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

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

Statements by H.E. Mr. Khempheng Pholsena, Minister to the Prime Minister's Office, Head of Water Resources and Environment Administration (WREA), Chairperson of Lao National Mekong Committee, Member of the MRC Council for Lao PDR

Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

Thank you all for supporting the future of the Mekong River by joining us here today.

The Lao PDR greatly appreciates that the Procedures for Water Quality has been finally agreed. Our signing here today demonstrates our Member Countries’ commitment to sustainable development of the Mekong River Basin.

May I have this opportunity to thank our fellow Member Countries and the Development Partners for the support we received while formulating the Procedures for Water Quality and its associated Technical Guidelines. This process shows the importance of working together and making unified decisions on how to move forward.

Lao PDR is the northernmost MRC Member Country and our water quality, as you know, is currently good. However we have to recognise that if we are not careful with our treatment of the Mekong River, without any notice, an environmental pollution emergency could occur in any point of the Mekong River Basin-therefore with the signing of the Procedures for Water Quality, we are ensured through our regional cooperation that we will work together and may ask for assistance from our neighbouring Member Countries in addressing a pollution emergency that reaches beyond our borders.

The Procedures for Water Quality is not just technical specifications and guidelines, but it is an opportunity to make a link between the people that rely on the river for their nutrition and livelihoods and the river’s water quality and ecological health. As we begin to implement the Procedures for Water Quality in the near future, I hope to see tangible benefits for the riverine communities and aquatic systems that this Procedure aims to protect.

Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

Whereas today marks a great achievement for our entire region, it’s the next steps that will make the greatest difference. As His Excellency, Mr. Lim Kean Hor brought to our attention the Procedures for Water Quality place an emphasis on regional capacity building. Capacity building will enable us at the national level to implement the Procedures and monitor our Mekong River’s health. And it will bind us together in our efforts of ensuring good water quality for the entire Mekong River.

Thank you.