The Greater Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy is the largest meeting that focuses on the costs and benefits of balancing water, food, and energy necessary for sustained growth around the Mekong region. The Forum was held in November 2016 in Thailand, and saw attendance from more than 360 participants representing 30 different nationalities and 185 different organizations. This reflected quite an increase in participation compared to 2015 when only 139 participants attended. The Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) hosted the forum with support from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) of the Australian government and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) in Thailand. The Forum consisted of 35 sessions organized under six themes that included governance, resettlement, food and development, monitoring for management, a changing environment, and energy solutions.
This Forum allowed for researchers and technical experts to share their experiences, and provided a good opportunity for FISHBIO Laos and The Asia Foundation to give a presentation on monitoring macroinvertebrates to assess river health. Before giving the presentation, we played a macroinvertebrate picture game with attendees so they could learn how to identify species of macroinvertebrates, such as insect larvae or molluscs, and how to assign each species a score related to river water quality condition.
At the end of the workshop, an evaluation survey was conducted to learn whether the participants found the knowledge and experiences shared during the forum to be useful. The evaluation results show that participants thought water quality monitoring using macroinvertebrates to assess river health was a very informative method that could be applied in different habitats where there are the streams, rivers, and even wetlands. It was very exciting day for FISHBIO Lao staff to meet many people and build our network with technical experts from many different counties.