Speech of CEO Pham Tuan Phan, Conference on Sustainable and Climate-Resilient Development of the Mekong Delta of Vietnam, 27/09/2017, Can Tho city, Vietnam

Can Tho, 26 September 2017, 26 Sep 2017

Excellency Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc,

Excellencies Ministers, Leaders of cities and provinces, Representatives of international organisations, Ambassadors and Representatives of diplomatic missions, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Mekong River Commission (MRC) highly welcome the “Conference on Sustainable and Climate-Resilient Development of the Mekong Delta of Vietnam”. We hope that the Conference is the start of Vietnam’s application of the Water Guidance. This guidance is a framework initiated by the Government of Australia, represented by the Australian Prime Minister, recommending to the High Level Panel on Water launched by the United Nations and the World Bank in 2016. The Guidance consists of knowledge and lessons learnt on water management over centuries, from the 150-year management of the Mississippi river to experiences of the Muray-Darling basin, and that of the Rhine, the Danube and so on. I wish the Government of Vietnam stands on the shoulders of mankind to embark on a rapid and sustainable development path. This is the first piece of advice that I would like to share with you today. My term with the MRC will continue for another 16 months. However, we all understand, it will take not only 16 months but tens of years to implement this framework. Thus, perseverance is the key to success and it is my second piece of advice today.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Mekong River Commission has a strong legal foundation, the 1995 Mekong Agreement. The Government of Vietnam is a worthy and proud member to this Agreement. All over the world, we can see similar arrangements such as the Blue Nile agreement taking 13 years to negotiate and seeing the last minute withdraw by a downstream country. The Government of Vietnam shows its outstanding contribution to regional cooperation. I would like to emphasise that the 1995 Mekong Agreement ultimately serves sustainable development of the Mekong Delta. Active implementation of the above-mentioned Water Guidance will result in a number of activities to further strengthen the Mekong Agreement, especially on water distribution, water sharing, and flexible mechanisms to deal with small changes, ect… This is the third piece of advice.

The 1995 Mekong Agreement is the evidence of the solidarity of member countries to foster regional cooperation in order to manage and protect water related resources of the Mekong 

river. The sustainable development of the Cuu Long River Delta in Vietnam needs to share the same vision with the Mekong basin development plan. The Mekong River Commission has been implementing its Strategic Plan for 2016-2020. This is the second five-year plan for the Mekong River Commission and the first cycle was from 2011 to 2015. The Strategic Plan was established based on the assessment of basin-wide development scenarios and the basin development strategies. The Mekong River Commission is preparing its comprehensive development strategy for the Mekong River basin for the five years of 2020-2025. The forth piece of advice is to adjust and adapt the development plan of Cuu Long River Delta to be in line with the basin vision and development strategies of the region, inheriting knowledge and tools developed by the Mekong River Commission in the most effective way. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Mekong River Commission is proud of its knowledge accumulating over 70 years on Mekong River. They are:

  • climate vulnerability in the Mekong Delta
  • increase of coastal erosion
  • increase of sea water intrusion
  • sediment transport to the delta
  • impacts of projects on the main stream of Mekong River
  • potentials to sustainably develop fisheries in the Delta
  • irrigation and so on

Thus, the fifth piece of advice is to use and inherit knowledge available of the Mekong River Commission.

The Mekong River Commission initiated its Climate Change Adaptation Initiative in 2007 to mainstream climate change adaptation into planning process and development plans. We have developed a framework of actions from 2009 to 2025. The initiative has received so far 14 million US dollars from development partners of Australia, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, GermCu any, Sweden, and the European Union. The result of this initiative is a basin-wide assessment of climate change impacts. In 2011, the Mekong River Commission decided to develop a Mekong Adaptation Strategy and Action Plan, so called MASAP, which was integrated into the strategic plans of the cycle 2011-2015 and will be so for the 2016-2020 cycle. The MASAP is a “statement” of the Lower Mekong Basin countries setting out basin level strategic priorities to address climate change risks and strengthen basin-wide resilience. The joint statements of the four Prime Ministers at the MRC 2010 Hua Hin and 2014 Ho Chi Minh City Summits both reaffirmed the role of the MRC in the area of climate change adaptation. The MASAP facilitates member countries to effectively implement their own national strategies. The final version of MASAP is now available and it will be submitted for endorsement and approval at the end of 2017. I am calling for the Government of Vietnam and participants in this Conference to apply and make use of the works and achievements from the Mekong River Commission on climate change and adaptation to transform to a sustainable and climate resilient Cuu Long River Delta. This is the sixth piece of advice.

The MRC Summit 2018 will be organised in April 2018 in Siem Riep, Cambodia, falling on the celebration of 1995 Mekong Agreement anniversary. We expect the Summit will send out stronger messages and decisions to enhance cooperation and partnerships for the sustainable development of the Mekong River Basin.

In conclusion, the MRC recognise that “Sustainable and Climate-Resilient Development of the Mekong Delta of Viet Nam” requires coordinated actions by all the riparian countries. We remain convinced that cooperation through the MRC must remain central to all our efforts in this regard. I therefore urge the Prime Minister, the Government, ministries and agencies, leadership of provinces and cities, and international organizations, Ambassadors and diplomatic mission representatives to continue your strong engagement with the Commission as you move forward in your endeavours.

I would like to wish the Government of Vietnam and the Conference a successful start for the long journey of the “Sustainable and Climate-Resilient Development of the Mekong Delta of Viet Nam” in line the vision and mandates of the 1995 Mekong Agreement.

Thank you for listening.