(KPL) Ministerial delegates from the Mekong River Commission (MRC) Council on Wednesday reaffirmed the organization’s reform commitment and regional relevance as it agreed on key issues, including the endorsement of the selected candidate for the MRC Secretariat’s second riparian Chief Executive Officer and the annual work plan for 2019, including priority works.
The MRC Council is the highest, ministerial level of the organization, composed of water resources and environment ministers from the member countries of Cambodia, the Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam.
During an annual gathering, held in Ha Long, Vietnam on Nov 28-29, the Council endorsed the recruitment report by the MRC’s management body the Joint Committee on the second riparian CEO of the MRC Secretariat and named An Pich Hatda of Cambodia as the next CEO.
The incoming CEO, currently serving as MRC Secretariat’s Director of Planning Division, is expected to take up his office in late January 2019 for a three-year tenure.
This is the second time the MRC has appointed a CEO from one of the four member countries, following the first appointment of the current CEO Pham Tuan Phan of Viet Nam. The move is in line with the MRC’s riparianization policy and goal of becoming financial self-sufficient by 2030.
The Council also approved the annual work plan for 2019, with a budget of about US$15.8 million. The annual work plan is the detailed operational plan, activities and tasks along with associated budgets to implement the organization’s strategic plan at the regional level.
The approved plan prioritizes on the commencement of updating the basin development strategy and its implication for the new strategic plan for 2021-2025.
It also focuses on finalizing and publishing the Mekong state of the basin report 2018, which provides information on the status and trends of water and related resources in the Mekong basin.
Gender mainstreaming, stakeholder engagement and communication, and uptake of already delivered and produced products, such as the Mekong climate change adaptation strategy and action plan, the basin-wide fisheries strategy, the navigation master plan, and the Council Study, are also among the top priorities for next year.
Strengthening the efficiency and effectiveness of the Commission’s Regional Flood Management and Mitigation Center to deliver effective, fast and reliable information on both flood and drought is also on the agenda.
The Council also agreed to continue discussion and consensus-building around other key areas, such as the update of the sustainable hydropower development strategy, the preliminary design guidance for mainstream dams, and transboundary environment impact assessment guidelines.
In its preparatory meeting for the Council meeting the day before, the Joint Committee, having heard and discussed the Xayaburi design changes review report, agreed that it would be used as a valuable technical reference document. The MRC Secretariat and member countries are encouraged to take stock of and learn from it for the benefit of basin development and sustainability.
The Xayaburi design changes review report is the result of the MRC Secretariat’s study to determine whether the recommendations from the prior consultation’s Xayaburi Technical Review Report by the MRC Secretariat have been taken up in the re-design of the Xayaburi project.
It notes the substantial efforts and investment made by the Lao PDR in addressing the comments of the MRC and stakeholders.
In the meeting, Development Partners of the MRC also welcomed the efforts and strong level of commitment of the MRC member countries to strengthen cooperation over the sustainable development and management of the Mekong river basin.
They stressed the crucial role of the MRC in promoting the reasonable and equitable utilization of water resources and supporting member countries in this course.
The MRC has continued to receive new funding commitments from Development Partners for the implementation of the strategic plan 2016-2020, with funding agreements to be signed between the MRC and Germany and the European Union taking place at the sidelines of the Council meeting.
Source: Lao News Agency