Vientiane, Lao PDR, 2nd Apr 2014
2 April, 2014, Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam - The crucial role of water in food security and energy played centre-stage on the first day of the Mekong River Commission’s International Conference on Cooperation for Water, Energy, and Food Security in Transboundary Basins under Changing Climate.
International experts from the water management sector are gathering in Ho Chi Minh City for the two-day conference, a prelude to The MRC 2nd Summit of Ministers from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam.
The Conference will be a two-day platform for discussion of the benefits of transboundary cooperation in ensuring water, energy and food security while considering climate change.
“The MRC Summit and the International Conference are taking place at a critical time in history, and at a time when we may be able to influence some important global processes”, said Dr. Nguyen Thai Lai, Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, in his welcome remarks. He added that the transboundary dimension of achieving water, energy and food security is of crucial importance to Viet Nam, especially for food production in the Mekong Delta and the development of hydropower to satisfy fast growing energy needs.
According to the Global Water Partnership (GWP), issues related to water are becoming such an important part on the global development agenda that a dedicated Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) — Securing Sustainable Water for All—on water is being discussed at the United Nations and various other international and regional fora.
“Water is now recognised as a human right, it is essential for children, women and men, for economies, for ecosystems, for energy, agriculture and industry. Water is the medium that integrates our greatest human development challenges in health, food, energy, climate change and livelihoods. Water is a connector,” said Ursula Schaefer-Press, Chair of the GWP and one of the Conference’s keynote speakers.
She added that between 1990 and 2010, more than two billion people worldwide gained access to improved drinking water. The proportion of people using an improved water source rose from 76 per cent to 89 per cent in 2010. For Asia, 25 out of 51 countries actually slowed down their rates of progress on water access over the time period of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
One of the main topics of the first day was the need to develop and improve governance structures at all levels, nationally and internationally to engage in further transnational arrangements to manage water resources equitably.
As the world witnesses the impacts of climate change, population growth and industrialisation in the water global cycle, governments are more aware of the need for trans-national cooperation. Water security is a matter that requires more urgent attention by policy-makers, decision-makers and the private sector.
The International Conference, which ends on April 3rd, will precede The 2nd MRC Summit of Ministers from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam, as well as dialogue partners China and Myanmar.
Mr. Surasak Glahan, Communication Officer
Office of the Secretariat in Vientiane
Tel: +856 21 263 263 or +856 20 555 28726 (Vientiane mobile number)