Luang Prabang, Lao PDR , 22nd Feb 2017
Regional Stakeholder Forum On Council Study and Pak Beng Hydropower Project
22-23 February 2017, Luang Prabang, Lao PDR
Welcome speech by CEO of the MRC Secretariat
Excellency, Distinguished delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen
Good morning. It is my great pleasure and honor to welcome all participants to this Regional Stakeholder Forum.
It’s wonderful to see so many people interested in and attending this Stakeholder Forum. We expected to have a regional stakeholder forum with 100 participants and we are delighted to have 165 participants registered. We hope that you can bear with us if there are administrative and logistical issues as the venue can only accommodate a certain amount of people.
It’s also a great pleasure to see variety of our stakeholders joining this forum, representing MRC member countries, our development partners, NGOs colleagues and civil society representatives, as well as research academies, institutes, private sector and media.
This Regional Stakeholder Forum is an opportunity for different stakeholder groups to get together and discuss issues of common interest regarding the MRC work. This is a chance for dialogue, for you to have better understanding of our role and mandate, and for us to listen to your concerns and to note your messages, and to take actions if we can.
This two day forum will focus on two important activities on the MRC agenda, namely the Council study and the proposed Pak Beng Hydropower Project.
We would like to thank the government of Lao PDR for hosting this Regional Stakeholder Forum, so that we have opportunity to consult with other MRC Member Countries, interested stakeholders and the public on their views and concerns over the proposed Pak Beng Hydropower Project as well as to identify better engagement and more effective assessment approach for the Council study. The knowledge, information, data and assessment tools from the Study will also support the assessment work for the prior consultation process of the mainstream development project.
My special appreciation and sincere thanks to H.E. Minister of Natural Resources and Environment and the MRC Council Member of Lao PDR, Mr. Sommad Pholsena, who will officially open our Forum. We are honored by his presence and glad that he will be together with us listening to those views and concerns as well as recommendations.
Speaking of the MRC procedures and hydropower projects, the MRC Member Countries have agreed to the importance of public engagement. The MRC cares about voices and concerns of the stakeholder groups and interested parties for well-being of the people living in the Mekong Basin.
As a result, consultations and meetings will be held at regional and national levels as part of the prior consultation process.
We are trying our best to support the Mekong countries meeting the needs for country development but balancing interests and needs in ensuring the sustainable development and management of the Mekong basin that is also very crucial for the MRC to perform.
Excellency, Distinguished participants, Ladies and Gentlemen,
After this two-day meeting, I do hope that we will have gathered views, concerns and practical recommendations from different stakeholder groups. There will be another opportunity for us to be updated and to follow up on pending issues and concerns at the 2nd Regional Stakeholder consultation, which is scheduled in May this year.
At this meeting, through active participation, friendly but frank discussion, I do expect that we will respect each other’s opinion and viewpoints. It’s difficult to have absolute agreement on all issues, but we can make the greatest effort in trying to ensure that key concerns and important suggestions are documented and considered in the further implementation of the Council study and development of the proposed Pak Beng Hydropower Project.
The MRC is committed to stakeholder engagement as a continuous and step by step process. We want to share with you what we know and have. We want to listen to you. Better yet, we want to work with you in forming partnerships. We welcome comments and feedbacks, at any time, from all interested stakeholders through our active comment box on the MRC website, and we encourage you to come to the next forum.
I do believe that with our cooperation and the Mekong spirit, together, we can provide meaningful support to the MRC Joint Committee so that they can reach an agreement to achieve an optimum use and prevention of waste of water, and to issue a decision that contains agreed upon conditions for the project.
I look forward to our discussions and deliberations.