Vientiane, Lao PDR, 16 Jun 2008
Even as the long-running Water Utilisation Programme of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) was formally declared closed, the member countries and Secretariat of the MRC pledged to build further on its results in establishing integrated water resource management in the Lower Mekong Basin.
The Water Utilisation Programme, one of the core pillars of MRC work since 2000, enabled the four countries to draft and agree on procedures for dealing with information exchange, water use and quality monitoring, and flow maintenance for the Mekong River. It thereby laid the foundation for technical cooperation between the MRC member states of Cambodia, the Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam on the joint use of the Mekong waters. In addition, the programme created procedures for notification, consultation and agreement on projects affecting the river and its tributaries, and also established a ‘Decision Support Framework’ which enables the governments of the countries to make decisions informed by accurate scientific and socio-economic data.
Declaring the programme closed after a day of discussions on its successes, shortcomings and legacy, CEO of the Secretariat Jeremy Bird said that the true worth of its main achievements will become more obvious in the years to come, “as they are repeatedly used in managing the resources of the Mekong Basin in a peaceful, cooperative and sustainable manner”.
Bird told the assembled audience of government technicians and planners from the four countries, plus development partners and journalists, that the Water Utilisation Programme had some unfinished business, and that the MRC would continue to pursue its goals of integrated water resource management through new and existing projects, notably through the Basin Development Plan and the Information and Knowledge Management Programme.
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