The Greater Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy was held in Yangon, Myanmar, on 4-6 December.
The theme of this year’s Forum was ‘Economic Development and the Rivers of the Greater Mekong’, focusing on ways in which economic, environmental and social challenges surrounding the rivers of the Mekong can be addressed through tried-and-tested solutions, new knowledge and regional, multi-sectoral, multi-stakeholder dialogue.
The Forum is sponsored by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, hosted by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and is the largest annual knowledge-sharing event in the Greater Mekong region. Attracting over 400 delegates, the vast majority come from one of the six Mekong countries: Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
The Australian Water Partnership (AWP) was represented by AWP CEO, Prof Nick Schofield, and AWP Myanmar Coordinator, Mr Rory Hunter. Additionally, AWP Partners International Centre for Environmental Management (ICEM), Mekong Region Futures Institute (MRFI), Oxfam and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) attended and participated in sessions on environmental assessment tools, transboundary policies, water governance and water-food-energy security.
A highlight for AWP was the formal signing of a renewed Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation on Integrated Water Resources Management between Australia and Myanmar, extending the successful collaboration until at least 2021.
A special session on Myanmar’s Ayeyarwady Basin also highlighted much of the work AWP has supported over the past three years. A private session hosting the 4th batch of Myanmar Young Water Professionals (YWPs) emphasised the impact the program has had on them both personally and professionally. This sentiment was echoed by Prof Dr Khin Ni Ni Thein (Component 1 Director of the Ayeyarwady Integrated River Basin Management Project) and U Htun Lwin Oo (Director General, Directorate of Water Resources and Improvement of River Systems), who regard the YWPs as the NWRC’s flagship program.