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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

15th meeting of the MRC Council Meeting held

(KPL) The Mekong River Commission held the 15th meeting of the MRC council and the 13th Donor Consultative Group Meeting in Vientiane Capital on 7-8 November.

The meeting was chaired of Standing Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Somsavat Lengsavad. And the event was attended by members of MRC council, delegations and representatives of Myanmar and development partners.

On the occasion Mr. Somsavat greeted welcome the delegation of the MRC council for working visit to Laos. Mme. Khempheng Pholsena, Council Chair for 2008-2009, also a Minister and Head of the Lao Water Resources and Environment Administration, said the Mekong River is revered as the 'mother of water' in Laos, as it nurtures and nourishes the rice fields and fish that form the background of the traditional economic and culture.

She added that cooperative resource and use sustainable water resources management are vital to sustaining the economic growth of the economies of the Mekong countries, and that in these matters the MRC is of great value to its member states.

This organization has an innate interest in balancing the use of the Mekong Basin's resources for the countries' mutual benefit and people's well-being with the need to preserve them for future generations to come, she said.

It also has the knowledge base and technical expertise to help us gain maximum benefit from these resources in the most sustainable manners.

The MRC Council, composed of ministers from each of the four Member States of Cambodia, the Laos PDR, Thailand and Vietnam, is the highest level of commission and meets once a year to make policy decisions and give guidance to the various programmes run by the MRC to implement the 1995 Agreement on Cooperation for the Sustainable Development of the Mekong River Basin.

For the first time the Council meeting held a session with the Donor Consultative Croup, the countries and organisations that provide most of the MRC's funding. Jeremy Bird, Chief Executive Officer of the MRC Secretariat, stressed that the perspective of these development partners on the activities of the MRC, and their views on matters of substance, is extremely important. Over the days of meeting, the four countries and development partners discussed the permanent location of the MRC Secretariat, financial matters, and the progress of programmes such as the Basin Development Plan.The meeting is also discussing recent high-profile events to concern the MRC, including the Regional Multi-Stakeholder Consultation on the MRC Hydropower Programme, also held in Vientiane in September, and the floods that occurred along the Mekong in Laos and Thailand during August.

The Hydropower Consultation marked the first time the issue has been discussed in detail by the four countries in the presence of a broad rang of Stakeholders, including participants from China and Myanmar. Mme. Khempheng praised the MRC's for taking a leading role, saying it is important to have a body that can give impartial and expert advice on this issue and serve as an avenue fro the Member States to jointly discuss and plan their developments.

Moreover, she continued, it can deliver views and information based on its knowledge and expertise and using the tools and processes established under the 1995 Mekong Agreement. In this context it is the role of the MRC to help counties build the needed capacities and institutions to make informed decision.

At the same day, the Danish Government signed an 18 million Danish Kroner (US$ 303 million) funding agreement over a two year period to support the work of the Fisheries Programme of the Mekong River Commission.

The agreement was signed by Mr. Peter Lysholt Hansen, Ambassador of Denmark to Vietnam and Lao PDR, on behalf of the government of the kingdom of Denmark and Mr. Jeremy Bird, Chief Executive Officer of the Mekong River Commission Secretariat.

The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) also signed a Euro 3 million (US$ 4.43) commitment over a two and half year period (December 2008-May 2011) for technical cooperation through GTZ to support the work of Mekong River Commission (MRC). The commitment was signed by Ms. Kerstin Henke, Country Officer for Lao PDR, Cambodia, MRC, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development and Mr. Jeremy Bird.

Mr. Bird thanked the German and Danish Governments for their continued and general support of the MRC's work and said the new technical cooperation would be of great assistance in helping the MRC achieve the goals set up in their 2006-2010 strategic plan.

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