Swedish Government gives US$6.4 million support for environment, fisheries and planning in Mekong River Basin

Hanoi, Viet Nam, 24th Apr 2007

The Swedish Government today signed a US$ 6.4 million (45 million Swedish Kronor) agreement over the three-year period 2007-2009 to support the work of the Mekong River Commission (MRC).

The agreement was signed in Hanoi, Viet Nam by H.E. Mrs Gunilla Carlsson, Minister for International Development Cooperation, on behalf of the Government of Sweden and Dr Olivier Cogels, Chief Executive Officer of the Mekong River Commission Secretariat.

Sweden has supported the MRC for many years, focusing in particular on the Environment Programme, the Basin Development Plan, the Fisheries Programme and on Institutional Support. The renewed support will continue to be used on these four areas.

Minister Carlsson stated that Sweden gives high priority to supporting joint management and development of transboundary water resources. Joint management of shared water resources is often a key to development and a vehicle to promote peace, stability and regional economic development. In addition to supporting the joint management of the Mekong River Basin, Sweden supports several regional water resource management programmes in Africa. In all these programmes Sweden promotes alignment and harmonisation among donors in line with the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.

The support to the MRC is in line with the Swedish Government’s overarching policies for poverty alleviation and sustainable development. The Swedish support will contribute to an environmentally sustainable use and equitable sharing of benefits from the natural resources related to the Mekong River.

The Swedish Minister also highlighted the critical role the MRC has to play in Southeast Asia.

Dr Cogels thanked the Swedish Government for its continued and generous support of the MRC’s work and said the new funding would be of great assistance in helping the MRC achieve the goals set out in its 2006-2010 Strategic Plan.

“We have set ourselves an ambitious five-year plan, with the overall goal of promoting sustainable development within the basin to alleviate poverty,” he said. “This will involve many planning, environmental and transboundary issues and the Swedish support will be focused on helping us address these and well as building capacity and knowledge in the basin.”

Within the Environment Programme the new funding will be focused on stimulating better dissemination of information, continued work on transboundary hot spot issues and close engagement with other MRC programmes to assist with incorporation of environmental concerns. Monitoring and assessment activities will be continued, but with an increased focus on how to make them sustainable in the medium term. Conflict management and mitigation capacity will be developed within the MRC, National Mekong Committees and Line Agencies and a comprehensive environmental flows assessment capacity will be established for the Mekong River Basin.

The Swedish support to the Basin Development Plan will contribute to the overall implementation of the management and development of the water resources of the Mekong basin in an integrated, sustainable and equitable manner for the mutual benefit of the riparian States. The funding will be used to help develop a rolling basin plan and to identify projects for development as well as to improve the MRC knowledge base and assessment tools and to build capacity.

Within the Fisheries Programme the support will be used to fund an economic valuation of fisheries in the Lower Mekong Basin and to provide support to the Technical Advisory Body for Fisheries Management, a regional fisheries management body.

The Institutional Support element will be used to fund certain key positions within the MRC Secretariat.

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