Enhancing Collaboration for Lasting Growth of the Mekong River Basin

On April 4, a delegation from Vietnam departed from Hanoi to attend the fourth Mekong River Commission Summit, taking place the following day in Laos.

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At the meeting for the 4th MRC Summit (Photo: VNA
At one meeting for the 4th MRC Summit. Photo: Mekong River Commission/FB

Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Le Cong Thanh highlighted the need for the Mekong River Commission (MRC) to take practical measures in order to protect the legitimate rights and interests of individuals residing near the river’s water resources, during a ministers’ meeting in Vientiane on April 4, as reported by Vietnam News Agency.

The fourth MRC Summit was attended by representatives from the member countries of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam, as well as China and Myanmar’s dialogue partners, development partners, and regional and international organizations. The meeting served as a preparatory event in advance of the summit.

Thanh suggested that the commission should take proactive steps to enable individuals to effectively manage crises resulting from natural disasters and pandemics, and also ensure that water utilization, both in the main and tributaries of the Mekong River, is properly taken into consideration, so as not to affect its natural flow and progress towards a state of stability, safety, and security for communities along the river, regardless of their nationalities.

He also urged the commission to reform its operational methods, transforming itself into a regional centre of knowledge and providing stakeholders with timely access to information, data, and knowledge about the basin, as well as consultations and sub-regional cooperation mechanisms.

The Commission should construct a real-time data-sharing system for water facilities to enhance the quality of flood and drought forecasting and alert services, he continued.

At one meeting for the 4th MRC Summit. Photo: Mekong River Commission/FB
At one meeting for the 4th MRC Summit. Photo: Mekong River Commission/FB

The member countries unanimously agreed on the Vientiane Declaration, to be submitted to the MRC Summit on April 5. They highly praised the implementation of the Siem Reap Declaration adopted in 2018, which clearly identified the challenges, opportunities, orientations, and solutions needed to successfully materialise the 1995 Mekong agreement in the coming time.

They recommended that the commission revise the techniques of cross-border collaboration, information and data exchange, consultation, and observation of the Mekong River.

Ambassador Ke Yousheng, Permanent Representative of China to the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), underscored the collaboration between the commission and the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation in conducting joint research on the Mekong River’s flow and sharing hydrological information. He emphasized China’s dedication to continuing its partnership with the commission in the future. Ambassador Ke Yousheng, Permanent Representative of China to the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), highlighted cooperation between the commission and the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation in joint research on the Mekong River’s flow and sharing hydrological information, affirming China’s commitment to continuing its cooperation with the commission in the future.

The participating development partners have also committed to ongoing collaboration with the Commission in order to effectively reach all of its strategic objectives, allowing the Commission to carry out essential activities by the year 2030.

At the ministerial meeting for the 4th MRC Summit (Photo: VNA
At the ministerial meeting for the 4th MRC Summit. Photo: Mekong River Commission/FB

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and a high-ranking Government delegation of Vietnam arrived in Vientiane on April 4th evening to attend the fourth MRC Summit. His attendance is made at the invitation of Laotian Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone.

The Vietnamese Prime Minister’s entourage includes Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Minh Hoan, Deputy Minister of Public Securities Nguyen Duy Ngoc, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Do Hung Viet, and Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Le Cong Thanh, amongst other officials.

The summit, themed “Innovation and Cooperation for a Water Secure and Sustainable Mekong”, will be attended by the Prime Ministers of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) member countries – Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam – as well as representatives of the MRC’s dialogue partners – China and Myanmar, its 12 development partners, and international organisations both inside and outside the Mekong region.

The event aims at reaffirming the four member countries’ highest political commitment to strengthening the effective implementation of the 1995 Agreement on Cooperation for the Sustainable Development of the Mekong River Basin. Orientations for the development and management of the Mekong River Basin will be outlined and plans adopted for the implementation of the Basin Development Strategy for the Lower Mekong Basin 2021–2030.

Prime Minister Chinh’s attendance at the summit is a clear demonstration of Vietnam’s political commitment and role in the Mekong River Commission’s (MRC) activities. The nation has actively taken part in MRC’s initiatives at all levels and forums in a variety of areas.

Vietnam successfully hosted the second Mekong River Commission (MRC) Summit in Ho Chi Minh City in April 2014, providing guidance for the Commission’s cooperation activities. Furthermore, it has helped to strengthen the MRC’s cooperation with various dialogue and development partners, as well as countries in other river basins such as the Ganges, Danube, Nile, Amazon, and Mississippi, as stated by the Ambassador.

Hannah Nguyen