Development Partners statement

Ha Long City, Vietnam, 14 Dec 2018

Twenty-Fifth Meeting of the MRC Council                                                         

SESSION 2: Joint Meeting with the Twenty-Third                                                       

Development Partner Consultative Group

Mekong River Commission                                                                             

28 November 2018

Ha Long City, Viet Nam

 

Statement of the Development Partners on the occasion of the 25th Council Meeting

of the Mekong River Commission

 

 

  1. Development Partners welcome the opportunity to engage in a dialogue with the Mekong River Commission at this 25th Council Meeting and would like to express their appreciation to the Government of Vietnam for hosting this meeting.

  2. Development Partners also take this opportunity to thank Dr Pham Tuan Phan, the first riparian CEO of the MRC Secretariat, for the good cooperation during the last three years, which have been marked by remarkable organizational and technical achievements. We look forward to start working with Dr. An Pich Hatda, as incoming CEO, on the further implementation of the Strategic Plan 2016-2020.

  3. We congratulate the MRC on the successful organization of the Third Summit, during which we reiterated our strong support to the mandate of the MRC, welcoming its contribution to poverty reduction and work towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. We also welcome the strong level of commitment demonstrated by Member Countries through the Siem Reap Declaration to strengthen cooperation over the sustainable development and management of the Mekong River Basin.

  4. Development Partners place great value in the role of the MRC as a knowledge hub and water diplomacy platform promoting the reasonable and equitable utilization of water resources and supporting Member Countries in optimizing water resource development and management projects, while avoiding, minimizing and mitigating their potential harmful effects in the Mekong River Basin.

  5. Development Partners welcome the MRC’s continued efforts to strengthen cooperation with other regional mechanisms, and to pursue an active engagement with China and Myanmar to improve coordination between upstream and downstream riparian countries of the Lancang-Mekong River Basin, especially in areas such as information sharing and basin- wide water resources management, including climate change adaptation and sustainable hydropower development.

  6. While appreciating past efforts to strengthen stakeholder participation, we encourage the MRC Secretariat and Member Countries to consider establishing representation mechanisms for civil society in MRC technical and governance meetings, and to further realize the benefits and opportunities associated with gender equality and social inclusion in the water sector.

  7. Development Partners continue to encourage Member Countries to translate the findings of the Council Study into policies and actions and revisit their development models accordingly, including the integration of non-hydro renewable energy options. We look forward to learning about the progress made by Member Countries with the implementation of the key recommendations of the Council Study and encourage MRC to allocate sufficient resources to support this process as part of the Annual Work Plan 2019 and beyond.

  8. Member Countries reached a significant breakthrough during the prior consultation for the Pak Beng Hydropower Project through the adoption of a joint statement and the agreement to develop a Joint Action Plan (JAP). Development Partners strongly encourage Member Countries to finalize and approve the JAP in order to reduce and mitigate the potential impacts of the project, and to publicly and transparently share information.

  9. We take note that the PNPCA process for the Pak Lay Hydropower Project has contributed to identify shortcomings in the quality of documentation submitted. We appreciate that MRC is investigating this matter during the technical review of the project. We emphasize the growing need for the MRC to provide sound recommendations in order to strengthen the transboundary and cumulative impact assessments.

  10. Following the collapse of a saddle dam of the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy complex in Lao PDR, Development Partners encourage MRC to give greater consideration to development projects on tributaries, especially regarding issues of dam safety. Development Partners would welcome an update from the Government of Lao PDR on the ongoing investigation into the collapse of the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy auxiliary dam as well as of the proposed national dam safety inspection.

  11. We stress the importance of finalizing and releasing the technical review of the design changes of the Xayaburi Hydropower Project, the review of the Design Guidance for Proposed Mainstream Dams, the updated Sustainable Hydropower Development Strategy and the Flood Management and Mitigation Initial Studies. We also look forward to the finalization of the Guidelines on Joint Environmental Monitoring and its piloting at the Don Sahong Hydropower Project.

  12. Development Partners congratulate MRC for the quality and accessibility of the Mekong Flood Forecasting Development Partners observed that the MRC website was referenced systematically in different media throughout the region to report on and forecast the extent of the floods that affected the lower part of the basin in August and September this year. We encourage the MRC to develop and apply a similar system for drought forecasting.

  13. In light of the results of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on “Global Warming of 1.5 °C” and the severity of the recent extreme weather events in the region, Development Partners encourage Member Countries to mainstream and prioritize mitigation and adaptation measures into their future plans and strategies, both at national and regional levels.

  14. Development Partners understand that Member Countries are confronted with challenges in the transfer of core river basin management functions from the Secretariat to the national level. We would welcome an update from the MRC on the status of the decentralization process and on proposed solutions to address these challenges.

  15. Development Partners look forward to the finalization of the Mid-Term Review to better understand the state of implementation of the Strategic Plan 2016-2020. It is of utmost importance that the review’s recommendations and findings be used to guide implementation in the remaining two years, and the formulation of the next Strategic plan.

  16. Development Partners take note of the results of the Operational Review and ask the MRC to take all the necessary measures to implement the key recommendations, especially with regards to budgeting, planning and financial management. The Mekong River Commission Secretariat (MRCS) and Member Countries should also consider updating the Rules of Procedures to reflect the changes brought about by the reform.

  17. Development Partners stress the importance of establishing sound internal control mechanisms to ensure the financial transparency and accountability of the funds managed by the MRC, starting with the recruitment of an internal auditor, the effective establishment of the Audit Committee, and the establishment of a reporting line between the Audit Committee and the Budget Committee. As agreed during the Budget Committee in August 2018, Development Partners look forward to receiving the latest internal audit reports.

  18. Strict compliance with internal procedures and decisions of the governing bodies, including the Budget Committee, are a pre-requisite for the transparent, effective and efficient implementation of the Strategic Plan and for the reputation of, and ongoing financial support to the MRC.

  19. As in previous years, we look forward to a written response to this statement within one month after this meeting.

  20. We thank the Government of Vietnam for hosting this meeting. We highly value the opportunity to engage with the MRC on issues of great importance to the region, and we thank the Member Countries for their continuous engagement with us.

 

This statement is endorsed by:

Australia,   Belgium,    the    European    Union,    France,    Germany,   IUCN,   Luxembourg,   the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States and the World Bank.