Mekong and Murray-Darling River Basins renew partnership agreement to work together and share experiences

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Vientiane, Lao PDR, 13th May 2011

The Mekong River Commission (MRC) and Australia’s Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) today signed a new agreement to continue sharing experiences and technical knowledge in river basin planning and management.

The cooperation, covering a five-year period starting 2011, builds on two successful previous phases and a long-standing partnership between the two institutions.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the new phase of cooperation was signed between MRC and MDBA. Two institutions that will support and facilitate the effort, the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and the International Centre of Excellence in Water Resources Management (ICE WaRM) also co-signed the document.

“As our two river basins share noteworthy characteristics, this agreement signifies a continuing commitment to regional knowledge exchange and technical support in order to bring about improved river basin planning and management,” Officer in Charge of the MRC, Mr. Pich Dun said.

“This regional knowledge exchange between the two river basin authorities will shed valuable insight on issues that range from flood and drought mitigation to salinity management, public consultation processes to awareness campaigning,” He continued.

The Mekong River Basin’s most abundant resources are water and biodiversity, which have vast economic, environmental and cultural value - including the world’s largest inland capture fishery. The Murray-Darling Basin, covering 14% of the total land area of Australia, generates 39% of the national income derived from agricultural production. The two basins share a pressing need to ensure that their water and related resources are effectively managed.

The new MoU therefore provides the way forward for the basin authorities to renew the opportunities to share lessons learned and cooperate closely together. The MRC plans to draw on experiences in the Murray-Darling Basin to further explore options in groundwater management, water quality management and climate changes. 

The two organisations will harness their experiences, expertise and new insights to undertake collaborative activities including progressive capacity building at the national and local levels. They are committed to share knowledge in areas of drought and salinity management, basin planning and cross boundary negotiations, amongst others. 

“Australia is pleased to see this new agreement in place between MRC and MDBA. Both basins have a lot to learn from each other. We view this partnership as an important step in improving regional cooperation in equitably developing the water resources of the Mekong Region”, said the Australian Ambassador to Lao PDR, Ms. Lynda Worthaisong, at the MRC/MDBA MoU signing ceremony. 

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Note to Editor:

MRC is an inter-governmental, country-driven river basin organisation. Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam are MRC Members, with the People’s Republic of China and Myanmar contributing as Dialogue Partners. MRC’s mission is to promote and coordinate sustainable management and development of water and related resources for the countries' mutual benefit and the people's well-being. Its vision is to achieve an economically prosperous, socially just and environmentally sound Mekong River Basin. 

MDBA was set up as an Australian Government Authority, to plan for and manage the Murray Darling Basin, spread across five Australian States. It builds on the experience of its predecessor, the Murray Darling Basin Commission. The establishment of the MDBA means that, for the first time, a national government agency is now responsible for planning and implementing integrated management of the water resources of the Murray–Darling Basin. 

Australia’s support to MRC from 2007 onwards now total AUS $20 million. 

For more information, please contact:

Mr Surasak Glahan, Communication Officer
Office of the Secretariat in Vientiane
Tel: +856 263 263,
+856 20 555 28726 (Vientiane mobile number)
Email: Surasak@mrcmekong.org

Ms Tiffany Hacker, Communication Officer
Office of the Secretariat in Vientiane
Tel: +856 21 263 263 Ext. 4063
+856 205612 0695
Email: Tiffany@mrcmekong.org

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