Finland funds hydropower development, capacity building at the MRC

Vientiane, Lao PDR, 7th Nov 2007

The Mekong River Commission (MRC) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland today signed an agreement worth Euro 2 million (around US$2.87 million) to support the development of a hydropower programme (one million euro), Junior Riparian Professional (JRP) project (750,000 Euro) and for the MRC’s Water Management Trust Fund (250,000 Euro).

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 Mr Do Manh Hung, Officer-in-Charge of the MRC Secretariat at the MRC Secretariat headquarters in Vientiane.

This agreement aims to enable the MRC to start up its hydropower programme and fund a second phase of the JRP project, as well as supporting the Water Management Trust Fund.

The JRP project is part of the MRC’s Integrated Capacity Building Programme and this second phase will see 40 bright young riparian professionals given the opportunity to work, train and learn at the MRC over a period of four years. This group will include young professionals from the water sector in all four MRC countries and also lecturers from universities in the region. The project aims at having at least 35% of its JRPs being female.

The MRC has been planning a hydropower programme for some time and this funding will enable the development of this programme. The objective of MRC’s involvement in hydropower development is to promote efficient and socio-economically and environmentally appropriate development of hydropower in the MRC member countries in a cooperative and coordinated way.

The Water Management Trust Fund is a flexible fund which was established by the MRC so it can respond to short term needs of its member countries. These include strategic policy studies and consultancies, study visits and consultation processes on transboundary issues, and programme development needs such as review workshops and evaluations.

Mr Hung 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, only this year the Finnish government agreed to provide more than US$ 8 million to support implementation of our new Information and Knowledge Management Programme,” he said.

“We are particularly grateful for Finland’s support in the areas of capacity building and hydropower development, which are two of the areas intrinsically tied to sustainable development in the basin. If the MRC’s Member States are to meet their development goals one of their prime needs is to increase the capacity of young riparians in the field of integrated water resources management and this new scheme will enable MRC to play a leading role in this progress.”

Mr Hung added that MRC had an important role to play in sustainable hydropower development within the basin, with regard to transboundary issues and projects with basinwide impacts and to common projects which involve two or more MRC countries.

He explained that the MRC could provide technical and managerial expertise to member countries and funding agencies and also become involved in planning, monitoring and mitigation measures if requested by member countries.

The Mekong River Commission is an intergovernmental organisation created in 1995 by an agreement between the governments of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam cooperation for sustainable development of water and related resources of the Mekong River Basin.

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