Mekong River Commission Secretariat

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Second Regional Consultative Workshop on Integrated Capacity
Building Programme (ICBP) Implementation Plan

Opening Address by
Jeremy Bird, CEO, Mekong River Commission Secretariat

Vientiane, Lao PDR
14 September 2009

Excellencies, Delegates from MRC Member Countries, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to welcome you today as we discuss some of the finer points of the implementation plan for the Integrated Capacity Building Programme.

The concept of capacity building includes a broad range of approaches across the development spectrum.

All of the MRC’s programmes include some form of capacity building. However, while capacity building at the MRC targets a broad range of our stakeholders, much of the capacity building planned in the document we will discuss today is aimed in our own direction – and in the direction of our partners in the Member Countries.

This is the second regional consultation that we have had on this plan – the first being held in June. Good progress has been made since June in developing this ambitious strategy, which sets out to address the capacity needs of the MRC over the next four years. Comments and revisions have been received from Member Countries and the revised document incorporating these will form the basis of our discussions today.

The document was submitted to three development partners AusAID, the Government of Finland and NZAID and has received positive appraisal from all three development partners. AusAID has already signed an agreement with the MRC and currently, ICCS is in the process of preparing a joint agreement to be signed by NZAID and resigned by AusAID. This is the first joint agreement for funding by more than one donor to one MRC programme and is an important step for the MRC in the process of donor harmonization.

Over the last month, national consultation meetings have taken place with each of the NMC Secretariats and the line agencies to review and provide comments on the draft plan. This document represents a great deal of hard work – not just from ICBP – but also the country teams as well reflecting the importance placed on capacity building for IWRM and the development of river basin organizations.

The plan offers a complex new approach for the organization and sets out a bold new path for building capacity within the Secretariat, the National Mekong Committees and their Secretariats - and the respective national agencies that the MRC works with in order to accomplish its mission of achieving Integrated Water Resource management across the basin.

The plan focuses on three main thematic areas; IWRM, organizational development and gender responsive development.

We cannot be a truly sustainable organization without a strong focus on future capacity development. The pressure on this organization in coming years will be to become less dependent on the Development Partners and international staff. The path to riparianisation is the right path – but this cannot happen without a clear focus on capacity development, enabling and ensuring self sufficiency through stronger national and regional capacity to manage water resources.

Our development partners have made generous financial contributions to the ICBP but it is important to remember that there are a number of earmarked commitments which include the Junior Riparian Professional project, the development of the results based monitoring and evaluation system, continued activities to achieve gender responsive development and a focused initiative on leadership and management capacity development. In addition, high priority areas identified for the ICBP include support to the riparianisation process of the Secretariat and capacity building for the 2011-2015 Strategic Planning Process.

The target audience set out in the programme document is 550 actors involved in Mekong River Basin Management at the Mekong River Commission Secretariat, the four National Mekong Committee Secretariats and representatives from our partner line agencies in each country. It is critical for each country to prioritise the key representatives to participate in the capacity building processes implemented by the programmes as this is essential that ICBP be able to demonstrate results over the life of the programme.

As you are aware, MRC is in the process of developing a results based monitoring system and ICBP has been one of the five programmes involved in the development of this system. We are moving from an organization that used to report on activities undertaken and meetings held, to one where the orientation of our work is more closely targeted on outcomes. It is those outcomes that will be monitored and will perform the basis for determining to what extent the ICBP has been successful.

It is therefore very important, that the programme implementation plan and the annual workplans establish the necessary baselines on which improved performance can be measured and that workplans be implemented effectively to achieve the maximum results.

Let me also mention the formulation of the MRC’s next Strategic Plan for 2011 to 2015. This will set the strategic direction for MRC and will need to incorporate the core river basin management functions of the organization and will provide a roadmap for MRC. I envisage there will be gradual transition in which activities are undertaken directly by the appropriate line agencies, for example as currently done for water quality monitoring. To expand the activities implemented by the countries will inevitably require more capacity building. The link between the ICBP and the Strategic Plan implementation will become clearer over the next 12 months.

Finally before turning to the objectives of today's meeting, I also want to say a few words about integration. As with ASEAN, we recognize that the needs for capacity building in some Member Countries are greater than others and that this will need to be addressed when we consider the implementation of the Programme to ensure we effectively work towards bridging that gap.

Although we are fortunate to have strong support of our Development Partners, we have an obligation to ensure that are used efficiently and cost-effectively. Here, again we come back to the role of the results based approach.

Objective of the workshop
A draft implementation plan has been prepared for ICBP over the next eighteen months and the challenge for today's meeting is to identify and agree on amendments that are required to the text within the draft, agree on additional content that should be added and any areas that require further clarification.

Following on from today's meeting, the ICBP will make the required amendments in time for the first meeting of the ICBP Steering Committee on 22nd September, 2009.

In addition to completing the programme implementation plan, workplans will be completed for the Regional team and for each of the Member Countries to pave the way for a long awaited capacity building programme at MRC. The hard work is just now beginning – capacity development is critical to further develop a successful riparianised river basin organization for the Mekong Basin. As representatives of the National Mekong Committees, you have assumed the responsibility to identify and implement the appropriate capacity building processes to match the needs of your countries and to achieve the best results from the resources provided by our Development Partners. It is an exciting challenge.

With that I would like to wish you all a productive day here in defining in more detail our future capacity building programme.




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