The Mekong River Commission (MRC) to continue to increase fulfilling the commitments of the Ho Chi Minh Declaration – the Joint Statement of the MRC Second Summit held in April 2014 is one of the main conclusions of the 21st Meeting of the MRC Council took place on 15-16 January 2015 in Hanoi.
The Meeting was chaired by H.E. Mr. Nguyen Minh Quang – Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of Viet Nam, Chairman of the Viet Nam National Mekong Committee, Member of the MRC Council for Viet Nam, and Chairman of the MRC Council for 2014/2015.
The Meeting gathered Delegations from Cambodia, Lao PDR and Thailand led by Ministers/Vice Ministers and Members of the MRC Council. There was also participation of about 20 delegation representing strategic partners of the MRC including the MRC dialogue partners of China and Myanmar, development partners and donors, international organizations and observers.
Members of the MRC Council, Members of the MRC Joint Committee and representative of the MRC Development Partners at the Meeting
The MRC Council Meeting is held annually. Objectives of this year Meeting were to assess the outcomes that the MRC achieved in 2014 and to discuss planned activities for the upcoming 2015. The 19th MRC Development Partners Consultative Group Meeting was also held as part of the 21st MRC Council Meeting.
Addressing at the Opening session of the Meeting, Minister Nguyen Minh Quang on the position as Chairman of the MRC Council for 2014/2015 clearly stated: Over the past years, the MRC and its member countries made every effort to achieve some key accomplishment in fulfilling the commitments of the Ho Chi Minh Declaration. The Integrated Water Resources Management based Basin Development Strategy (BDS) has been promoted for implementation at both national and regional levels, and updated for the next five years 2016-2020. Also in the past year, the MRC arrived at agreement to implement the Prior Consultation Process for Don Sahong Hydropower Project of Lao PDR on the Mekong River Mainstream. This is a good signal that shows the commitments of the MRC Member Countries in implementing the MRC Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement (PNPCA). In parallel with this process, the MRC has conducted the Council Study on Sustainable Management and Development of the Mekong River, including impacts of mainstream hydropower projects.
Despite having some encouraging results achieved last year, there are still challenges for the MRC in the future. Minister Nguyen Minh Quang stressed “the rapid economic development and increased use of water in the Basin have put great pressure on water and related resources of the Mekong River Basin, which requires the MRC to put much effort to implement synchronization of prioritized activities, especially promotes the Council Study on Sustainable Management and Development of the Mekong River, including impacts from mainstream hydropower projects, along with enhancing the implementation of MRC Procedures for Water Use, which covers the PNPCA for any water utilization proposed in the Mekong River Basin”.
In 2015, the MRC will continue to enhance its ownership through completing step by step the Roadmap for decentralization of the MRC core river basin management functions to the MRC Member Countries, prepare restructuring plan for the MRCS, and improve capabilities of the MRCS and member countries officers. These are necessary steps to achieve full self-financing of the MRC in the year 2030.
Concerning the proposed Don Sahong Hydropower Project of Lao PDR on the Mekong River Mainstream, stated at the Meeting, the MRC Member Countries, donor community and specialists of the Mekong River Commission Secretariat (MRCS) found the need to have more time for the Prior Consultation Process for the Project. The extension of the Prior Consultation Process will help add more information and data, conduct additional studies, select effective mitigation options and most importantly, extend consultation with communities in the Basin.
At the Meeting, the donors and development partners highly appreciated the achievements of the MRC under the leadership of the MRC Council and hope the MRC will operate more efficiently in the year 2015 as well as subsequent years, play well the role of an intergovernmental organization of the Mekong River Basin countries which cooperate for sustainable development of the Basin
The Minutes Signing Ceremony of the 21st MRC Council Meeting
“The year 2015 is a very important year as it is the last year of the MRC’s Strategic Plan for 2011-2015, and for finalizing the Strategic Plan for 2016-2020. With our high effort and determination and the spirit of Mekong Cooperation, I believe that core missions of the year 2015 will be undoubtedly well implemented and highly effective, contributing to the 20thAnniversary of signing the Agreement on the Cooperation for the Sustainable Development of the Mekong River Basin (the 1995 Mekong Agreement) and the establishment of the MRC” – emphasized Minister Nguyen Minh Quang in the closing remark of the Meeting.
It is expected that the 22nd Meeting of the MRC Council will be held in late 2015 in Cambodia.
Nguyen Hong Phuong