Cooperation and Sharing of Knowledge Vital to Protecting and Adapting to the Changes of the Mekong Environment and Climate Risks Says MRC

Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam, 26th Apr 2010

Scientists, government officers, and NGOs from around the world are meeting this week in Ho Chi Minh City to discuss environmental and climate change issues in the Mekong basin.

The Mekong Environment and Climate Symposium, organized by the Mekong River Commission (MRC), will pick up from the recent MRC Summit, where Prime Ministers form the four MRC Member Countries of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam agreed that adjusting to the challenges posed by basin developments and climate change in the basin is a regional priority, and that the countries of the basin face unique threats of environmental degradation and climate change impacts.

In the past, the MRC has said that the Mekong region is one of the most vulnerable in the world to the long-term impacts of climate change, due to intensity of floods and droughts and sea level rise, the high proportion of people living on low incomes and regionally low institutional capacity to deal with the issue.

“It is vital that people of the Mekong region work together and share our knowledge and skills” said Pornsook Chongprasith , Director of the Environment Division of the Mekong River Commission (MRC), which organised the Symposium. “We aim to provide a platform of knowledge sharing and information exchange to strengthen efforts to protect and adapt to the changes of the Mekong environment and climate”.

The MRC says that climate change is just one of the concerns facing the countries of the Mekong basin.Other threats to the diverse and productive environment include pollution from rapid urban and agricultural developments and changes in river flows and sediment supply due to planned hydropower development. These issues were outlined in a report launched earlier this month.

“The biodiversity, ecological health and fisheries resources of much of the Basin are under threat, and, now, we need, more than ever, to engage stakeholders to participate in the effort.” said Dr. Pornsook.

During the two day Symposium (26-27 April 2010), the current status, knowledge, relevant activities and actions related to Mekong environment and climate change will be discussed, exchanged, and summarized. The outputs of the Symposium will help MRC target its future support programmes.

-ends-

Notes to Editors

For more information regarding the report mentioned in the above article, please go to: http://www.mrcmekong.org/download/State-of-the-Basin-Report-2010.zip

The Mekong Climate Change and Adaptation Initiative is a new intensified joint effort to tackle climate change in the Mekong Basin . It is already being supported by the Governments of Australia, Finland and Sweden .

The initiative aims to assist MRC countries including Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam in developing and implementing climate change adaptation strategies to deal with the consequences across the basin of an increase in the mean temperature, potentially higher rainfall and more frequent flooding in some parts of the basin, more drought in other parts, and sea level rise impacting the delta.

Much MRC work has already been done to estimate and model likely changes in temperature, rainfall and river flows based on ‘downscaling’ global predictions of climate change.

The MRC is the intergovernmental body responsible for cooperation on the sustainable management of the Mekong Basin whose members include Cambodia , Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam . In dealing with this challenge, it 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. In providing its advice, the MRC aims to facilitate a broad range of dialogue among governments, the private sector and civil society on these challenges.

For More Information, please contact:

Sukthawee Suwannachairop
Tel: + 856 (0)20 795 4876 or + 84 (0)12 859 55422.
E-mail: sukthawee@mrcmekong.org
Website: www.mrcmekong.org

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