Mekong Countries supported on emerging environmental issues and climate risks

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Vientiane, Lao PDR, 14th Dec 2010

Mekong countries recently received continued support to strengthen their work on environmental protection and adaptation to climate risks as the Royal Government of Denmark committed a grant of 10 million Danish Kroner (equivalent to approximately 1.9 million USD) to the MRCfs Environment Programme.

“This grant symbolises Denmark’s commitment to the sustainable development and protection of the environment and people’s livelihoods in the Lower Mekong Basin. Denmark’s support will contribute directly towards improved basin management and will ensure that up-to-date information on environmental and social knowledge is produced and disseminated throughout the Member Countries,” said Jeremy Bird, CEO of the MRC Secretariat.

As the MRC’s largest donor, Denmark has continuously supported the MRC’s Environment Programme since 2004. The funding will go towards assisting Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam - the four Member Countries of the Mekong River Commission (MRC), achieve greater environmental protection through improved basin management. Additionally, the grant will further develop the MRC knowledge base, which enhances regional understanding of environmental health and climate change risks in the Lower Mekong Basin.

“Most importantly, Denmark’s support leads to the Environment Programme’s continual transboundary capacity building and awareness raising activities. These activities stress the importance of the Mekong’s environment and how it provides ecological services which sustain Mekong people’s livelihoods,” Mr Bird added.

With Denmark’s support, the MRC has already set up long-term environmental monitoring activities surrounding water quality, ecological health and social impact assessments. Regional environmental management mechanisms and tools have also been developed to assist Member Countries on transboundary water issues. These achievements contributed to the development of the procedures and guidelines for the maintenance of good Mekong water quality.

The MRC says Denmark will support its Environment Programme’s work over the next five years, in the implementation of the mechanisms, tools and water quality procedures as well as assist its Member Countries in strengthening their proactive response to emerging environmental issues and climate risks.

“We anticipate that Denmark’s continued support will also contribute to improved capacity and ownership of Member Countries in implementing environmental monitoring and reporting activities over the next five years,” said Mr Vithet Srinetr, MRC’s Environment Programme Coordinator.

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Notes to Editors

The Environment Programme aims to assist the MRC Member Countries in protecting the environment and maintaining the ecological balance of the Mekong Basin. The Programme promotes environmental and social sustainability of economic development within the region.

The livelihood and prosperity of a growing population living in the Mekong River Basin depends on a healthy environment, which is why the Environment Programme is developing a river health management strategy to provide a framework for managing the Mekong River and a Mekong Environmental Report Card to inform the people of the basin about current environmental conditions.

The lower part of the Mekong River Basin has a population of approximately 60 million and the great majority of the inhabitants are farmers and fishers, depending directly on the natural resource base. The integrity of the basin’s ecology is thus vital to their social, cultural and economic well-being. Although the basin is relatively unpolluted, rapid economic development coupled with increasing population pressure is degrading the environment and the basin’s resources at an increasing rate. It is imperative to do something now to have a positive impact on the future. This is why the MRC’s Environment Programme aims to maintain the health of the river through a strategy of monitoring, management and education.

For more information see the MRC’s Environment Programme page.

For More Information

Mr. Damian Kean, Interim Communication Advisor
Tel: +856 56120695 or +856 21 263 263 Ext. 4703
Email: damian@mrcmekong.org

Mr Khy Lim, Communication Officer
Tel: +856 20 5622 8131
Email: khy@mrcmekong.org

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