The Mekong River Commission and Murray-Darling Basin Authority of Australia on Wednesday signed an MoU to reactivate a partnership on technical collaboration which had been in limbo over the past few years due to institutional reforms.
An MRC press release yesterday said the agreement was signed between An Pich Hatda, its secretariat’s chief executive officer, and MDBA chief executive Phillip Glyde in Canberra.
The statement said the renewed MoU will see both parties collaborate on water planning, environmental monitoring and evaluation, drought and flood management, groundwater planning and management, climate change and uncertainty planning, and public and stakeholder engagement in the Mekong basin.
It noted that technical cooperation between the two basins dated back to 1996, a year after the MRC was established, with Australia being a strong supporter and funder in the partnership.
“But the cooperation has been silent in recent years due to institutional reforms,” the statement said. “Indeed, the new MoU is based on the existing one, extending the same spirit of cooperation.”
It said that during the MoU signing ceremony, Mr Pich Hatda noted that increasing extreme weather, climate change and difficult trade-offs between development and various water-related sectors are some of the challenges facing the Mekong basin.
“We believe this MOU will not only further strengthen our collaboration but also contribute to addressing some of the current and future challenges the Mekong basin is facing,” he said.
The statement said that Mr Glyde said that he expects the technical collaboration between the MRC and MDBA to focus in greater detail on areas that are very critical to the Mekong basin.
“We hope to bring our expertise to the Mekong to ensure the MRC can play its key roles as the regional knowledge hub and water diplomacy platform,” he said.
The MoU signing took place on the sidelines of the First Mekong-Australia Energy Policy Dialogue, involving senior energy officials from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar and Australia’s leading renewable energy policy-makers and academics, being held from Sunday till today.
The dialogue aims to provide the visiting Mekong officials with an overview of the breadth of experience and innovation that Australia has to offer in the context of renewable energy and water management.