The Agreement on Cooperation for the Sustainable Development of the Mekong River Basin was signed in 1995 among the four member countries of the Mekong River Commission to confirm the priority for “joint and/or basin-wide development projects and basin-wide programs through the formulation of a basin development plan, that would be used to identify, categorize and prioritize the projects and programs and projects to seek assistance for and to implement at the basin level”. The Basin Development Plan (BDP) Program has been implemented since year 2001 in the support for this important task stipulated by the Agreement
The BDP program has been gone through two periods up to now: period one from 2001 to 2006 and period two from 2006 to 2010. The first period concentrated on:
- Establishment of the participatory process of and mechanism for basin development planning;
- Upgrade of knowledge base and analysis tools for water resources development planning;
- Creation of a portfolio of priority programs and projects to be implemented by Member States themselves and under or in conjunction with existing MRC programs;
- Analysis of the BDP sub areas (10 sub areas), including status quo and water resources development and utilization plan, of which Vietnam has two sub areas (7V –Central Highlands and 10V – Mekong River Delta).
The second period of BDP started in January 2007 to use and improve planning process for the BDP based on Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) principles as mentioned in the 1995 Agreement, contributing to the completion of the targets of Strategic Plan 2006 – 2010 of the Commission. Main results of this period include:
- Basin Development Scenarios created and assessed based on information of the status quo as well as water resources using plan of the basin nations in the future.
- Sub area report updated and supplemented with the advantage potentials of the sub regions and challenges in IWRM. Plan of water resources use and development until 2020 was also updated.
- IWRM based Basin Development strategy formulated and approved by the MRC Council in January 2011 following the direct of the Prime Ministers at the 1st Summit of the Mekong River Commission in April 2010 at Hua Hin, Thailand. The strategy is a very important milestone in the cooperation history of the Commission toward sustainable development and management of the Mekong River Basin.
The program’s third period is from 2011 – 2015, during which it has main targets as following: (1) Member states succeed in their Basin Development Strategy based on IWRM and (2) Knowledge and capacity improvement for a comprehensive and more integrated approach in the planning and management of the basin as well as in updating the Strategy.
Four main outcomes of the third period will be:
- Improvement of the planning process of basin development and updating IWRM- based basin development strategy;
- Updating the socio-economic assessment to support the basin development planning and implementation following MRC’s procedure;
- Establishment of a suitable institutional arrangement at the Member States for the implementation of the Strategy;
- Capacity enhancement to implement the Strategy.
The BDP program, in its 10 years of implementation, has had significant supports to Member States, especially in:
- Capacity building in basin development planning in all aspects such as social, economic, environmental…, using support tools to assess the impacts of different basin development scenarios;
- Enhancing the awareness of integrating basin perspectives in development planning into the national and regional levels;
- Creating opportunities to exchange information and experience as well as knowledge in technologies, laws and policies for officers in concerned industries, especially in the Mekong River Delta and the Central Highlands.
Some main sponsors for the third period of the program are DANIDA (Denmark), SIDA (Sweden) and several others.