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An Uncertain Future: Working Towards a Thriving Tonle Sap

2nd Mekong Virtual Symposium

Wednesday, November 18 from 9:00 - 10:30 pm EST


Thursday, November 19 from 9:00 am – 10:30 am ICT

An Uncertain Future: Working Towards a Thriving Tonle Sap 

The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, Bureau of Global Public Affairs, Embassy Phnom Penh, Embassy Bangkok, and the Sustainable Infrastructure Partnership are pleased to announce the second Mekong Virtual Symposium. This program will engage key stakeholders on the range of issues facing the Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia: fishing and fish migration, plastics, floods and droughts, sediment, and dam impacts.  


The Mekong River is home to one of the most biodiverse river ecosystems in the world with over 1,100 species of fish.  The Tonle Sap Lake – the world’s most productive inland fishery – is a unique and critical part of this complex system. During the annual monsoon season, the lake swells in size and experiences a flow reversal, where instead of water flowing from the lake to the Mekong, water goes from the Mekong into the lake. This phenomenon is fundamental to maintaining fish passage and sediment flows, and ultimately, the thriving ecosystems and livelihoods reliant on the Tonle Sap.  As the Mekong’s flow reversal happens later and later each year, the Tonle Sap now faces an uncertain future. 


Join us before the program for a networking virtual happy hour; immediately following the program, participants will have the opportunity to join expert-led discussion breakout groups on specific topics and regions of interest.


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Ms. Chea Seila,

Project Manager, Wonders of the Mekong

Ms. Chea Seila has been working as a volunteer, research assistant, researcher, facilitator, coordinator and project manager with different projects focusing on protection and management of natural resources and communities’ livelihoods depending on the Mekong River and their systems in Cambodia. She spent most of her time working in communities along the Rivers in Stung Treng Province, and the communities around Tonle Sap River and Lake. As a research officer, livelihood, and social safeguard specialist, she has 10 years’ experience in community led action research or participatory action research which documented the local fishers’ knowledge and wisdom on fish, herbs for food and medicine, livelihoods and freshwater wetlands. She designed methodology on social safeguards for the Stung Treng Ramsar Site in Cambodia – Integrating Fisheries Management and Wetlands Conservation aimed to strengthen a co-management approach to freshwater protected areas. Currently, she plays a role in managing the Wonders of the Mekong Project. She is responsible for coordinating most aspects of the Project in Cambodia, including Interdisciplinary Research and Conservation; Training and Capacity Building; and Environmental Education and Outreach activities.


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Dr. So Nam,

Chief Environment Officer, Mekong River Commission

Dr. So Nam is the Chief Environment Management Officer of the Environmental Management Division of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) Secretariat. He has over 25 years of working knowledge and experiences in inland fisheries and their assessment, management and development in transboundary river basins in Southeast Asia, Europe, Australia, North and South America, and Africa. He has received, mobilized and implemented numerous awards and grants of the total value of more than US$ 35 million from a diversity of donor agencies and international organizations. Dr. So Nam has written more than 100 technical reports related to inland fisheries and aquaculture in English language, published over 70 peer-reviewed journal papers, and recently he has jointly published five papers in Science and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science on impacts of hydropower projects on fish and fisheries in Amazon, Congo and Mekong rivers.

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Dr. Zeb Hogan,

Assistant Professor, University of Nevada Reno and Director of Wonders of the Mekong

Dr. Zeb Hogan is an assistant professor at the University of Nevada-Reno, the United Nations Convention on Migratory Species Councilor for Fish, and a National Geographic Society Explorer. Dr. Hogan received his Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of California, Davis in 2004. His research interests include aquatic ecosystems, freshwater fish ecology, fish migration, fisheries management, and endangered species issues. Currently, Dr. Hogan is the Director of the Wonders of the Mekong Project and host of the National Geographic show Monster Fish with Zeb Hogan.

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Dr. Jenna Jambeck,

Professor, University of Georgia and co-founder of Marine Debris Tracker

Dr. Jenna Jambeck is a Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor in Environmental Engineering at the University of Georgia, Head of the Center for Circular Materials Management in the New Materials Institute and a National Geographic Fellow. She has been conducting research on solid waste issues for 24 years with related projects on marine debris for 19 years. Her work on plastic waste inputs into the ocean has been recognized by the global community and translated into policy discussions in the US as well as around the world where she has worked with the US State Department on public environmental diplomacy in 13 different countries.

Missed the event ?

Check out the panelist presentations below and the recorded program in English and Khmer! We will be sharing answers to audience questions and the full set of comments soon.

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