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EditPhoto Title:Greater Mekong
EditPhoto Description:The mighty Mekong River and the land surrounding it hold incalculable riches — riches that are in danger.
EditImage Url:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_22007578.jpg
EditImage Description:Woman rows to a floating market in the Mekong region.
EditPhoto Credit:© Amir Jina
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Map of the Mekong region. © Conservation International

Imagine a place with rivers full of fish, lush forests, incredible cultural diversity — even floating villages.


You’re picturing the Mekong Basin, the area that surrounds the Mekong River in southeast Asia. This region spans six countries, is nearly twice the size of California and directly supports the livelihoods of more than 60 million people.

It’s an amazing place. We depend on it.

But we’re also changing it — and not always for the better.

Why is the Greater Mekong important?

Food We Eat

The Greater Mekong has been called Asia’s “fish basket” and its “rice bowl.” The Mekong River produces 4.5 million metric tons (9.9 billion pounds) of fish every year, contributing about 80% of the protein in the region’s household diets. The region’s freshwater system is also critical for growing rice, which provides more than half of the daily caloric intake in countries across the Greater Mekong.

Water We Drink

For the 60 million people who call the Greater Mekong home, and the millions more who will be joining them in the years to come, the Mekong River sustains life. From its source high on the Tibetan Plateau to its delta in Vietnam, the Mekong provides water for countless people who live along its path.

Jobs And Prosperity

What if you depended directly on nature to live? In the Greater Mekong, this isn’t a hypothetical question. There, some 85% of the population relies on forestry, agriculture or fishing for their livelihoods. In Laos, for example, more than two-thirds of the population is employed in the agricultural sector.

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EditSection TitleWhat are the issues?
EditSection ID (Anchor Tag):issues[Optional]

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EditCircle color (For Mobile View): fact--brown    
EditCircle icon:icon-deforestation
EditCircle icon:fact--brown-stumps
 
EditResult value:95%
EditResult field:Tonle Sap forests lost
EditTitle:Deforestation
EditText:Large-scale clearing is a significant threat to the Greater Mekong’s unique, valuable forests. And the pace of deforestation is dizzying. Consider Cambodia, where annual floods inundate forests and make them productive breeding grounds for fish. More than 95% of the forests around the country’s Tonle Sap Lake have been destroyed by unsustainable agricultural and fishing practices. Such forest loss reduces habitat for wildlife and reliable flows of fresh water, and contributes to changes in the climate that will affect us all.

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EditCircle color (For Mobile View):fact--blue    
EditCircle icon: icon-dam
EditCircle icon: fact--blue-raindrops
 
EditResult value:>100
EditResult field:dams planned for the Mekong
EditTitle:Dams
EditText:More than 100 dams are planned or already under development on the Mekong River and its tributaries. That’s not all bad news — dams can bring energy to impoverished populations. But poorly implemented dams cause serious problems. Water levels downstream from the dams fluctuate. Water quality declines. Populations of fish and other species are devastated. And people’s livelihoods are put at risk.

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EditCircle color (For Mobile View): fact--color-E5B53B    
EditCircle icon:icon-logs
EditCircle icon:fact--yellow-currencies
 
EditResult value:>$30 billion
EditResult field:in illegal logging
EditTitle:Illegal logging and wildlife poaching
EditText:Across the Greater Mekong, fueled by the growing Asian middle class and a desire for luxury timber and traditional medicine, illegal logging and wildlife poaching are on the rise. And the effects are devastating. Illegal logging accounts for more than 15% of timber removals in the tropics and is worth over US$ 30 billion worldwide. In Cambodia, the amount of the country’s land covered by forests has fallen from over 70% in 1970 to approximately 40% in 2007. Plus, endangered animals like elephants, pangolins, tigers, clouded leopards and sun bears are being hunted and sold, leading to declining species populations and providing funding for criminal activity.

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EditCircle color (For Mobile View):fact--color-532913    
EditCircle icon: icon-people
EditCircle icon: fact--brown-cracked-earth
 
EditResult value:60 million
EditResult field:people affected by climate change
EditTitle:Climate change
EditText:Altered weather patterns, warmer temperatures and extreme weather are already playing a serious role in the lives of those who live in the Greater Mekong. And as the climate continues to change, the region — given its low-lying land, pockets of poverty and direct dependence on nature — is particularly vulnerable. Many local villagers have little money or other resources to survive on if fisheries decline or flash floods destroy their homes. As many as 60 million people in the region may be devastated by climate change.
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EditHeader:CI’s solutions
EditAnchor tag for sticky nav:solutions[Optional]

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EditSection Title:Supporting livelihoods
Edit Section Title Style:h3--logomark--responsiveGray With Logo
EditImage URL: /SiteCollectionImages/ci_94491816.jpg
EditImage Description: Anlung Reang floating village on Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia. © Kristin Harrison and Jeremy Ginsberg
EditText: CI is working to ensure that Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Lake and its floodplains remain a healthy, naturally functioning freshwater ecosystem. We focus on improving the well-being and economic resilience of the “floating villages” atop the lake — ensuring that they have access to safe drinking water, renewable energy and diverse ways to make a living.
READ MORE: Tonle Sap Lake: Conserving Cambodia’s Fish Factory
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EditPhoto Credit:© Kristin Harrison and Jeremy Ginsberg
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EditSection Title:Protecting forest resources
Edit Section Title Style:h3--logomark--responsiveGray With Logo
EditImage URL: /SiteCollectionImages/ci_14779778.jpg
EditImage Description: Areng River, Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia. © Conservation International/photo by David Emmett
EditText: Cambodia’s forests cover nearly 40% of the country and are vital for the local communities that rely on them for food and livelihoods. But poor enforcement of laws against deforestation is leading to the rapid loss of these forests. CI is working to restore and protect Cambodia’s rich forest habitats.
READ MORE: Cambodia’s Central Cardamoms Protected Forest
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EditPhoto Credit:© Conservation International/photo by David Emmett
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EditModule Title:What can you do?
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EditAnchor tag for sticky nav:actions[Optional]

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Edit Section Title:Watch
Edit Section subtitle:Meet Sophy, a woman in the Mekong whose family has benefitted from learning sustainable fishing and smart business practices.
Edit Video ID:1DpFxuwgVHs
Edit Video Thumbnail (must be 16x9 pixel ratio):[Optional]
Edit Video Page URL:/pages/video.aspx
Edit Video image alt text:Video: Improving Lives in Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia.
Edit Background image:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_93188989.jpg
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Edit Section Title:Travel sustainably
Edit Section subtitle:Tourism is a major economic driver for the Greater Mekong — and there are steps you can take to make sure your travel has a positive impact.
Edit Button link:/pages/what-you-can-do-tips.aspx#travel-sustainably
Edit Button text:Learn more
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Newsletter

EditNewsletter Title:Keep in touch
EditNewsletter Message:Get the latest updates on CI’s work in the Greater Mekong — and on the rest of our conservation efforts — delivered to your inbox.
EditNewsletter Confirmation Message Title:Thank you for joining
EditNewsletter Confirmation Message Text:You should expect to recieve a Welcome email and periodic updates on our work.
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EditDonate Title:Donate
EditDonate Message:Donate to CI to help conserve the Greater Mekong’s vibrant ecosystems.
EditDonate Button Text:Give now
EditDonate Button Link:/donate
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More of Our Work Links

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First Image

EditTitle:Food
EditImage:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_73088367.jpg
EditLink:/what/pages/food-agriculture-and-fisheries.aspx
EditImage Alt Text:Woman harvests eggplant. © Benjamin Drummond

Second Image

EditTitle:Fresh water
EditImage:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_22439117.jpg
EditLink:/what/pages/fresh-water.aspx
EditImage Alt Text:Udzungwa National Park provides the communities that surround it with clean drinking water. © Benjamin Drummond

Third Image

EditTitle:Livelihoods
EditImage:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_35597459.jpg
EditLink:/what/pages/livelihoods.aspx
EditImage Alt Text:Fisherman cast a net to catch fish. © Keith A. Ellenbogen
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