The 23rd MRC Council Meeting approves one Secretariat Office relocation plan
Pakse, Lao PDR, 24 November 2016 – The Secretariat Office of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) will be merged into one in Vientiane, Lao PDR, within the next two months, while the MRC Regional Flood Management and Mitigation Centre (RFMMC) will remain in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to continue to provide regional flood forecasting service, according to a detailed roadmap approved by the MRC Council at the 23rd Annual Meeting on 23rd - 24th November 2016 in Pakse, Champasak province.
The consolidation of two Secretariat Offices in Phnom Penh and Vientiane was decided by the Prime Ministers of the two current host countries, Cambodia and Lao PDR, back in July this year, and the Council, the MRC’s highest decision making body, approved the detailed plan on the office consolidation. Relocation process will start next month and will complete by the end of February next year.
The decision came during the annual meeting where the four Council Members discussed how to strengthen the implementation of the MRC Procedures, including the Prior Consultation process for mainstream development, cooperation with China and Myanmar, Development Partners and other regional initiatives. The Meeting also reviewed the progress of implementing the Basin Development Strategy for 2016-2020 and MRC Annual Work Plan 2016. The Council approved the MRC Annual Work Plan for 2017, with a fully funded budget of $15 million.
During the Joint Meeting with the Twenty-first Development Partners Consultative Groups, Session 2 of the Twenty-third Meeting of the MRC Council, the Council Members and Development Partners exchanged views on MRC reform, decentralization as well as prior consultation process and hydropower projects, and stakeholder outreach. The both sides acknowledged the importance of strengthening MRC regional cooperation for sustainable development of the Mekong basin in the context of complex regional development agenda. “I’m very pleased and optimistic that our concerted efforts and Mekong Spirit will certainly bring us more positive outcomes in our increased cooperation amongst the Member Countries as well as the cooperation with our Dialogue Partners, Development Partners and other stakeholders,” said H.E. Minister Sommad Pholsena, Chairperson of the MRC Council for 2016.
MRC Development Partners welcomed the decision and efforts of the MRC Member Countries to have a single office of the Secretariat in Vientiane. The development partners further committed to their continued support for the MRC to advance better management and more sustainable development of shared water resources in the region. The MRC has continued to receive new funding commitments from Development Partners for the implementation of the Strategic Plan 2016-2020.
Note to editors
The MRC was established on 5 April 1995 when Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam altogether signed the1995 Mekong Agreement. The MRC is the intergovernmental body responsible for cooperation on the sustainable management of the Mekong Basin whose members include Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam. It serves as a regional platform for water diplomacy as well as a knowledge hub of water resources management for the sustainable development of the region. It is not a supra-national or regulatory body. The commission 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.
The MRC consists of three permanent bodies: (i) the Council, (ii) the Joint Committee, and (iii) the Secretariat.
The MRC governance meetings are conducted with frequency of four different high level meetings every year. MRC Council Meeting is the highest governance meeting which is held once per year.Meanwhile the Joint Committee meeting will be organized twice per year to discuss matters for Council’s decision. In addition, an annual Informal Development Partner Meeting (IDM) in the mid-year is to review implementation and monitor MRC annual progress.