both regional and national levels in 2013. However to date the gender mainstreaming to climate change knowledge and skills could be provided to the regional team only (in December 2013). Gender mainstreaming training at national levels was carried over to the next year.
  • Adaptation monitoring and reporting capacity : In 2013 CCAI organised three national consultations on the CCAI’s basin-wide monitoring and reporting system. The examples of existing global and regional monitoring systems and discussions during these consultation meetings have not only helped explain the proposed indicators-based monitoring system of CCAI but also raised awareness of Line Agencies in the Member Countries about the importance and methodology of monitoring climate change and its impacts. The theme of monitoring and reporting on climate change and adaptation has been integrated into the CCAI CBP.


Methods and tools for adaptation planning are reviewed and information is further disseminated. By March 2016 the following reports are prepared:

  • Manual of CCAI methods and tool set for adaptation planning 
  • Review report on methods and tools for assessing climate change impacts on ecosystem and biodiversity
  • Review report on methods and tools for identification and prioritisation of adaptation options
  • Review report on methods and tools for assessing socio-economic impacts of climate change 

Climate information, future climate scenarios, basin-wide monitoring and reporting system on climate change and adaptation, and report on status of climate change and adaptation in the LMB are being prepared. 

To provide information for basin-wide impacts assessment and adaptation planning by March 2016 the following outputs were achieved:

  • A technical report on review of approaches for developing climate change scenarios and addressing scenario uncertainties in adaptation planning for the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB). 
  • A technical report on defining basin-wide climate change scenarios for the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB).  
  • Tool and database of future climate projections for the LMB (SimCLIM system)
  • Agreement with the Member Countries on climate change and development scenarios to be used for basin-wide assessment. 


A Mekong Climate Change Adaptation Strategy is being formulated aiming for approval in 2017.

  • The Roadmap for development of the Mekong Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan (MASAP) was approved by Member Countries in March 2014. The roadmap is proposed based on the review of BDP planning cycle as well as experiences in addressing transboundary impacts and adaptation to climate change of other international river basins. The roadmap lists important milestones including: 1st draft of the Strategy by the end of 2014, agreement on the Strategy by the end of 2015, etc. The years 2014 and 2015 will be spent for basin-wide assessments of climate change and its impacts in the LMB. The information collected and the understandings gained from these and previous assessments and studies will form a knowledge base for drafting the Strategy. As of the end of 2014 due to the delay of the basin-wide assessment, the formulation of the MASAP has also been delayed. 
  • An analysis on strategies and policies on climate change adaptation in the LMB is conducted. To date a regional report and 4 national reports on policy analysis have been completed. 
  • International experiences on transboundary adaptation strategies were briefly presented in the Roadmap document. A more comprehensive review was conducted and completed in 2014 in the report entitled “Review Report on International experiences on the formulation and implementation of transboundary climate change adaptation strategy”.  The information gained by this review will inform the MRC member countries on the scope, formulation and implementation aspects of transboundary climate change adaptation strategy and action plans.
  • For stakeholder engagement and capacity building during the MASAP formulation process, the 1st Rhine-Mekong Symposium was organised on 8 – 9 May 2014 in Koblenz, Germany and the 2nd Mekong Climate Change Forum in October 2014 in Siem Reap, Cambodia . 

The 1st Rhine-Mekong Symposium gathered around 70 people, including representatives from the International Commission for the Hydrology of the Rhine Basin, the International Commission for protection of the Rhine, the Mekong River Commission, government representatives, experts and scientists from the Rhine and Mekong basins. Its objective was to share knowledge and discuss challenges on their different and common issues and to explore areas for potential cooperation. The two-day event was set under the theme “Climate Change and its Influence on Water and Related Sectors” and consisted of interactive presentations, panels and parallel technical group discussion sessions. Specific attention was paid to the discussions on key questions and approaches pertaining to the development of a climate change adaptation strategy and the assessment of climate change, its influence on the hydrological regimes and impacts on relevant sectors in the basin under a transboundary context. 

The 2nd Mekong Climate Change Forum gathered 180 participants from MRC member countries, NGOs and research institutions in the LMB as well as invited speakers from IPCC and the Danube River Basin.

1st Report on the Status of Climate Change and Adaptation in the Mekong River Basin (the Status Report ) is being prepared. 

  • A Literature Review on Climate Change and Adaptation in the Water Environment of the Lower Mekong Basin has been conducted since April 2013 to provide inputs for the Status Report. It defines existing published knowledge on climate change, impacts and adaptation in the LMB which will be incorporated into the 1st Status Report. By March 2016 the regional draft report and national reports on Literature Review was completed. 
  • The 1st Status Report was started in April 2014 after the concept note was agreed with member Countries in March 2014. 


A basin-wide monitoring and reporting system on climate change and adaptation is being established.

  • Indicators for monitoring and reporting on the status of climate change and adaptation in the LMB and elsewhere were reviewed by November 2013. A shortlist of indicators most relevant and applicable for the LMB was consulted and agreed with Member Countries in March 2014.
  • Baseline values of the proposed indicators are being assessed and 1st report on basin-wide monitoring and reporting system is being prepared. Indicator cards are being developed; baseline values of indicators are being assessed.


By March 2016 the following outputs have been achieved:

  • A concept note on development of CCAI database and basin-wide monitoring and reporting system on climate change and adaptation for the Lower Mekong Basin
  • A working paper on review  of climate change monitoring systems and climate change, impact and adaptation  indicators
  • A working paper of an initial set of indicators for a basin-wide monitoring and reporting system on climate change and adaptation in the LMB.
  • A prototype of the CCAI data and information webpage. 
  • Database of historical meteorological data (pending data from Thailand). 
  • Database of future projected climate data.
  • Initial database of adaptation projects and programmes.
  • Initial database of Climate Change and Adaptation Policy and Strategy.

Regional cooperation, exchange and learning through partnerships are continuously explored. 

  • Efforts to build partnership and cooperation with relevant international and regional organisations are actually made for all activities of the year.

With regional organisations, several meetings and discussions were held to explore cooperation with potential partners, but no concrete cooperation was realised yet. Those meetings included discussions with FAO Regional Office for Asia and Pacific (FAO – RAP) to explore cooperation in the CCAI Food Security Study, with the USAID Project - Mekong Adaptation and Resilience to Climate Change (Mekong-ARCC) on baseline and ecosystem change assessment.

With international organisations discussions were heldwith WMO Geneva, Department of Climate and Water Department on baseline assessment (climate, storm, tidal, sea level) and future climate projections, etc. In 2014 cooperation with the Commission for Hydrology of the Rhine (CHR) and the International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine (ICPR) was successfully implemented to organise the 1st Rhine Mekong Symposium. CCAI has also participated in the INBO-UNECE network of transboundary river basin organisations working on climate change adaptation since 2012. Exchange of information occurs as part of regular workshops organised by UNECE. Experiences and lessons learned of the network are being composed for launching at the 7th World Water Forum in July 2015 in South Korea.


Communications : 

A communications plan was prepared in 2011 and implemented since then. It includes various communication events and products as publications, brochures, website, exhibitions, etc. CCAI communication products have been regularly shared with the EU. 

Way forward

-       Despite the programme’s efforts to prepare staffing and work plan for a full implementation since 2013, the actual roll-out of implementation in that year was disappointing and much lower than expected. The main factors leading to the delayed implementation include incomplete support and participation from all the Member Countries, thereby limiting the capacity of the Member Countries and related MRC programmes to speed up CCAI implementation. Implementation since 2014 is improved but still has many delays.

-       Commitment of the LMB governments to quality demonstration and pilot projects and to integrate adaptation approaches in development planning is mounting. 

-       Coordination at national level has been appropriate, which can ensure involvement of relevant institutions, namely national Climate Change Focal Agencies, Line Agencies, local governments, RBOs and also some NGOs. 

-       The risk that agreement is not reached on the Mekong Climate Change Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan within the first phase is still valid. This is because of the significant delay of CCAI implementation and a risk that emerging development issues such as dam construction may drive attention of LMB governments away from the urgent need of a transboundary adaptation strategy. 

-       However, the threats of irrelevance and slow uptake of knowledge and approaches produced by CCAI can be reduced to some extent because, in general, relevant national climate change agencies and institutions have been engaged in the implementation of CCAI with great interest. Regional activities and outputs of the CCAI are long expected for filling the knowledge and capacity gaps in the Member Countries especially on the information related to status of climate change and impacts of future climate change on the basin. 

-       The commitment and support of LMB governments was varied while the support of development partners was strong. 

-       Due to the required intensive consultation and capacity building for member countries during implementation it is found that the original planning is ambitious. More time should be allocated for each step of the CCAI works.