Wednesday , February 8 2023

Mekong countries launch initiatives to strengthen cooperation to protect river

The Mekong River Commission’s governing body has approved two major initiatives to improve regional efforts to monitor and protect the Mekong River.

Representatives of MRC member countries Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam approved a Multi-Year Work Plan (MWP) for 2023– 2024 at a meeting in Vietnam’s southern province of Ba Ria – Vung Tau last week to assist national agencies working to implement the MRC’s Strategic Plan (SP) 2021– 2025, MRC said in a statement Monday.

The SP spans five crucial areas for the Mekong River Basin to maintain its ecological function; enable inclusive access and use of its water and related resources; enhance the optimal, sustainable development of the water and related sectors; strengthen resilience against climate risks like floods and droughts; and strengthen cooperation among all MRC countries and stakeholders.

Tran Hong Ha, Vietnam’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment and the MRC Council Chairperson for 2022, said the MWP will kick-start the second important phase of the Strategic Plan.

He said it’s a key component of “concerted efforts and perseverance of member countries to work toward a sustainable and healthy Mekong River Basin.”

Within the MWP for 2022, 158 tasks were laid out – of which 123 had already been completed by October.

Also last week, the MRC council approved the re-designed Core River Monitoring Network (CRMN).

The CRMN was launched in 2018 and 2019 and identified various inefficiencies in how each of the four member countries was addressing challenges to the Mekong issues, including a lack of regional and national network integration, leading to redundancies and indirect use of most monitoring data, concerns over human and technical capabilities, reliability and capacity of systems, and the costs of updating equipment as a strain on national budgets, and ineffective alignment and integration among monitoring stations and their activities.

After an internal review of all such functions, the redesigned CRMN strives to not only ameliorate these issues, but addresses the spectrum of transboundary riverine-related challenges.

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