Opening Address by H.E Dr. Yim Chhay Ly - The 18th Meeting of the MRC Council, Joint Meeting with the MRC Donor Consultative Group

Siem Reap, Cambodia, 9th Dec 2011

H.E Dr. Yim Chhay Ly, Deputy Prime Minister, Chairman of Council for Agricultural and Rural Development

- Excellencies Members of the Mekong River Commission Council,
- Distinguished Representatives of MRC Development Partners,
- Distinguished Representatives of Dialogue Partners,
- Distinguished Observers from Financial Institutions, UN Systems and Regional Organizations,
- Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. As a high representative of Samdech Akka Moha Seina Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, it is indeed a great honour and privilege for me to be here today to preside over at the Opening of the Joint Eighteenth Council and Sixteenth Donor Consultative Group Meeting held in our Angkor Ancient Town of Siem Reap province of the Kingdom of Cambodia. On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and in the name of the host country, I would like to warmly welcome you all to this important gathering today and wish all Distinguished Delegates a pleasant stay in Siem Reap, the Town with the land of wonder of the Angkor Complex and the memorable culture and tradition of Cambodian people.

2. The Royal Government of Cambodia found indeed the usefulness and importance of today Meeting as those in the past where the MRC Member Countries and our Development Partners have opportunity to exchange experiences and views among each other in the interest of working together for the sustainable development of the Mekong River Basin. As you all are well aware that Mekong River Commission is an Inter-governmental institution with its key role to promote and coordinate the sustainable management and development of water and related resources for the mutual benefits of the Member Countries and the betterment of livelihood of the peoples through the implementation of strategic programmes and activities, the provision of scientific information and policy advices. In this spirit and as the MRC Member Country, the Royal Government of Cambodia has strived for developing the country with peace, political stability, security and social order associated with the continued enhancement of its people’s in-depth knowledge and culture in an attempt to contribute to the preservation of the Mekong’s resources through the sound balance between development and conservation. In a general view, we all found that the MRC cooperation framework is well progressive with acknowledged achievements in which all of us are proud of and all Member Countries commit in promoting socio-economic development and improving the sustainable water management while protecting the ecological balance of the Mekong River Basin.

3. In order for the progress and benefits of the peoples of the MRC Member Countries, we have to continue to join hands in the spirit of cooperation, friendship, solidarity and mutual trust to make further significant progress for the overall interest of sustainable development and effective management of the Mekong River Basin with an ultimate goal to enjoy with great benefit of both the present and future generations in the Mekong riparian countries. In the name of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I acknowledge that regional cooperation is critically essential for the effective transboundary river basin management and it needs for a continuity to be strategically strengthened. I would like to express my high appreciation for better progressive regional cooperation among the Member Countries and between MRC and other Mekong Partners.

Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

4. On the occasion of 15 years of MRC cooperation, First MRC Summit organized on 5 April 2010 in Hua Hin, Thailand with the participation of the Heads of the government of the MRC Member Countries. The Summit issued the Declaration highlighted the strategic framework and key priority areas of actions ahead for the MRC. The MRC Strategic Plan 2011-2015 designed to support the implementation of the Summit Declaration having outlined the details of activities for implementation ranging from the organizational, procedural to strategic attention which are currently operational. The implementation of the MRC Summit Declaration has been moving to the desirable directions with external support from the Development Partners. This is considered as precious contribution to the process. The Royal Government of Cambodia appreciates the progress with positive move made till now in this regard.

5. Even though the rapid developments having happened and continue to happen in the Mekong Basin and in each of the MRC Member Countries, those developments have been smoothly progressive basing on results of the studies on impacts with a view to avoid the serious threats on the Mekong River system and its resources. With an aim to preventing and mitigating the significant impacts stemming from the development activities in the Mekong River Basin both now and in the future, I would suggest for detailed studies on the possible impacts and most importantly the clear and realistic mitigation and management measures for action should be identified and implemented in a systematic way. 

6. We all know that climate change is an emerging concern among other challenges facing the Mekong region as well as the world. Climate Change can affect the water availability and hence the water-related economies. Also, it may increase the severity and frequency of floods and droughts and the flood risk occurred in this year as part of emerging climate change in the Mekong River Basin and in very serious situation for some of the MRC Member Countries. It caused damages to the people’s property, the physical infrastructure and the loss of human life. For instance, in Cambodia, 249 people and about USD 500 million in economic value was lost and Siem Reap Town, the venue of the Meeting today was also seriously affected. To this point, on behalf of the Royal Government and people of Cambodia, I would like to take this opportunity to share our profound condolences and sympathies for MRC affected Member Countries over the great loss of human life and property.

7. Based on this experience, the MRC Member Countries have to work together in a stronger fashion for responding to the emerging climate change in the Mekong Region and in contributing to the efforts of each of the Member Countries in ensuring the success of the climate change response in these countries. Hence, working together with better cooperation is critically important for responding to the climate change and this strategic spirit demands for a strengthened continuity. 

8. Another point is to get rid the Mekong peoples out of the poverty and to sustain the Mekong resources in a long run. I would like to express my profound thanks and appreciations to the development partners and other Mekong Partners for their kind support to MRC so far and their continuous commitments to further supporting MRC in the future. With this, it is critically essential considered as valued contribution for the MRC to continue to effectively fulfil its strategic mandate towards the sustainable development and management of water and related resources of the Mekong River Basin. 

9. To this point, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I would like to reiterate our continued strong commitment in working together with all Mekong riparian countries and other Mekong Partners for the strength in regional cooperation and he sustainable development of the Mekong River Basin as outlined in the 1995 Mekong Agreement. Today Meeting witnesses the closer cooperation and better partnership between the MRC Member Countries and the Development Partners. I wish this good tradition being firmly continued both now and in the future for strengthening the working relationship and cooperation for the sake of social progress and economic prosperity with environmentally sound Mekong River Basin.

10. In conclusion, on behalf of Royal Government of Cambodia, I wish the Meeting very fruitful and successful. I wish Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen good health and pleasant stay and a safe journey back home.

I would like now to declare the Joint Eighteenth Council and Sixteenth Donor Consultative Group Meeting open.

Thank you !