Fueling Transformation in the Mekong: Thailand’s Trade in Agro-Energy

  • Sabrina Shaw
  • Samai Jai-In
  • Muanpong Juntopas
Part of the Asia in Transition book series (AT, volume 7)


The Mekong region stands at an important development juncture, where the dynamics of sustainability are being defined through an unprecedented level of cooperation on agriculture, energy, and trade in combination with action to address climate change. This chapter examines the policy space to develop sustainable agriculture while fueling transformation in the Mekong region based on research from the field. This research brings together evidence, pointing to the need for a paradigm shift in the food, energy, and water nexus toward greater policy integration. The use of bioenergy may promote energy security, revitalize rural economies, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions if implemented at the local community level. However, meeting food and energy needs in the twenty-first century, especially in Southeast Asia, will require a range of approaches to shift the current development paradigm in order to enhance natural resource governance and climate-friendly agricultural practices. This research shows that if current practices prevail, Thailand is likely to use an unsustainable model of trade-led development at the regional level. To the end, this chapter puts forward an alternative development strategy to build on the synergies between small-scale initiatives and agro-energy sustainability. However, evidence indicates that these synergies will be difficult to capture in the current policy climate that separates people’s well-being, social progress, and ecosystem sustainability from intensifying resource use in the Mekong.


Mekong region Thailand Trade Regional integration Bioenergy Agro-energy Biofuels Sustainable development Resource use Community-based resource management Smallholders Value chains Climate change 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)Buenos AiresArgentina
  2. 2.Alternative Energy Foundation, Institute of Thailand (AEF)BangkokThailand
  3. 3.Climate Change Adaptation Specialist, Asian Development Bank (ADB)BangkokThailand

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