Statement by H.E. Dr. Nguyen Thai Lai - The 18th Meeting of the MRC Council, Joint Meeting with the MRC Donor Consultative Group

Siem Reap, Cambodia, 09 Dec 2011

H.E. Dr. Nguyen Thai Lai, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of Viet Nam Vice Chairman of the Viet Nam National Mekong Committee Alternate Member of the MRC Council for Viet Nam

Excellency Mr. Lim Kean Hor
Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology of Cambodia
Chairperson of the Cambodia National Mekong Committee
Member of the MRC Council for Cambodia
Chairperson of the MRC Council for 2011/2012

Excellency Mr. Noulinh Sinbandhit
Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of Lao PDR
Chairperson of the Lao National Mekong Committee
Member of the MRC Council for Lao PDR

Excellency Mr. Preecha Rengsomboonsuk
Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of Thailand
Chairperson of the Thai National Mekong Committee
Member of the MRC Council for Thailand

Excellency Mr. Sin Niny
Vice Chairperson of the Cambodia National Mekong Committee
Alternate Member of the MRC Council for Cambodia
Head of Delegation for Cambodia

Excellencies,
Distinguished Delegates and Donor Representatives,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour and privilege for me to participate in the Eighteenth Meeting of the MRC Council and Sixteenth Meeting of the Donor Consultative Group held in this ancient and beautiful Siem Reap City of Cambodia. Taking this opportunity, I would like to express the sincerest congratulation to H.E. Mr. Lim Kean Hor, Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology of Cambodia, Chairperson of the Cambodia National Mekong Committee, Member of the MRC Council for Cambodia for having assumed the Chairmanship of the MRC Council for 2011/2012. At this Meeting, I would wish to assure you, Mr. Chairman, of our full support and highest level of cooperation in the year to come. It is my confidence that, under your chairmanship, the Mekong River Commission will score further fruitful results on its way toward the successful implementation of the 1995 Mekong Agreement.

I would also wish to join other Heads of Delegations to welcome all the distinguished representatives of the development partners and guests from international organizations to this Joint Meeting. Their presence at this annual consultative event, once again show their utmost dedication and deep concerns to our efforts to pursue the sustainable development in the Mekong River Basin. It would also be very encouraging that we are not alone on the endeavour to attain the basin and organization objectives.

Mr. Chairman,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Early this year, when we attended the Joint Session of the 17th Council Meeting in Ho Chi Minh, we have had mixed feelings about the progress reported at the meeting. Fresh from the historical success of the first MRC Summit in Hua Hin, the last Council Meeting scored a series of approvals from the highest level of the organization, for notably the Procedures for Water Quality, IWRM based Basin Development Strategy and Strategic Plan for 2011-2015.Looking back to such a short period since then to this Meeting, we are indeed encouraged by the sound progress made on preparation of the regional and national roadmaps to decentralize MRC core functions to the Member Countries, paving the way toward the self-financed status by 2030 as committed in Hua Hin Declaration. The preliminary progresses in relation to our efforts to translate aforementioned approvals into concrete actions would definitely set an excellent foundation for their accomplishments to the end.

Serious considerations from Member Countries made for the first proposed amongst a cascade of 11 mainstream hydropower projects helped reveal that though we have done our best for decades in monitoring, planning and analyzing, we still miss necessary data, information and knowledge about the basin baseline conditions as well as how it behaves upon the operation of the proposed dams and other changes. At this meeting, we have agreed to jointly conduct a study on sustainable management and development of the Mekong river including impacts by the mainstream hydropower projects. This is a clear demonstration of true spirit of Mekong cooperation and solidarity. With sincere and full cooperation of the MRC member countries and strong support from the donor community, I do believe that the Commission is now in the position ready to achieve new heights in this regard.

Mr. Chairman,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Being fully aware of challenges ahead, particularly relating to completely new tasks such as the Decentralization process; implementation of the IWRM-based Basin Development Strategy and approved MRC Procedures, we would have to double the current efforts to ensure that all targets and milestones set in the Hua Hin Declaration will be met. In order to facilitate that, more intensive contacts and consultations amongst Member Countries at all levels, with development partners and relevant communities need to be initiated for further deliberations of issues of great and mutual concerns. With this, to our delight, a midterm MRC Summit was agreed right at this Meeting to take place as the side event of the coming ASEAN Summit.

It is therefore my great pleasure to see in this room many representatives of the MRC donors and development partners, who have been long with us in days of difficulties. Allow me at this Meeting to join other MRC Council Members to record our sincerest appreciation and thank them for their generous and unfailing support and assistance extended so far to the Mekong River Commission. With strong determination and clear roadmap shown at this Meeting, it is our firm belief that the MRC development partners who have more closely involved in the MRC activities will further expand and intensify their excellent assistance and cooperation to the Commission in the coming years. I am sure other Member fellows would agree with me that invaluable assistance would be used efficiently and effectively for achieving the MRC objectives, particularly the successful implementation of the MRC Strategic Plan 2011-2015.

In concluding my statement, I would like to express my profound thanks to the Royal Government of Cambodia, and particularly to the Cambodia National Mekong Committee for the warm hospitality accorded to us and excellent arrangements for the Meeting. My thanks also go to the MRC Secretariat for its effective support to success of the Meeting.

Thank you for your attention