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MRC 'of great value' to regional development

MRC No. 18/08
Vientiane, Lao PDR
November 7, 2008

The role of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) in water resource development across the Lower Mekong Basin was reiterated at the opening of the 15th Meeting of the MRC Council in Vientiane today. Council Chair for 2008-2009, Mme Khempeng Pholsena, also a Minister and Head of the Lao Water Resources and Environment Administration, said the Commission is held in 'high esteem as a reliable partner in sustainable development and as a valuable mechanism for cooperation in the Basin'.

The MRC Council, composed of ministers from each of the four Member States of Cambodia, the Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam, is the highest level of the Commission and meets once a year to make policy decisions and give guidance to the various programmes run by the MRC to implement the 1995 Agreement on Cooperation for the Sustainable Development of the Mekong River Basin.

Mme Khempeng said the Mekong River is revered as the 'mother of waters'’ in Laos, as it nurtures and nourishes the rice fields and fish that form the background of the traditional economy and culture. She added that cooperative resource use and sustainable water resources management are vital to sustaining the economic growth of the economies of the Mekong countries, and that in these matters the MRC is of great value to its member states. "This organisation has an innate interest in balancing the use of the Mekong Basin's resources for the countries' mutual benefit and people's well-being with the need to preserve them for future generations to come" she said. "It also has the knowledge base and technical expertise to help us gain maximum benefits from these resources in the most sustainable manner".

For the first time the Council meeting held a session with the Donor Consultative Group, the countries and organisations that provide most of the MRC’s funding. Jeremy Bird, Chief Executive Officer of the MRC Secretariat, stressed that the perspective of these development partners on the activities of the MRC, and their views on matters of substance, is extremely important. Over the days of the meeting, the four countries and the development partners will discuss the permanent location of the MRC Secretariat, financial matters, and the progress of programmes such as the Basin Development Plan”.

The meeting is also discussing recent high-profile events to concern the MRC, including the Regional Multi-Stakeholder Consultation on the MRC Hydropower Programme, also held in Vientiane in September, and the floods that occurred along the Mekong in Laos and Thailand during August.

The Hydropower Consultation marked the first time the issue has been discussed in detail by the four countries in the presence of a broad range of stakeholders, including participants from China and Myanmar. Mme Khempeng praised the MRC’s for taking a leading role, saying it is important to have a body that can give impartial and expert advice on this issue and serve as an avenue for the Member States to jointly discuss and plan their developments. "Moreover", she continued, "it can deliver views and information based on its knowledge and expertise and using the tools and processes established under the 1995 Mekong Agreement. In this context it is the role of the MRC to help countries build the needed capacities and institutions to make informed decisions."


For more information please contact:

Wolfgang Schiefer, Chief, International Cooperation and Communication Section
MRC Secretariat,
Tel: (856) 21 263 263 Ext 4091.
Mobile: (856) 20 559 9139




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