Vientiane, Lao PDR, 30th Nov 2016
Vientiane, Lao PDR, 30 November 2016 – The Mekong River Commission is not only a technical body to provide scientific information for better water resources management in the lower Mekong basin but also a platform for water diplomacy to support water negotiations among the member countries, according to outcomes of its first ever workshop on water diplomacy which began yesterday at the office of the MRC Secretariat in Vientiane.
The two-day regional workshop on water diplomacy in the Mekong River Basin, which was supported by the German government, offered an opportunity for representatives of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam as well as experts of the MRC Secretariat to candidly discuss its roles in the past and future. The opportunity reaffirmed the MRC’s role as a platform for water diplomacy where the member countries with different national interests and priorities negotiate within an agreed legal framework optimal use of shared water resources for the benefits of the region and its people. Workshop participants included two members of the MRC Joint Committee, foreign affairs officials, and experts from the World Bank, United Nations Department of Political Affairs and international river basin organizations.
“Achieving and ensuring water security is an imminent 21st century challenge. It demands preventive action,” said German Ambassador to Lao PDR Michael Grau in his opening remarks at the workshop. “MRC has a comprehensive mandate and the opportunity to lay the foundation for long-term sustainable development along the Mekong. It can increasingly link its scientific work to the policy domain.”
During the workshop, the participants exchanged practical experience in water diplomacy at national and regional levels through group discussions, and learned lessons from other international river basin organisations on how to respond to and deal with challenges and opportunities in sharing of water resources. The experts particularly look at how water diplomacy could prevent tensions in a river basin and what legal, procedural and institutional frameworks could support such efforts.
The participants further discussed how the reaffirmed role can be linked to the MRC work on basin-wide strategies and procedural rules on water cooperation, and recommended to strengthen the regional water diplomacy through better information sharing and wider stakeholder engagement.
Reflecting such discussions, the participants agreed to develop a short report with action plan to materialise those recommendations in coming months.
For more information, please contact:
The Office of the Secretariat in Vientiane
Phone: +856 021-263 263
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