26-27 April 2017, Luang Prabang, Lao PDR, 28th Apr 2017
Senior officials of the four Member Countries from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam gathered at Luang Prabang, Lao PDR, during 26-27 April 2017 for the Forty-Fifth Meeting of The Joint (JC) of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) to deliberate on key issues and activities of the MRC.
In his opening speech, Dr. Inthavy Akkharath, Acting Secretary General of Lao National Mekong Committee Secretariat, Chairperson of the MRC Joint Committee for 2017, said: “I acknowledge the tremendous challenges lying ahead of us, including but not limited to such things as addressing the effects of floods, drought, climate change, possible mainstream development projects and transboundary impacts from such development. Nevertheless, with the trust and support extended by other JC Members, I am fully convinced these obstacles will gradually be overcome.”
Participants discussed the implementation of MRC Procedures including ongoing Prior Consultation process for the Pak Beng hydropower project; implementation of the Basin Development Strategy, especially the recently agreed joint projects of National Indicative Plans; the ongoing work on preparing the State of Basin Report; strategic cooperation plans with Dialogue Partners – China and Myanmar, including Mekong Lancang Cooperation Mechanism, and other partners; ongoing MRC decentralization, and implementation of Public Participation and stakeholder engagement. The Joint Committee agreed to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between MRC and Morocco and is considering the new MOU between MRC and ASEAN.
The meeting was also the opportunity for participants to provide guidance on the establishment of Expert Groups and operations of the MRC Regional Flood Management and Mitigation Center; the Council Study; and the implementation of the MRC Annual Work Plan 2017 and financial and human resources issues. The Joint Committee urged the Secretariat to expedite activities relating to climate change, flood and drought management.
The Mekong River Commissionis the intergovernmental body responsible for cooperation on the sustainable management of the Mekong Basin whose members include Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam. It serves as a regional platform for water diplomacy as well as a knowledge hub of water resources management for the sustainable development of the region. It is not a supra-national or regulatory body. The commission looks across all sectors including sustaining fisheries, identifying opportunities for agriculture, maintaining the freedom of navigation, flood management and preserving important ecosystems. Superimposed on these are the future effects of more extreme floods, prolonged drought and sea level rise associated with climate change.