Vientiane, Lao PDR, 5 April 2024 – To commemorate the 29th Mekong Day, representatives of the Lower Mekong riparian countries, development partners, and other partners came together at the Mekong River Commission (MRC) Secretariat to witness several key initiatives aimed at preserving and enhancing the health of the Mekong Basin.

The highlight of today's celebrations is the third State of the Mekong Address, delivered by Dr. Anoulak Kittikhoun, the CEO of the MRC Secretariat. This address provided an overview of the current state of the Mekong River Basin, highlighting significant progress, remaining challenges, and current strategies for sustainable management and development.

“For 29 years, I can confidently say that our Mekong countries have cooperated far more than they do not, in areas that affect the Mekong,” Dr. Kittikhoun commented, “This year we will release our highly anticipated State of the Basin Report as well as the Mekong Atlas. Compared to 5 – 10 years ago, the Mekong has changed dramatically, for better and worse. Among better news, the Mekong region has continued to enjoy peace, which sadly it’s not the case everywhere in the world.”

The latest figure for the Mekong basin's annual economic output reached an impressive USD 63 billion, with key sectors such as hydropower, rice production, tourism, navigation, and aquaculture experiencing substantial expansion. Despite stress, the Mekong remains home to the largest inland wild fisheries globally, yielding between 1.5 – 1.7 million tons of fish and aquatic animals annually, valued at USD 8.4 billion.

Socially, progress has been evident with improved access to food, clean drinking water, basic sanitation, and electricity, leading to reduced rates of malnutrition and water-related diseases across all Mekong countries compared to a decade ago.

However, amidst these successes, the region faces pressing environmental challenges. The Mekong basin experienced erratic hydromet conditions in 2023, including drought followed by intense rainfall and flooding. The iconic Tonle Sap lake's reverse flow remained low and short, impacting fisheries and livelihoods

Furthermore, declining trends in basin-wide sediment balance, salinity intrusion, and plastic pollution persist, posing significant threats to the region's ecological health. Efforts to address these issues are ongoing, with some positive developments such as sediment monitoring showing stability in certain areas.

As the MRC continues its mission to sustainably develop and preserve the Mekong River Basin in the face of unprecedented development and climate change, cooperation is needed more than ever. The CEO highlighted critical works underway in proactively planning the basin to offer better joint investment and basin-wide projects; mitigating the transboundary impacts of current infrastructures; expanding monitoring, data sharing, forecasting and outreach to get information timely to the right stakeholders; and investing in improving lives of vulnerable peoples.

Building on solid foundations, CEO Anoulak Kittikhoun called for countries to cooperate by listening to and acting on each other’s requests in addressing transboundary issues, strengthen cooperation with upstream riparian China, build relations with the rest of ASEAN, and maintain partnership with friendly countries around the world.

In a significant development, the MRC is pleased to announce the continuation of the project "Transboundary Water Cooperation in the Lower Mekong Basin" in collaboration with the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany. With a total amount of 5 million euros (approx. USD 5.42 million), this project underscores the ongoing commitment of both parties to fostering transboundary cooperation and sustainable water management in the Mekong region. ““Through the Transboundary Water Cooperation Project (TWC), Germany will continue to cooperate with the Mekong River Commission on its pathway to provide services for an integrated water resources management, not only along the Mekong core river, but as a basin-wide approach. As part of the international donor community working with MRC, Germany recognizes the necessity to further strengthen these efforts to maintain a much-needed transboundary water resources management on commonly accepted rules and procedures. It is the only guarantee for a peaceful and sustainable future of the region.”” said Annette Knobloch, the German Ambassador to the Lao PDR.

Furthermore, the Canadian government has provided CDN $ 2 million (approx. USD 1.48 million) to the MRC for institutional support. This support contributes to the MRC’s resources to carry out essential core functions that are crucial for the sustainable management of the Mekong River Basin. “Water resource governance in the Mekong Basin is emerging as a critical economic and security issue in Southeast Asia, and an increasing priority area for Canadian engagement under our Indo-Pacific Strategy,” said Ping Kitnikone, the Canadian Ambassador to Lao PDR, Thailand, and Cambodia.


Note to Editors:

The MRC is an intergovernmental organization established to promote and coordinate sustainable management and development of water and related resources in the Mekong River Basin. Since its establishment in 1995, the MRC has played a crucial role in facilitating cooperation among the riparian countries to address shared challenges and opportunities in the basin. For more information, visit