The Salween River is a transboundary river supporting the livelihoods of more than ten million people across China, Myanmar (Burma), and Thailand. Known by many names--Gyalmo Ngulchu in the Tibetan region where it originates, Nu Jiang in Yunnan, Salawin in Thailand, Nam Khone in Myanmar’s (Burma) Shan State, and Thanlwin more generally throughout the country of Myanmar--the river represents a multifaceted resource of cultural, ecological, historical, and political values. 

My research on the Salween over the past 15 years began with my position working with TERRA, based in Bangkok, Thailand, on the magazine, Watershed: A People's Forum on Ecology. Since that time, I also wrote my doctoral dissertation Ecologies of Rule & Resistance on Salween water governance, and have been involved as researcher, PI, and collaborator of two significant CGIAR-WLE funded projects focused on water governance in the Salween River Basin.

A path-breaking new book published in 2019 as a result of multi-year research collaboration on the Salween:

Knowing the Salween River: Resource Politics of a Contested Transboundary River, edited by Dr Vanessa Lamb and Dr Carl Middleton with collaborators from across the region. Springer. Open Access:

You can watch the first Launch of the book at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand here.

Other recent publications resulting from that work include:

Hydrosocial practice in an urbanising floodplain: local management and dilemmas of beneficial flooding

   Lamb, V. 2019. International Development Planning Review, pp.1-21.

Who knows the river? Gender, expertise, and the politics of local ecological knowledge production of the Salween River, Thai-Myanmar border

    V. Lamb. 2018. Gender, Place & Culture 25 (10): 1-12.

Where is the border?” Villagers, environmental consultants and the ‘work’ of the Thai–Burma border.

    V. Lamb. 2014. Political Geography, 40, pp.1-12.

Perceptions and Practices of Investment: China's hydropower investments in mainland Southeast Asia

    V. Lamb and Nga Dao. 2017. Canadian Journal of Development Studies 38 (3): 395-413.

Whose border? Border talk and discursive governance of the Salween River-border

    V. Lamb. 2016. Chapter in C. Johnson and R. Jones (eds). Placing the Border in Everyday Life. Ashgate. 

Making governance ‘good’: The production of scale in environmental impact assessment and governance of the Salween River

    V. Lamb. 2015. Conservation & Society 12 (4): 386-97.

Salween Water Governance Research Project (MK21)

The full, rather unruly, title for this project is "Matching policies, institutions and practices of water governance in the Salween-Thanlwin-Nu River Basin: Towards inclusive, informed, and accountable water governance." The collaborators for this project included a range of researchers from civil society and academia, including Green Watershed (China), Kesan (Thailand and Myanmar), Chulalongkorn University (Thailand), REAM (Myanmar), Weaving Bonds Across Borders (Myanmar), Mong Pan Youth (Myanmar), Chiang Mai University (Thailand), as well as independent researchers.  We aimed to produce a comprehensive "mapping" of the policy frameworks around water governance for the basin at local, national, and regional scales. This is done in a series of reports, as well as the first book on the Salween.

A few key outputs from this project include:

Forthcoming edited volume, Knowing the Salween River: Resource Politics of a Contested Transboundary River, edited by myself and Dr Carl Middleton with collaborators from across the region.

The dynamic film-based website, Salween Stories

Our wiki page (now-defunct but includes all outputs up to end 2017)

series of reports on national water governance of the Salween.

An article in Critical Asian Studies, titled Putting violent armed conflict in the center of the Salween hydropower debates

Series of Salween Studies Conferences

Working with dedicated colleagues in Thailand, China, and Myanmar, I served as co-chair of a series of Salween Studies conferences, meetings and workshops.

2018 Salween Research Workshop: The Role of Research for a Sustainable Salween River Agenda.
    -Workshop report
    -Conference proceedings (with abstracts and presentations)

2016 Salween University Network Research Meeting: Towards a Shared Vision for the Salween-Thanlwin-Nu
2014 First International Conference on Salween-Thanlwin-Nu Studies “State of Knowledge: Environmental Change, Livelihoods and Development”
    -Conference website (with abstracts and presentations)

Salween Fellowship Program (MK31)

Hosted by the Centre for Social Development Studies, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand, the project has supported 13 research fellows through a mentored fellowship program. I served as mentor and collaborator to one of these fellows and have worked with the group to publish their findings. This group of talented research fellows have produced a range of research on the Salween basin, including an important series of policy briefs. 

Funding note: The two projects above (MK21 and MK31) as well as the 2016 and 2018 Salween meetings were carried out under the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) in the Greater Mekong with support from CGIAR Fund Donors ( and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).