MRC Report by
H.E. Mr Somphong Mongkhonvilay
Chairman of the MRC Council 2004-2005,
MRC Council Member for the Lao PDR, and
Chairman of the Lao National Mekong Committee
Mekong River Commission Secretariat
Vientiane, Lao PDR
27 August 2004
H.E. Mr Bounnhang Vorachith Prime Minister of Lao People’s
Ladies and Gentlemen
As Chairman of the MRC Council for 2004/2005 and MRC Council Member for Lao PDR, it is a great honour to be here today to participate in this historic moment in the MRC’s history, with the Official Inauguration Ceremony of the MRC Secretariat.
On behalf of the MRC and on my own behalf I would like to express sincere thanks to all of you for kindly attending this ceremony having travelled from your offices within the capital or from further afield.
Since the historic signing of the 1995 Agreement, the Mekong River Commission has implemented a programme approach to sustainable river basin management and is now recognized as a strong and visionary organization, both within the region and internationally. All four member countries are committed to long term cooperation to ensure the economic, social and cultural prosperity of the 60 million people currently living within the basin, and their future generations.
The vision for the Mekong River Basin is aimed at being an “economically prosperous, socially just and environmentally sound Mekong River Basin”. Our vision is to be “a world class financially secure, international river basin organization serving the Mekong countries to achieve the Basin vision”. In doing so MRC should “promote and coordinate sustainable management and development of water and related resources for the countries’ mutual benefit and the peoples’ well-being, by implementing strategic programmes and activities and providing scientific information and policy advice”.
Based on this commitment we remain focused on our strategic plan and programme approach to development.
MRC is implementing its four core programmes of Basin Planning, Environment, Flood Management and Mitigation, and Water Utilisation, and the sector programmes of Fisheries, Navigation, Water Resources Management and Agriculture, Irrigation and Forestry. The priorities they represent are at the heart of the most essential needs of the basin. These programmes ensure an interlinked and balanced approach to development, and a balanced approach with equal consideration for economic, social and cultural prosperity for the people.
The vision enshrined within the 1995 Agreement is grand indeed. But years of careful planning and the diligence of the MRC Secretariat and the Mekong countries has shown that the MRC vision can be achieved. It must take place through a consultative, carefully implemented process that relies on the data and knowledge generated within the region.
Our knowledge of the Mekong is now more substantial than ever before. Our basin planning process is grounded in a participatory approach that relies on the tools and knowledge produced in all programmes. We can now mitigate against the devastating floods of 2000 and 2001. We can support the protection of wetlands and expand and diversity the food base, opportunities for trade and transport, consideration of the potentials in hydropower, irrigation, agriculture and forestry.
We know that MRC’s priorities require careful management and considered decision-making. Success relies on excellent cooperation among all member countries, continued dialogue with our neighbours China and Myanmar and ongoing support from our many partners and donors.
In addition we must remain focused on continued development of the capacity of our river basin management specialists from within the region, and draw on the support of those selected from around the world to contribute the technical expertise we require.
Under the careful guidance of the MRC Council, MRC will continue to move forward in its implementation, and in doing so we rely heavily on the National Mekong Committees in four countries and the MRC Secretariat to both facilitate and provide the technical and administrative support required.
As Chairman of the MRC Council for 2004/2005, it is my pleasure to have this opportunity to publicly reinforce the vision of MRC and our commitment to meeting the strategic goals that it enshrines. Knowing the focal point for that work is now this building provided by the Government of Lao PDR and located here in Vientiane, right on the banks of the Mighty Mekong River, is a source of great pride.
This building stands testament to the strength of the 1995 Agreement and to the spirit of cooperation that exists between the Mekong countries. The construction of such a wonderful facility has been possible through the generous support of the Government of Lao PDR, and through valuable contributions from both Thailand and Viet Nam, and from the Governments of Japan and Korea.
This venue provides a purpose-built and high quality base from which to facilitate the work of the MRC. On a daily basis, the magnificent views from this building, are a reminder of the importance of long-term sustainable development for the people of the basin and for the protection of the Mekong River.
Whilst Vientiane is now the base for the MRC Secretariat, and the home for most of those who work for us, we are reminded that the work of MRC is regional in nature and relies upon the continued cooperation of all four member countries, its dialogue partners and supporting agencies and donors.
Finally I would like to express our special thanks to His Excellency, Mr Bounnhang Vorachith Prime Minister of the Lao PDR, for his kind and generous contribution of this beautiful Secretariat for the MRC and consideration and support of our continued work in the Mekong and also for advice tendered to us during the construction of this building that resulted in the smooth and timely relocation of the MRC Secretariat from Phnom Penh to Vientiane. At the same time the MRC is pleased to welcome the new Chief Executive Officer of the MRC, Dr Olivier Cogels.
Once again I would like to express my sincere thanks to all the participants in this very important ceremony and hope that your continued assistance and support will cover the wider areas of operations to be able to assist us to reach our vision.