Phuket, Thailand, 1st May 2012 - 3rd May 2012
The sustainable management of water resources is the key to people’s lives and the development of society. When these resources cross international and regional boundaries, the demand becomes more complex, needing greater cooperation and involving a wider range of actors.
Throughout the world, there are hundreds of transboundary rivers and lakes. Today these resources are under increasing pressure from both environmental and man-made changes including potential uses of different sectors. This is also the case for the Mekong River whose vast transboundary water and related resources underpin multi-billion-dollar economic potential for the development of fisheries, agriculture and forestry, hydropower, navigation and trade. These can also bring about associated risks.
It is therefore even more urgent to address water in an integrated manner taking into account its inter-dependency with other sectors. Inter-governmental River Basin Organisations including the Mekong River Commission (MRC) have played a key role in ensuring that the joint management and development of shared resources will be made in the most sustainable and efficient manner.
Set to be a milestone on the road to Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in 2012, Mekong2Rio was an international gathering of key players aiming to share their expertise in transboundary water resources management. This was the first in a series of biennial conferences of its kind convened by the MRC.
The conference was a platform for discussion on how existing River Basin Organisations manage and develop shared resources and how to strengthen their institutional frameworks, governing structures and management practices. The event was an opportunity for them to exchange technical knowledge and address challenges on critical issues including energy, food and water.
The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992 was an historic milestone ensuring development is balanced with environmental and social concerns. The Rio+20 conference aims at assessing what has been achieved since then and which gaps need to be filled and what political commitments will be required. Mekong2Rio added a water dimension to Rio+20, whose themes were centred on a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and the institutional framework needed.
Mekong2Rio was a three-day platform for international River Basin Oragnisations, policy makers, leaders, government officials, civil society representatives, non-governmental organisations, academics and development agencies to share their vast experience and knowledge. The MRC used this opportunity to bridge gaps in knowledge and exchange good practices among the participants.
There were high-level plenary, parallel technical and dialogue sessions. Specific attention was paid to the challenges the Mekong and other river basins are facing. The gathering served as a platform to promote an exchange of ideas that led to novel approaches, new solutions and the use of up-to-date technology, while protecting the environment and people’s livelihoods. A field trip was organised for participants on May 4.
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Some to about 60 million people, the Lower Mekong River Basin has experienced rapid development, urbanisation and population growth which have adverse effects on the Mekong resources
The 1st Rhine-Mekong Symposium concluded that although the two basins are different, they share common challenges which provide a basis for potential cooperation amongst their river basin organisations.
Ministerial delegates from the MRC Council today reaffirmed the organisation’s relevance as a regional cooperation platform as it agreed on key issues
Accelerating basin-wide studies to reduce negative impacts and battling natural disaster woes are among key priorities for Mekong nations