Conceptualizing environmental governance on the GBM basin

In: Bandung

River water sharing is an issue that is dealt by the South Asian neighboring countries for the last four decades. Water management of Ganges–Brahmaputra Meghna (GBM) basin is a controversial issue, which is not yet developed as a regional cooperative mechanism. The GBM river basin countries also represent the projection of relative power differences among its upper stream and lower stream countries. Considering the geopolitical context and hydro-politics of the region, the study examines potential scopes for effective regional governance to GBM’s ecological integrity and to share common river water among China, Bhutan, Nepal, India and Bangladesh. The study uses Rittberger et al. (2006) explanatory model (that explains three conditions—Problem, Cognitive and Hegemonic conditions) in the development of multilateral organizations in GBM region. The study deals with the question—what conditions facilitate GBM based water governance among five main riparian countries (upstream and downstream) in resolving the water scarcity challenges in the region. The paper argues that realization of shortage of water and environmental degradation as an interdependent problem, influence of an inclusive epistemic community (cognitive condition) and a hegemonic leadership (power is willing to accept the relative gain of others states for the absolute gain of itself)—are required to foster water resource governance of the GBM for sustainable development of the region.

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