The 17th Meeting of the MRC Council, Signing of the Procedures on Water Quality

Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam, 26th Jan 2011

Statement by H.E. Mr. Lim Kean Hor, Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology, Chairman of Cambodia National Mekong Committee, Member of the MRC Council for Kingdom of Cambodia, Head of Delegation of Cambodia

Mr. Chairman

Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all I would like to recall back the MRC Council Resolution which was signed during the 6th Meeting of the MRC Council in October 1999 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Since the year 2000 under the Water Utilisation Programme (WUP) with the financial support from the World Bank/Global Environmental Facilities (GEF), there were 6 Technical Drafting Groups established by MRC involving country members and the MRC Secretariat in drafting those Procedures with the technical support from various national and international experts. They are the Procedures for Data Exchange and Sharing; the Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement, the Procedures for Water Use Monitoring; the Procedures for Maintenance of Flow on the Mainstream and the Procedures for Water Quality. Most of them had been approved and signed by the MRC Council during the period 2001-2006.

The pending Procedures for Water Quality which has been scheduled by the MRC Council Resolution to be finished by the end of 2005 is now resolved with the signing today. It is a great honor and privilege for me to attend as a Cambodian Signatory for the last but not least – the Procedures for Water Quality at this signing ceremony. The signing will mark the milestone fully achieved under the 1999 MRC Council Resolution.

It truly witnessed our strong commitment with a closer cooperation and partnership for the effective implementation of the 1995 Mekong Agreement, providing legal framework for regional cooperation among the member countries to ensure the sustainable development of the Mekong River Basin and more importantly our increased strength in regional cooperation, based on the living Mekong Spirit that the member countries continue consistently to adhere to.

The approved Procedures till now are truly important, serving as a strategic foundation contributing to ensure the effective implementation of the 1995 Mekong Agreement, laying out the sustainable development of the Mekong River Basin is the heart of our Commission strategic work to be focused mainly on and in particular for the implementation of the MRC Strategic Plan 2011-2015.

Sustainable development of basin water resources was highlighted as crucial to the economic and social well-being of the riparian population and to the poverty alleviation efforts of the Governments of the basin countries, especially under the accelerated development of water and related resources and the increasing challenges brought about by climate change. Though in general, the water quality of the Mekong River remains good, however, around certain densely populated areas and areas of intensive agriculture and aquaculture some deterioration is present. Industrial wastewater treatment is limited and the handling and disposal of industrial hazardous waste is insufficient. Industrial water pollution occurs mainly around factories and downstream of major urban areas. As both industrial sector and urban areas are expected to expand, this pollution will increase over the coming years unless regulatory frameworks are more effectively enforced. Water Quality Monitoring and taking measures to improve water quality in priority areas of the Basin is one among other 9 priority areas of action as set in the First MRC Summit - Hua Hin Declaration.

Though the Procedures will be signed today the Technical Body for Water Quality established by the MRC has been developing various Technical Guidelines on Water Quality, under the guidance of the MRC Joint Committee, in order to facilitate the effective implementation of the Procedures.

Even now all Procedures under 1999 MRC Council Resolution have been and to be signed by the member countries, some pending issues under some of the approved Procedures still remain so far such as definition of tributary, dry and wet seasons and so on. We would like to have all of these pending issues finalized as soon as possible so that the basis for effective implementation becomes fully realized within the MRC regional cooperation framework.

We have to work on details further to ensure the implementation of 1995 Mekong Agreement and the approved Procedures as well as other related legal documents for the sake of sustainable development of the Mekong River Basin. For Cambodia’s part, we stand ready with our strong commitment to work together with other member countries in that regard.

The effective implementation of all approved Procedures is the main task to be performed by the MRC Secretariat and the member countries. To arrive at this required end, the understanding and participation among and from parties concerned at all relevant levels, especially within the MRC member countries is the strategic element to be mainly focused on.

The public awareness-raising on related Procedures and Technical Guidelines is very important to be further promoted and it is a dire need for continuity at present and in the future. We noted with pleasure the progress made in relation with the public awareness raising in the past and the MRC Secretariat should further work with the member countries on this related issue in the future.

In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank to all concerned for their contributions in whatever forms that have led the 1999 MRC Council Resolution to the successful conclusion with approval of all set Procedures by this time. Through this, it further showed that the member countries are fully committed to work together in a spirit of cooperation to enhance the effective implementation of 1995 Mekong Agreement and all approved Procedures, in which the Procedures for Water Quality included.

With this, I wish to thank for your kind attention.