Germany commits €8 million to protect Mekong wetlands

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Vientiane, Lao PDR, 17th Feb 2012

New cooperation aims to enhance transboundary management of priority areas

Vientiane, Lao PDR, 17 February 2012—The Federal Republic of Germany today committed €8 million (approximately $USD10.5 million) to the Mekong River Commission for the conservation and sustainable use of selected wetland sites in the Lower Mekong Basin. The funding will go to support strategies and actions to improve wetland management. 

The financial commitment was an outcome of a discussion today between Mr. Dirk Niebel, German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, and Mr. Hans Guttman, Chief Executive Officer of the MRC Secretariat. 

“Loss of natural wetlands in the Lower Mekong Basin has been widespread due to many pressures including infrastructure development, intensification of agriculture and deforestation,” said Mr. Guttman. 

Wetlands management has long been an important part of MRC’s work. Studies show that the Mekong River wetlands are important in maintaining the high biodiversity of the region. For many, especially poorer households in the region, wetlands help put food on their tables and money in their pockets. The locally available flora and fauna are their primary source of meat, fruits, vegetables, fodder for livestock, medicines and construction materials, while the unique biodiversity provides ample opportunities for leisure activities and tourism. 

“The financial and technical support committed by Germany will strengthen and enhance the MRC’s work in this area at both the regional and national levels,” he added. 

Germany’s latest financial contribution will be utilised for further protection and sustainable use of wetlands in the basin until 2020. It is part of Germany’s overall renewed support to the MRC which was signed last year, addressing key challenges and opportunities for the Mekong River Basin and the future of the MRC’s organisational structure. 

“Our financial commitment today will provide additional support to concerted efforts in the region to ensure timely protection and sustainable management,” said Mr. Niebel.

“Germany’s support will focus on selected priority sites where integrated and transboundary approaches are needed and where regional cooperation is important,” said Mr. Niebel.

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Notes to editor:

Germany has been a major Development Partner of the MRC since 1997. Current support includes funding towards the Flood Management and Mitigation Programme, the Climate Change Adaptation Initiative and the Initiative on Sustainable Hydropower.

Germany signed a Joint Declaration of Intent and Strategic Framework for Cooperation with the MRC in February 2011. The framework for the cooperation focuses on issues surrounding organizational transition towards decentralization of its core functions, pro-poor oriented sustainable hydropower development and transboundary climate change adaptation.

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, the commission looks across all sectors including sustaining fisheries, identifying opportunities for agriculture, maintaining freedom of navigation, flood management and preserving important ecosystems.

By 2030, the MRC’s goal is to achieve financial sustainability with the support of its member states. A large extent of Germany’s support is to assist the MRC with strategies to progressively achieve financial autonomy as well as guidance on how to strengthen its capacity in river basin management at various governance levels.

For more information, please contact:

Mr. Surasak Glahan, Communication Officer
Office of the Secretariat in Vientiane
Tel: +856 20 555 28726 
Email: Surasak@mrcmekong.org

Mr. David W. Smith, Communication Officer
Office of the Secretariat in Vientiane
Tel: +856 020 5989 5961       
Email: david@mrcmekong.org

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