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  Home   MRC News Speeches Opening Address by Dr. Oliver Cogels

International Conference on
“Advances in Integrated Mekong River Management”

Opening Address by
Dr. Oliver Cogels
Chief Executive Officer
Mekong River Commission

Lao Plaza hotel,
Vientiane Lao PDR,
25 October 2004


H.E. Mr. Katsura, Ambassador of Japan in the Lao PDR

Professor Takeuchi, President of International Association of Hydrological Sciences, Chairman of the conference, Leader of the Revolutionary Research 2002 Project

Professor Mushiake, Secretary General of the Association of Asia Pacific Hydrology and Water Resources

Distinguished delegates, professors and researchers
Ladies and Gentlemen

On behalf of the Mekong River Commission it is my pleasure to speak at the opening of this international conference on “Advances in Integrated Mekong River Management”, here in Vientiane Lao PDR.

I would like to express my appreciation to the Japanese Government for their support of this conference and the Revolutionary Research 2002 (RR2002) project focusing on the Mekong River Basin.

This conference highlights MRC’s interest in seeing continued dynamic scientific activity and research taking place in the world on the subject of the Mekong Basin. Such research provides valuable knowledge which can be used to support future sustainable development in the region. It will enhance the knowledge of our member countries and their decision makers and allow for appropriate development strategies.

Today, I am very happy to see that many scientists and researchers in the world are focusing their research activity on the Mekong with a philosophy and practice guided by the principles of Integrated Water Resources Management.

Although MRC is not a research organization, it is a coordinator of research under the Challenge Programme on Water and Food in the Mekong benchmark basin and maintains a number of partnerships that support involvement in research activities in the region.

Many of our programmes are involved in the collection and collation of basin relevant data. We collaborate with research programmes so as to influence the types of research being carried out and to work as a key client or recipient of the data once it has been collected. We therefore foster research that recognizes the importance of an integrated or holistic approach, which draws on expertise and knowledge from a broad range of sectors and allows us to actively fill any knowledge gaps that may still exist.

MRC’s role is thus one of facilitating the capacity of our member countries and their institutions to undertake or take part in Mekong research.

We are particularly keen to raise awareness of the value of research in the Mekong development dialogue. Already, our role has encouraged a regional and cross-disciplinary approach to research and has ensured that research outcomes are discussed by development professionals and contribute specifically to the growing, permanent body of scientific knowledge within the region.

MRC’s coordination and facilitation role, along with the research contributions of specific agencies and countries, has the potential to build a strong body of active, relevant and valuable integrated research activity in the region. The inputs of RR2002 are therefore very much welcome.

The knowledge base within this region can only continue to grow and gain strength as a result.

MRC is a custodian of that knowledge base, a facilitator of balanced development and a clearing house for the distribution of knowledge, data and research findings amongst its member countries. The 1995 Agreement, signed by our 4 member countries, clearly clarifies the critical role MRC plays in the region in this regard, assisting our countries to make informed decisions and choices for the benefit of the basin and its people. The MRC Secretariat, as the administrative and technical arm of the Commission, will continue to do what we can to both ensure the quality and value of the research and its outcomes, and to ensure the knowledge generated is used as widely as possible.

The Memorandum of Understanding with the RR2002 project was signed in March 2003 in Kyoto, as part of MRC’s activities associated with the 3rd World Water Forum. We signed this MOU with the knowledge that broad regional development on the scale of the Mekong basin is possible only through forging long-term partnerships. This MOU provides MRC with an opportunity to maintain strong links with Japanese expertise. It also allows us to emphasise the importance of an integrated approach to river basin management making it possible for us to achieve our organizational goals.

There is a lot of discussion surrounding water-related issues in the lower Mekong River Basin. And it is widely known that the sustainable development of the Mekong is critical to the long term economic growth of this region.

This conference is an excellent opportunity to inform the development process, increase participation in quality scientific research activity, and to contribute to capacity development.

The conference themes of hydrologic modeling, water use, flood management and knowledge management are central to integrated development of the basin. This conference therefore, also provides a forum for the exchange of opinions among distinguished high-level researchers and riparian countries, which focus on the priority needs of the Mekong River Basin and reinforces the importance of any development activity taking place in an integrated manner.

I wish you full success in discussing all of these issues over the coming days and hope that the results of future research activity will foster the social and economic development so greatly needed by those living within the basin.

Thank you very much.





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