Mekong River Commission Secretariat

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Fourteenth Dialogue Meeting
Mekong River Commission

Opening Statement by
Mme. Monemany Nhoybouakong
Permanent Secretary
Water Resources & Environment Administration
Member of the MRC Joint Committee for the Lao PDR
Chairperson of the MRC Joint Committee for 2009/2010

Vientiane, Lao PDR
28 July2009

H.E. Mr. Sin Niny (TBC)
Vice-Chairman, Cambodia National Mekong Committee
Member of the MRC Joint Committee for Cambodia

Mr. Phonechaleun Nonthaxay
Alternate Member of the MRC Joint Committee for Lao PDR
Director-General, Lao National Mekong Committee

Dr. Saksit Tridech
Chairman of the MRC Joint Committee 2008-2009
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment
Vice-Chairman of Thai National Mekong Committee
Member of the MRC Joint Committee for Thailand

Dr. Le Duc Trung
Secretary General, Viet Nam National Mekong Committee
Member of the MRC Joint Committee for Viet Nam

Mr. Diao Mingsheng
Permanent Representative of China to UNESCAP
Head of Delegation of China

Mr. Ko Ko Oo
Director, Directorate of Water Resources & Improvement of River System
Head of Delegation of Myanmar

Mr. Jeremy Bird
Chief Executive Officer, MRC Secretariat

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen
Colleagues and friends

I am pleased to welcome all distinguished Members of the Joint Committee, Heads and Members of Delegations from the People’s Republic of China and the Union of Myanmar, and staff from the MRC Secretariat to this dialogue meeting in Vientiane, Lao PDR.

I thank the government of Lao PDR for hosting us here today in this hotel and I thank all participants – especially the delegates from our dialogue partners, China and Myanmar for participating in this meeting.

Since we met in August last year this year - much has happened within the organization.

  • The Commission has come some way to implementing the recommendations of the Organisational Review, made in January 2007. To date, 20 out of the 38 recommendations have been implemented in a wide range of areas – including capacity building, information management, financial management and the permanent location of the Secretariat.

    The process to make a final decision on the permanent location in particular took several steps forward this year. Several meetings were held throughout the year. The Council has a deadline of September this year to make a final choice. More information will be provided during the Joint Committee meeting to be held tomorrow.
  • The MRC is starting to take a more public role - as the potential for hydropower development across the region sparks some debate over the best way to utilize the river. People on both sides of the argument are becoming engaged with the issue. This is a healthy thing. I am also pleased to see that the MRC is taking a proactive approach to being involved in this dialogue. A Strategic Environmental Assessment of proposed mainstream hydropower projects – part of the Initiative on Sustainable Hydropower - was launched in recent months – and it includes such measures as a web-page on the MRC site calling for public submissions. This marks a considerable increase in stakeholder dialogue over the last year - coupled with increased levels of participation in community decision making across the basin within the BDP;
  • The MRC has also begun to up-scale efforts to try and better understand a range of issues that will impact on the basin – not the least of which being climate change;
  • As you can see if you walk down to the river – it is beginning to look full. The flood season – that can last until September here in Vientiane is upon us. Like last year - the MRC faces another test of its ability to predict floods and provide a service to Member Countries. It remains to be seen if the range of improvements in flood forecasting made after the lessons of last year will have the desired effect.

So as the organisation's role increases there is much to discuss – and I hope you will participate fully and help make today's dialogue lively and open - as there is much on the agenda.

I am delighted that we will be hearing an address from a representative of the Government of the Union of Myanmar. Myanmar is an important dialogue partner with the MRC – and I look forward move concrete steps to expand the relationship.

We will hear information from our other valuable dialogue partner – China – concerning Water Resources Development on the Lancang/Mekong, Hydropower Development and Environmental Management – as well as recent moves to improve navigation cooperation on the Lancang/Mekong. Cooperation with China has strengthened in recent years and this has in-turn made the MRC a stronger organization.

These presentations will lead later to a broader discussion about navigation issues and opportunities for cooperation in this area.

There are many cross-cutting trans-boundary issues in this area – such as hydropower – which I mentioned before – but also water quality, pollution – and perhaps most importantly – the potential for political solutions to open up the region to trade and improve our economies.

Lastly – we will discuss today the proposed MRC Summit of Prime Ministers – that will occur tentatively in April next year - on the 15th anniversary of the signing of the 1995 Mekong Agreement. The Summit will provide an excellent opportunity for the organization to increase cooperation with the GMS and ASEAN. It could also dynamically improve the relationship with you – our Dialogue Partners, China and Myanmar; reaffirm high level political commitment from Member Countries to the MRC; and reaffirm the provisions of the 1995 Mekong Agreement.

We need to discuss how we can use this Summit meeting as a political tool to further the agenda of the MRC and strengthen water resource management in the basin for the benefit of all those that depend on it.

So – without further hesitation, I would therefore like to invite all of you to begin discussions as we start the first agenda item today.

May this meeting be fruitful and successful - and I look forward to hearing your ideas.




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