Statement by H.E. General Surasak Karnjanarat - 22nd Meeting of the MRC Council

Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 13 Jan 2016

Twenty-second Meeting of the MRC Council, Agenda D.1
Session2: Joint Meeting with the Twentieth Development Partner Consultative Group
Mekong River Commission
13th January 2016
Phnom Penh, CAMBODIA



General Surasak Karnjanarat
Minister of Natural Resources and Environment
Chairman of the Thai National Mekong Committee
Member of the MRC Council for Thailand

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to attend the Twenty-second meeting of the MRC Council today in Phnom Penh and I would like to thank Cambodia for the warm hospitality extended to me and my delegation. I would also like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation to Vietnam for their leadership in the past term and reaffirm Thailand’s support to Cambodia as the Council Chairman for 2015/2016.

Two decades have passed since the Mekong Agreement was signed in Chiang Rai. However, water remains as important as ever and it is at the core of sustainable development. It has become clear to us that water is a cross-cutting issue and therefore needs to be recognized as the nexus where various development objectives are linked. Accordingly, integrated water resources management is the key to the sustainable use and management of water in the Mekong River.

Although the MRC remains committed to improving the livelihoods of the people in the Mekong Basin, the situation has become more complex due to a number of challenges we are facing.

Firstly, as we are living in a more interconnected world, climate change, large-scale natural disaster and economic crises are challenges which the Lower Mekong Basin is facing. In recent years, severe impacts of drought have been experienced by all of us and it has been affecting our agricultural sector. Thailand alone has been suffering from the effects of prolonged drought since 2014. We must work closely to overcome these common challenges.

Secondly, many new development trends in the Mekong basin requires attention and responses; for example, the rapidly increasing development of hydropower projects. Thus, we need to work together in order to find the balance between economic development and safeguarding of the environment. In this regard, Thailand strongly believes that the Council Study would be instrumental in our cooperation. It would provide us with scientific information, including those on potential transboundary impacts, to assist us in making decisions that is best for all. We urge the MRC Secretariat to expedite its work, and we urge all Member Countries to join hands to work closely in order to bring the Council Study to success.

Thirdly, the MRC is undergoing a critical period of less external budget support, decentralization and a self-financed organization by 2030. Ownership is a key to success. The MRC Secretariat is being streamlined through a new organization structure with an emphasis on a core river basin management function to become more efficient and cost-effective instead of the previous program/project activities. Therefore, Member Countries also need to maintain the momentum of the Core River Management Functions Decentralization process.

Excellencies, Partners and Friends,

Water is a shared resource, and the allocation and management of water is crucial to many sectors of the economy and society.
Therefore, Thailand believes that it is important to engage various stakeholders in the management of the Mekong River to ensure that interests of all are taken into account.

We support the engagement with the People’s Republic of China and Myanmar who are our close neighbors and our dialogue partners. We hope that our existing partnerships, such as the exchange of hydrological information and the joint research on water resources management, can be further expanded.

We also value our partnerships with development partners and civil society. Their supports have been instrumental to the success of the MRC today.

Excellencies, Partners and Friends,

The year 2015 has been a year of vision. Aside from being the MRC’s 20th Anniversary, the ASEAN Community has come into effect. The ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change have been adopted. For MRC, we have successfully worked together to update the Basin Development Strategy which will be adopted during this meeting.

In 2016, we must translate these visions into action. It is now the time to build on our experiences for the past 20 years as well as adapting to the emerging challenges of today’s world. We should join together in implementing the MRC Strategic Plan on its new cycle of 2016-2020.

Excellencies, Partners and Friends,

Let’s get to work now. Thank you. ขอบคุณครับ