Vientiane, Lao PDR, 23 Feb 2011
The Federal Republic of Germany renewed its support to Mekong Cooperation through the Mekong River Commission today, with a new strategic framework on issues surrounding organisational transition towards decentralization of its core functions, pro-poor oriented sustainable hydropower development and transboundary climate change adaptation. The framework for the cooperation between the MRC and the Federal Republic of Germany addresses key challenges and opportunities for the Mekong River Basin and the future of the MRC’s organisational structure.
The Joint Declaration of Intent was signed by Mr. Dominik Ziller, Deputy Director of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and Mr. Jeremy Bird, CEO of the MRC Secretariat. It was attended by the German Ambassador to Lao PDR, H.E. Peter Wienand.
“Germany’s support is very significant for the MRC and its Member Countries as it addresses pressing issues facing the basin in the short term such as how to integrate sustainability considerations into hydropower development and the longer term on the consequences of climate change,” Mr. Jeremy Bird, CEO of the Mekong River Commission, said.
“The MRC is working towards greater financial autonomy and increased country ownership. Germany’s future support will help the MRC meet its organizational goals,” he continued.
At the moment, MRC’s work programme is primarily funded by international partners however; 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 plans 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.
“By supporting the MRC, we hope to assist with organisation’s effectiveness and efficiency regarding the implementation of its core functions, especially at the Member Country level,” Mr. Hady Riad, Counsellor to the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Phnom Penh, said. Germany’s support will be applied towards transboundary activities in the Lower Mekong
Germany’s support will be applied towards transboundary activities in the Lower Mekong Basin that aim to strengthen regional and national capacities in climate sensitive flood management and forecasting. Other transboundary issues that Germany has pledged its support include the preservation and conservation of the Mekong’s biodiversity.
“This is a unique opportunity to raise awareness and understanding of how climate change impacts will require us to adapt to flood forecasting procedures,” Dr. Son Lam Hung, Programme Coordinator of the MRC’s Flood Management and Mitigation Programme, said.
“With knowledge gained on the relationship between climate change and flood forecasting, we aim to reduce flood related damages. We also hope to better inform the region on the benefits associated with annual floods,” he continued.
The MRC and Germany hope to see a strengthened cooperation with National Flood Centres in Member Countries on climate change sensitive flood forecasting models. Germany also plans to support the MRC with increased collaborations with China on the modelling of climate change impacts to improve climate change adaptation strategies.
“Upstream collaboration, particularly with China, will improve our adaptation strategies and transboundary cooperation,” Dr. Vithet Srinetr, Programme Coordinator for the MRC’s Environment Programme, said.
Germany has been a major Development Partner of the MRC since 1997. Current support includes funding towards the Flood Management and Mitigation Programme and the Watershed Management Project. The Watershed Management Project commenced 10 years ago, and will conclude this May, 2011, culminating with the International Watershed Management Conference this March.
Discussions between the MRC and Germany on this Joint Declaration of Intent and Strategic Framework for Cooperation began in early 2010. After two series of interviews with key members of the MRC, the National Mekong Committees and line agencies, two workshops were held to develop the strategic framework of this agreement and the implementation arrangement through the MRC.
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 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.
Mr Surasak Glahan, Communication Officer
Tel: 090 670 3527 (Ho Chi Minh mobile number) or +856 20 555 28726 (Vientiane mobile number)
Ms Tiffany Hacker, Communication Officer (Office of the Secretariat in Vientiane)
Tel: +856 21 263 263 Ext. 4703 or +856 56120695