Cooperation in transboundary water management, food and energy security and climate change was discussed during the first day of the Asia-Europe Meeting in Siem Reap today.
The Kingdom is hosting the 8th ASEM until today. The theme is sustainable development and about 100 government officials, experts, researchers and local and international NGOs are participating.
According to the ASEM website, the meeting is an intergovernmental process aimed to foster dialogue and cooperation between Asia and Europe. It currently comprises of 30 European and 21 Asian countries, the European Union and the Asean Secretariat.
It said the meeting addresses political, economic, social, cultural, and educational issues of common interest.
Lim Kean Hor, Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology and chairman of the National Mekong Committee said that every country in the world needs to work together to address water challenges faced around the globe.
Mr Kean Hor said partnership and cooperation have become essential in addressing challenges posed by climate change.
“Due to emerging climate change and increasing needs for development, while protecting the people’s well-being and the environment, water availability has become a major challenge, demanding immediate attention and action,” he said. “They need [to be addressed] to ensure that water resources are managed, conserved and used effectively and sustainably.”
“On behalf of the government, I would like to emphasise our firm commitment in supporting and promoting regional and international cooperation and partnership for sustainable water management and development,” he said.
An Pich Hatda, chief executive officer of the Mekong River Commission Secretariat, said Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos are rapidly growing due to many economic opportunities presented by the river.
Mr Pich Hatda said proper coordination between countries in the region and beyond is needed to avoid or mitigate risks and maximise opportunities.
He said the risks include natural disasters, deteriorating water quality and the decline of ecosystems.
“The development of the shared watercourse must be judicious, fair, reasonable and equitable,” he said. “It must benefit everyone sharing the river.”
Mr Pich Hatda noted economic growth and poverty eradication will be limited without coordinated development and effective river management.
Franck Viault, head of a delegation from the EU to the Kingdom, said the EU is fully committed to promoting integrated water resources management and effective water governance for long-term stability.
“This requires appropriate institutions, reliable data, capacity building, awareness-raising and funding,” Mr Viault said. “It should foster sustainable water management as well as the consideration of interlinkages with, for instance, energy, food security and ecosystems.”
Zoltan Gyorgy Horvath, Charges d’affaires of the Hungarian Embassy, said water security is key to peace and sustainable development.
Mr Horvath noted that Hungary is committed to sustainable water management.
“Hungry is highly devoted to the achievement of the sustainable development goals and believes that the fulfillment of agenda 2030 requires an integrated and comprehensive approach,” he said.
He added that sharing experience and best practices between macro-regional development strategies can provide additional benefits for other sub-regional initiatives by strengthening interregional cooperation capacities.