Joint Development Partner Statement: MRC Informal Donor Meeting, 28 June 2013

Phnom Penh, Cambodia , 28th Jun 2013 - 28th Jun 2013

By: Australia, Belgium, Denmark, European Union, Finland, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, United States, World Bank.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

  1. Development Partners welcome the opportunity to engage in a dialogue with the Mekong River Commission (MRC) Secretariat and Member Countries at this year’s Informal Donor Meeting (IDM). We thank the MRC Secretariat (MRCS) for responding to the issues raised in the Joint Development Partner Statement at the last Council Meeting and IDM.
  2. Development Partners strongly support cooperation between Member Countries and all stakeholders. The expertise, resources, and perspective shared by partner organisations are essential assets to the MRC. Development partners are concerned that WWF and IUCN, Partner Organisations that have participated in Informal Donor Meetings as observers since 2002, have not been invited to this meeting. Development Partners welcome new rules of procedure that will enable the participation of civil society and urge MRC Members to invite all partner organisations to the 2013 Council Meeting and subsequent IDMs.

  3. Progress of the MRC Council Study
  4. In order to be able to contribute to unfolding developments, Development Partners support the Council Study’s prioritisation of hydropower impacts throughout the Mekong mainstream and tributary system. Aside from filling gaps on the impact of dams and identifying their trade-offs, it would also be useful and productive for the Study to recommend mechanisms to discuss and agree on benefit-sharing between MRC Member States in connection with new hydropower projects. As agreed with the Development Partners financing the Study, all Development Partners look forward to reviewing the terms of reference by July 2013.

  5. Prior Consultation Process and Hydropower Projects
  6. Development Partners see great value in strengthening the Procedures for Prior Notification, Consultation and Agreement (PNPCA). An effective PNPCA will result in improved coordination, streamlined development, and maximized benefits for the countries of the Mekong Basin. Development Partners would like an update on the status of the discussions under the Joint Platform for Procedures. We hope the Working Group will clarify the role of tributary projects with transboundary impacts, public consultation processes, timing of the notification of new projects, and the level of information required in new project notifications. Development Partners encourage the MRC to present the outcomes as soon as possible.
  7. Development Partners would appreciate additional information on design changes to the Xayaburi hydropower plant. As mentioned in January 2013, we reiterate our view that information sharing fulfils a central role of the MRC and ensures the legitimate concerns of Member States are taken into account. Development Partners also reiterate our willingness to participate in a technical meeting to discuss the details of the proposed design changes. In addition, we would like to ask the Government of Lao PDR to clarify the status of Pöyry.
  8. Given the expanded prospects for new project development, Development Partners reiterate the need for the application of the MRC Preliminary Design Guidance for dam development in the Lower Mekong Basin.
  9. Given the potentially detrimental regional effects of the Lower Sesan 2 dam in its current design (including on fish migration, sediment flow and the resettlement of local communities), Development Partners urge the Royal Government of Cambodia to reconsider the project’s design. We also encourage the Royal Government of Cambodia to voluntarily submit the project to Prior Consultation. Development Partners stand ready to support the Royal Government of Cambodia’s efforts to improve the performance and sustainability of this project.
  10. Development Partners would welcome actions by the Government of Lao PDR to share the Environmental Impact Assessment of the proposed Don Sahong dam.

  11. Regional Cooperation
  12. Development Partners are encouraged by the continued statements endorsing basin-wide cooperation by MRC Member Countries. The recent proposal by Vietnam to promote the UN Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses in the region is welcomed by Development Partners as an indication of further commitment to long-term cooperation.

  13. Financial Sustainability
  14. Development Partners recall the commitment by Member Countries in 2010 to fund fully the MRC by 2030. Development Partners welcome information on the status of the MRC’s planning for this transition period, particularly on new financing mechanisms.
  15. Development Partners appreciate the commitment of the Member Countries to reform and increase the efficiency of the MRC through the Core Function Decentralisation process. We would encourage the Member Countries to agree to the regional roadmap during the next Council Meeting and share the roadmap with Development Partners.

  16. Human Resources
  17. Development Partners welcome an update on the overhaul of the MRC’s Human Resources that applies competency-based principles to its system, as stated by the MRC at the last Council Meeting. Development Partners note that many key vacancies still exist within the MRCS and would appreciate an update on the staff recruitment process. Development Partners would also like to be informed about the status of the staff riparianisation process, including Chief Technical Adviser positions and skills transfer plans

  18. Programme Implementation
  19. Development Partners are keen to learn whether the issues preventing the Climate Change Adaptation Initiative (CCAI) Steering Committee from convening have been resolved. The CCAI will not be able to carry out activities in line with its 2013 workplan unless the Steering Committee meets in the very near future. Failure to resolve critical issues could compromise the effectiveness of the CCAI and the MRC.
  20. Development Partners are concerned about the tardiness of all programme reporting. Late reports make it difficult for Development Partners to prepare for meetings and have serious implications for MRC funding. Development Partners request the Secretariat to ensure timely reporting in future.
  21. To enable MRC programmes to provide first-rate advisory services to the Member Countries, regional and international expertise is regularly being procured by MRC programmes. Currently this is restricted to individual consultants. Development Partners would like to encourage the MRC to also let consultancy companies participate in bidding processes. Reasons for excluding consultants from bidding processes should be transparent.
  22. At the last Council Meeting, Development Partners recommended the MRC synchronise the many Steering Committee meetings at two events each year. Development Partners acknowledge the efforts made so far and are looking forward to a proposed schedule of Steering Committee meetings for 2013/14.

  23. Concluding Remarks
  24. Development Partners thank the MRC Secretariat for hosting this Informal Donor Meeting. We would also like to express our appreciation to the Secretariat for organising the first round of programme consultations for Development Partners this year. We look forward to participating in similar efforts in 2014. Development Partners also thank the Member Countries for their continued participation in the IDM. Development Partners highly value the opportunity to engage with Member Countries and the MRCS on issues of great importance to the region.