Mekong River Commission

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12th Meeting of the Development Partners Consultative Group
Mekong River Commission

Development Partners Group Statement

15 November 2007


Ladies and Gentlemen,

As you are aware, the Development Partners Group met yesterday and agreed to deliver a Joint Statement on what we think are key issues for the Mekong River Commission. In this respect, we built our Statement on two main pillars:

Pillar 1: Organisational Reform

The Development Partners Group appreciates that the Joint Committee has adopted a majority of the recommendations of the Organisational Review. The Review is an important contribution to greater effectiveness of and strengthened confidence in the MRC on the part of all stakeholders. Development partners also welcome the work of the Task Force on the MRC Organisational Structure. We note the development of the road map for a comprehensive reform program for the MRC Secretariat (MRCS) and National Mekong Committees (NMCs). In this context, Development Partners appreciate the opportunity for an ongoing dialogue through the Joint Contact Group and that documents on the different steps on implementation will be shared.

However, the agreed steps are only part of the challenge. Development Partners remain concerned that some of the key recommendations have not yet been addressed. In particular, Development Partners agree that the role and selection process for MRCS Directors (Recommendation 11+12) should be reconsidered for inclusion in the reform agenda.

While we are encouraged that the MRCS has mapped out reform steps, we believe that the pace of reform should be increased given the serious development challenges faced by the Mekong Basin. We feel that many of the recommendations could be implemented faster. We note that Development Partners have made available financial means for implementation of priority recommendations.

The issue of Member States increased financial contributions to the MRC core budget remains a priority to Development Partners who appreciate the Member States’ general commitment. Development Partners call upon the Member States to accelerate the processs of defining the core functions of MRC and increasing the members’ contributions. This would be a concrete demonstration of Member States’ strong ownership of this multilateral institution.

Pillar 2: Basin Development and the Role of MRC

The unmet organizational challenges outlined above manifest themselves in various ways. We are particularly concerned that the MRC must show leadership in the assessment of major development initiatives, including hydropower exploration.

We recognize the need for sustainable hydropower development as one means to meet the growing energy demands in the region. We ask the Member States to enable MRC to fulfil its role as a knowledge centre and intergovernmental body to ensure a coordinated, sustainable regional approach for basin development. The Development Partners Group calls on the MRC to fully utilize its capacities, tools and mandate to assess hydropower development plans, with a view to transboundary environmental, economic and social impacts in the spirit of the 1995 Agreement.

Development Partners are particularly concerned that public and private stakeholders are not being consulted, and that the cumulative impacts of dams on fisheries and food security are not being given adequate attention. In this regard, we request the MRC Council to provide information on how the procedures for notification, prior consultation and agreement are being applied.

In conclusion, the Development Partners declare their commitment to work towards harmonisation of their contributions to MRC with a long-term vision of providing budget support. A reformed and strengthened MRC - including a solid Monitoring & Evaluation system - is a prerequisite in this context.

This Statement was supported at the 12th Development Partner Consultative Group held on 15 November in Siem Reap, Cambodia by the following development partners:

Asian Development Bank, Australia, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden, European Commission, USA, World Bank


Response of MRC to the Development Partner Group Statement

15 November 2007, Siem Reap, Cambodia

22. The JC Chairman provided further clarification and outlined the process of development of the Hydropower Programme, and which an MRC Hydropower Strategy was already approved. The JC Chairman emphasised the need to keep the balance between development and environmental considerations. The JC Chairman informed about the MRC mission to Australia where climate change was discussed as an important work area for MRC. The JC Chairman informed about the discussions with China and of the possible cooperation on navigation and on hydrological modelling. The JC Chairman invited BDP to take into account impacts of climate change in Development Scenarios.

23. Regarding the challenges for the implementation of the Strategic Plan, the JC Chairman emphasised the need for effectiveness and coordination amongst the Member Countries and the requirement for donor harmonisation. The JC Chairman also emphasised the need for capacity building where immediate actions were important with a view to riparianization. Information sharing amongst all countries and all programmes were also identified as challenges to the implementation of the MRC Strategic Plan.

31. In response to the Development Partners Joint Statement, the JC Chairman provided clarification on the implementation of the recommendations of the organisational review. As regards the increase of financial contributions to the MRC core budget, the JC Chairman informed of the agreed yearly increase of Member States’ contributions which was fully implemented. He also outlined the governmental and administrative processes that would be required if the financial contributions were to be revised. As regards the recruitment process, the JC Chairman stressed the view that the involvement of the Member Countries was important for the Member Countries’ ownership. Regarding the MRC leadership in the assessment of major development initiatives, the JC Chairman outlined the principles set out in the Agreement on the Cooperation for the Sustainable Development of the Mekong River Basin (1995 Agreement) and its related procedures, in particular the notification procedure. As regards the comment on consultation of private and public stakeholders, the JC Chairman informed the Meeting of on-going consultation processes that took place at sub-basin level through the BDP. Similarly, watershed committees were being set up to allow for further consultation with basin stakeholders. The JC Chairman welcomed the commitment of Development Partners to donor harmonization and agreed on the need for an improved MRC monitoring system.



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