Rapid Change in Mekong Basin Brings Both Opportunity and Risk

Danang, Viet Nam, 3rd Apr 2008

The opportunities and risks that come with economic growth were the main topics of discussion at the 27th Joint Committee Meeting of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) in Danang, Viet Nam, this week.

Viet Nam’s Vice Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, H.E. Dr Dao Xuan Hoc, described the current situation in the region as “a period of exciting development in Southeast Asia, with the countries of the Mekong River Basin experiencing strong economic growth”. The Vice Minister said that “with growth comes rapid change, which always carries some social and environmental risks”.

As defined in the 1995 Agreement on the Cooperation for the Sustainable Development of the Mekong River Basin, the MRC Joint Committee should “regularly obtain, update and exchange information and data necessary to implement the Agreement”. The 27th meeting of this Committee allowed the MRC Member States of Cambodia, the Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam to hold discussions on the issues central to development of the basin’s water resources.

Joint Committee Chairman Nguyen Hong Toan acknowledged that, given the amount of activity involving basin water resources either already underway or being discussed at high levels, “much attention is being paid to the role that the MRC will play as events proceed. This attention comes from environmental groups, civil society and non-governmental organisations, but also from the development partners that fund the MRC, from government agencies whose plans and projects will be affected by water developments, and from the general public”.

Mr Toan asserted that the MRC must play a key role in ensuring that plans for using the resources of the Mekong and its tributaries are coordinated and backed by proper scientific, socio-economic and environmental assessment.

The meeting, held April 2-3, marked the first public appearance and MRC engagement for Jeremy Bird, the new Chief Executive Officer of the organisation’s Secretariat. Mr Bird said that he looked forward to working with all parties involved in addressing the development challenges facing the basin, and to further strengthening the MRC’s role. On the administrative side, Mr Bird reported to the Committee that the financial situation of the MRC was sound and that the Member Countries had shown an increased sense of ownership over the past year. The meeting approved the MRC Annual Report for 2007, reached agreement on the next steps for improving the monitoring and evaluation procedures of MRC programmes, and decided that the MRC Secretariat will, within the next three months, examine the framework for hosting a forum of stakeholders interested in discussing major development issues in the basin, including hydropower.


For more information

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

Latest News

Media Release - Mekong leaders reaffirm the Mekong River Commission’s primary and unique role in sustainable development of the Mekong River Basin

As the 3rd Mekong River Commission (MRC) Summit came to a close today, the Siem Reap Declaration was adopted by the MRC member ...

China notified about discharge of Jinghong Reservoir 5 days in advance

MRC received a one-day advance ‘emergency notification’ from China – its dialogue partner – about its planned water discharge from the Jinghong Reservoir to the lower Mekong River tomorrow, aimed to ensure power grid security

Media Release - International conference recommends priorities for the lower Mekong countries to achieve sustainable development agenda

A two-day international conference convened by the Mekong River Commission (MRC) comes to a close today...

3rd MRC Summit sets out to strengthen joint efforts and partnerships for sustainable development in the Mekong River Basin

Next week, the Mekong River Commission (MRC) will convene the 3rd MRC Summit in Siem Reap, Cambodia. This capstone event will bring together the four Prime Ministers of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Viet Nam ...

Five riparians win MRC writing competition: What does the Mekong mean to you?

Today, five Mekong riparians were named as winners of a Mekong River Commission (MRC) writing competition, which had posed the question: What does the Mekong River mean to you?

Media Contact

For media inquires, please contact:
Sopheak Meas: sopheak@mrcmekong.org
Le Thi Huong Lien: huonglien@mrcmekong.org or
mrcmedia@mrcmekong.org or view the Contact page here