MRC members discuss future of the Basin

Vientiane, Lao PDR, 30th Aug 2005

The Mekong River Commission’s work in the Lower Mekong Basin was well advanced and the time had now come for the MRC to adopt a new Strategic Plan that would set its path for the next five years, H.E. Mr Sitaheng Rasphone, Chairman of the Mekong River Commission Joint Committee for 2005/2006 said in Vientiane yesterday.

Mr Sitaheng, who is also Vice Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, and Vice Chairman of the Lao National Mekong Committee, was speaking at the opening of the 22nd Joint Committee Meeting of the Mekong River Commission, in Vientiane. He took up the position of MRC Joint Committee Chairman this year.

He told the meeting that several of the MRC’s established programmes (such as the Basin Development Plan and the Water Utilisation Programme) were at key stages of operation and that the MRC had recently welcomed the implementation of a new Flood Management and Mitigation Programme and the introduction of a new Hydropower Programme. It was an appropriate time to discuss the future and strengthen the spirit of trust and cooperation between member countries.

Mr Sitaheng said the organisation’s finances were solid. Several new funding arrangements with donors had been signed this year and contributions from member countries had increased.

Dr Siripong Hungspreug, Deputy Permanent Secretary Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Alternate Member of the MRC Joint Committee for Thailand and Chairman of the MRC Joint Committee 2004/2005 summarised the main achievements of the past year noting that the organisation had made good progress in all its programme activities.

He said he was happy to report that the MRC was actively pursuing its commitment to the environment through its involvement in the Mekong Wetlands Biodiversity Programme implemented jointly with UNDP-IUCN and through the Environment Programme’s work with Water Quality Management.

“The MRC is also moving towards international standards in data collection and information management,” Dr Hungspreug said. “However, more active interaction and exchange of information between MRC and its partners is crucial for the MRC to be part of the development community and water resources network.”

The MRC Joint Committee consists of one member from each country at no less than Head of Department level. It is responsible for the implementation of the policies and decisions of the MRC Council and supervises the activities of the Mekong River Commission Secretariat.

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