The ASEAN Secretariat announced today that it will cooperate with the Mekong River Commission Secretariat (MRCS) in the development and management of the Mekong water resources as well as in addressing challenges common to the two organisaions.

The two intergovernmental bodies will assist Cambodia, Lao PDR and Viet Nam - all of which are members of both ASEAN and MRC - and Myanmar - MRC Dialogue Partner - in developing a basin-wide development plan to manage and develop Mekong water and related resources.

"ASEAN has been an important integrating force in the development of the entire region for forty years. Our relations with ASEAN have never been stronger," said Jeremy Bird, the Chief Executive Officer of MRC, at a signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding between the MRC and ASEAN secretariats in Hua Hin, Thailand, to mark the joint cooperation.

"There are true complementarities and unique synergy in this newly established partnership between the Secretariats of ASEAN and MRC. ASEAN is gaining a partner for piloting practical regional integration on the ground in the Lower Mekong Basin, and for the MRC, it is gaining closer access to a renowned regional political arena and can upscale and provide other ASEAN nations with its experience and its unique model for transboundary water development and management. Increased collaboration between the Secretariats of ASEAN and MRC will be mutually beneficial for the Mekong and beyond to the other nations of South East Asia" he added.

The MRC says that the new partnership will for instance help build the capacity of the executing agencies of Asian countries tomanage and mitigate flood risks, to provide better forecasts, as well as assisting the countries and their communities in mapping out resilience measures to adapt to changing climate.

"Southeast Asia has enjoyed strong economic growth, greater political stability as a whole and thriving regional cooperation," said Dr. Somsak Pipoppinyo, Director of Finance and Infrastructure Directorate of the ASEAN Secretariat, who represented Secretary-General of ASEAN Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, at the signing ceremony.

"Nevertheless, we wish to expand our collaboration by taking a comprehensive approach to making our regional growth balanced and efficient, which could not be achieved individually but collectively. Working in partnership with the MRC countries would add a new dimension to regional development that ASEAN thrives on," he said.


Notes to Editors

ASEAN, in 2009, adopted the Roadmap for an ASEAN Community (2009-2015), which, among others, provides strategic directions for promoting the sustainability of water resources for ASEAN peoples equitable and acceptable ccess to waters.

The MRC is the intergovernmental body responsible for cooperation on the sustainable management of the Mekong Basin whose membes include Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam. In dealing with these challenges, it looks across all sectors including sustaining fisheries, identifying opportunities for agriculture, maintaining the freedom of navigation, flood management and preserving important ecosystems. Superimposed on these are the future effects of more extreme floods, prolonged drought and sea level rise associated with climate change. In providing its advice, the MRC aims to facilitate a broad range of dialogue among governments, the private sector and civil society on these challenges.