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MRC countries adopt partnership declaration

Ven Rathavong / Khmer Times Share:
Leaders of the Mekong countries at the meeting in Siem Reap. Massayori Ishikavak

Mekong River Commission member countries yesterday adopted a declaration on the partnership of four lower-Mekong countries to protect water and natural resources, while China pledged to help Mekong countries with technical training on water management.

According to the declaration, all leaders recognised and addressed the major challenges of the Mekong River basin, including climate change, natural disasters, over-population, unsustainable industrialisation, intensive agriculture, irrigation, hydropower, and other development activities.

The four countries, including Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand, reaffirmed their highest political commitment to implement the Mekong agreement signed in 1995.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith adopted the declaration during the third MRC summit in Siem Reap city yesterday.

Delegations from dialogue and development partners, including China, Myanmar, the European Union, World Bank and Asian Development Bank, also attended the summit.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Mr Hun Sen said that the MRC member countries set priority action areas by focusing on enhancing and promoting cooperation for sustainable development in the Mekong River basin.

He said that all sides discussed the implementation of the Mekong Agreement of 1995 and the role of MRC in regional cooperation.

“Heads of governments from the four countries discussed and exchanged ideas over the challenges in the Mekong River basin,” he said. “And they committed to promote efficiency of implementation of the Mekong Agreement.”

The premier added that the leaders discussed opportunities and challenges, including rapid economic growth, populations, increasing water-food demand, energy, deforestation, development and climate change.

“All of these issues show the significance of needed joint solutions based on the Mekong spirit and good cooperation with relevant parties,” he said.

In January, the MRC launched two joint projects to better manage Mekong basin resources and address flood and drought issues, especially monitoring the environmental impact of the controversial Don Sahong hydropower dam.

The dam is located in Siphan Don, southern Laos, about 1,500 metres from the Cambodian border in Stung Treng province. The 30-metre high, seven-kilometre long dam will produce between 240 and 360 megawatts. Most of the power generated will be exported to Thailand and Cambodia.

China’s Water Resources Minister E Jingping said that China pledged to cooperate with MRC, and noted that given their rapid industrialisation, urbanisation, and agriculture modernisation, Mekong countries are all in pressing need of more water infrastructure and better water management.

Mr E added that with a wealth of experience in hydropower development and management, flood forecasting and management, China pledged to help Mekong countries on training.

“We stand ready to provide technical training to water professionals from the Mekong countries,” he said. “We also encourage Chinese companies to participate in water development in Mekong countries following the principles of sustainable development and win-win cooperation.”

The next MRC summit will take place in Laos in 2022.

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