Finland funds basin development planning through US$8.7 million support to MRC

Vientiane, Lao PDR, 8th Feb 2007

The Mekong River Commission (MRC) and the Government of Finland today signed an agreement worth Euro 6,728, 010 (US$8.679 million) to support basin development planning through the MRC’s new Information and Knowledge Management Programme (IKMP).

The new funding agreement, which will be spread over four years, was signed by H.E. Lars Backström, Ambassador of Finland to Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar and Dr Olivier Cogels, Chief Executive Officer MRC Secretariat at the MRC Secretariat headquarters in Vientiane.

This agreement aims to support the IKMP, with specific emphasis on its relation to basin development planning. The IKMP is designed to facilitate access to and use of the data, information and decision support tools necessary to promote and co-ordinate sustainable development of water and related resources in the Mekong Basin. It incorporates exchange and sharing of data on water resources, hydrology and meteorology as well as all other resources required to implement the work of the MRC's programmes, such as management of high quality and integrated MRC-IS databases, and the capacity to analyse and interpret data.

One of the programme’s most powerful tools is the Decision Support Framework (DSF) – a state-of-the-art computer based system which can provide the MRC with the capability to investigate the environmental and socio-economic impacts of changes in the quantity and the quality of flows in the Lower Mekong river system, brought about by changing circumstances within the river basin. This type of basin planning is essential if the MRC’s Member States of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam are to make informed decisions about sustainable development in the basin.

Dr Cogels thanked the Finnish Government for its continued generous support for the work of the MRC and

“Finland has long been a supporter of the MRC supporting the Water Utilisation Programme, which has already undertaken many hydrological studies of the Mekong River Basin and the Tonle Sap-Great Lake system, and the senior modeling adviser” he said.

“Finland understands the importance of MRC having a comprehensive and reliable knowledge base in order to provide the right kind of information for our Member States to undertake sustainable development of their water and related resources, in order to alleviate poverty. The MRC has already established a solid foundation with its current databases, but we now need to build on this if we are to achieve long term basin planning which will be of benefit to the people of the basin, while ensuring the ecological balance is maintained.”

H.E. Ms Marjatta Rasi, Under-Secretary of State, said the Finnish Government was very happy to be playing such a leading role in the sustainable development planning of the Mekong River Basin.

“We understand that there is a necessity for the basin’s water resources to be better used if we are to see a reduction in poverty and an improvement in the social and economic standards in the basin,” she said.

“But we are also very aware that any developments need to be carefully considered for all their ramifications if we are to ensure environmental impacts are minimised. This is where sound basin planning comes in and where we hope our contribution to the work of the MRC will bring about some lasting and positive outputs.”

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