Mekong River Commission Secretariat

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The Fifteenth Meeting of the MRC Council

Closing Statement by
H.E. Mme Khempheng Pholsena
Minister to the Prime Minister's Office
Head of the Water Resources and Environment Administration
Chair of the Lao National Mekong Committee

Vientiane, Lao PDR
6 November 2008

Excellency Mr Lim Kean Hor,
Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology of Cambodia
Chair of Cambodia National Mekong Committee,
Member of the MRC Council for Cambodia

Excellency Mrs Anongwan Thepsutin
Minister of Natural Resources and Environment
Chair of Thai National Mekong Committee
Member of the MRC Council for Thailand

Excellency Dr Pham Khoi Nguyen
Minister of Natural Resources and Environment
Chair of Viet Nam National Mekong Committee
Member of the MRC Council for Viet Nam

Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

With the adoption of the minutes of the Fifteenth Meeting of the MRC Council, we are now approaching the end of this important event. The meeting has been very successful indeed, thanks to the valuable contribution and the full cooperation of all delegations. The number of important decisions taken during this meeting is a sign of our continued close cooperation. I think we can also pronounce our decision to marry the two events of Council and Donor Consultative Group annual meetings a clear success.

It is most pleasing to hear it confirmed that the Secretariat is maintaining sound financial management and has planned a solid strategy for sustaining that funding over 2009 and the coming years. While we are happy to receive the continued support of our development partners in this, it is also gratifying to hear all four Member States commit themselves to continued efforts to increase the contribution of our countries to the operating expenses budget and to the overall ratio of MRC expenses. It is after all our organisation, designed to further our own development, and it is only right that we take greater financial responsibility as we are able to.
Likewise, the efforts of the Secretariat and each programme to move towards riparianisation of staff positions within the organisation are also appreciated. While some may feel that capacity is not yet high enough in all sectors to guarantee effective local management of MRC activities, it should be remembered that one of the key goals of the Commission is capacity building. Appointment of Cambodian, Thai, Vietnamese and Lao staff to work alongside experts from the other countries and technical advisors from elsewhere cam play an important role in transfer of skills essential for integrated water resource management.

Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It also pleasing to hear the MRC moving towards finalising such important issues as the permanent location and structure of the Secretariat, the communications strategy, public participation policy and a unified monitoring and evaluation system. Reaching agreement on these necessary internal matters is ambitious task, but is all the same necessary, and can, I think, be achieved with the help and cooperation of our member countries and the valued support of our development partners.

Even more necessary is progress in making the performance of each MRC programme relevant to current events and to the peoples of our countries. In this respect it is satisfying to hear of the self analysis that occurred during and immediately after the floods of August this year, and to be assured that measures are being taken to improve the MRC’s capability and reactions in such situations. We are measured by public perception and political expectation, and even if that seems harsh and sometimes inaccurate, we are duty bound to meet both to the best of our ability.

Our meeting has endorsed the bold strategy adopted by the Secretariat in moving the MRC to the centre of regional plans to develop our hydropower potential. There can be no doubt that broad knowledge, in depth analysis, and wise words of advice are needed to steer the countries to the best conclusion of this sensitive issue, and I am very happy that the MRC is making itself the best quipped organisation to take this mantle on.

Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The number of decisions taken today at this Fifteenth Meeting of the MRC Council demonstrates that the Mekong Spirit is alive and well in our organisation and we have proved that by working in cooperation we plan a path for the future prosperity of our common people.

In closing, let me express my sincere gratitude to all Council Members for their full cooperation and support, allowing us to reach this success. We must also give fulsome thanks to the Donor Consultative Group for joining our meeting and adding to the relevance of value of the event. The contribution of the Joint Committee has been invaluable, and my appreciation must go to the Chairman, Dr Saksit Tridech for his role in our deliberations.

We must equally recognise the efforts of the MRC Secretariat staff, especially the CEO Mr Jeremy Bird, for contribution to the preparations and conduct of this Meeting. I should also like to extend my sincere thanks, on behalf of MRC, to the Lao National Mekong Committee for hosting the meeting.

This evening I am pleased to invite you for dinner and hope that many of you can take this opportunity to further engage in informal discussion and enjoy one another’s company. For those of you who must leave us before dinner and before our field trip to the Nam Theun Two project site, may I wish you a safe journey home.

With this, I declare the Fifteenth meeting of the MRC Council closed.



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