Outcomes from the 3rd Mekong River Commission Regional Summit and International Conference

The 3rd Mekong River Commission Summit and International Conference was held in Siem Reap, Cambodia, on 2-5 April 2018.

The event is held every four years, with this year’s theme ‘Enhancing joint efforts and partnerships towards achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in the Mekong River Basin’.

The Summit is managed by the Mekong River Commission (MRC), an intergovernmental organisation that works with the Governments of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam to manage the shared water and related resources of the Mekong River for the sustainable development of the Mekong region.

Prior to the event, MRC CEO Mr Pham Tuan Phan reiterated the importance of collaboration between the four Mekong countries, and the vital role the Summit plays in bringing Governments and various stakeholders together to plan and maintain momentum.

“Considering the growing pressures on the basin—population increases, infrastructure development, and climate impacts—it is of utmost importance that we use this event as an opportunity to define a clear set of priorities. We need to work together, across borders and sectors, to ensure equitable sharing of water resources and related benefits,” said Mr Pham.

AWP has been working on a number of projects in the Mekong Basin, including a Sustainable Hydropower Capacity Building Initiative, and providing water policy advice to the MRC’s Planning Division.

AWP supported several Australian Partners to attend, providing them with an opportunity to network with key Government stakeholders and other river basin practitioners from within the Mekong region and globally, and also to share their expertise.

Professor Rob Vertessy of Global Change Advisory presented on strategic investment in water information, highlighting innovations pioneered in Australia; while Norman Mueller of Geoscience Australia spoke about using satellite data for land and water management.

James Mason from Entura Hydro Tasmania gave a presentation on repositioning hydro operations and electricity supply in a dynamic energy sector.

Mason said his experience at the Summit was positive and that the Australian presence was well recognised.

“The special sessions were well facilitated and attended, and the presenters were of a high calibre, bringing valued lessons learnt from countries around the world,” said Mason.

“It was clear by the end that there was a lot that the MRC could learn from Australia through its challenges to increase renewable energy in the country whilst maintaining the balance of energy affordability, sustainability and system security.”

The Summit was hailed a success by the MRC, and a Siem Reap Declaration was adopted by member countries on the final day. The Declaration reaffirmed members’ commitment to the effective implementation of the 1995 Mekong Agreement and acknowledged the achievements made since the 2nd MRC Summit in 2014.

It also sets out priorities for the coming years, which include maintaining momentum in implementing water use procedures; executing basin-wide strategies and guidelines, strengthening basin-wide monitoring networks and forecasting systems for floods and droughts, and identifying and implementing opportunities for further cooperation with partners.

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