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
Minister of Natural Resources and Environment
Chairperson of the Lao National Mekong Committee
Member of MRC Council for Lao PDR
Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of Viet Nam Chairman of the Viet Nam National Mekong Committee Chairman of the MRC Council for 2018
Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology of Cambodia Chairman of Cambodia National Mekong Committee Member of the MRC Council for Cambodia
Head of the delegation of Thailand
It is my honor and pleasure to be here today on behalf of the Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic at the 25th Meeting of the MRC Council and the Joint Session with the MRC Partners held in this beautiful city of Ha Long in the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam. On this occasion, I would like to express our great appreciation to the Vietnamese government for the excellent hospitality extended to the Lao delegation as well as congratulating H.E. Tran Hong Ha for his successful chairmanship of the Council this year. I would also like to express our sincere thanks to the MRC Secretariat for their hard work in preparing the documents and arrangements for series of meetings held during the past months.
The year 2018 marks an important milestone for MRC and Mekong cooperation. The 3rd MRC Summit successfully upheld the One Mekong One Spirit of cooperation under the theme of “Enhancing Joint Efforts and Partnership Towards Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, in the Mekong River Basin”. Our Prime Ministers joined hands once again in issuing the Siem Reap Declaration highlighting the achievements of the MRC, the challenges facing the Mekong basin and the joint efforts needed to tackle a number of priority areas. The leaders strongly reaffirmed the MRC mission to promote and coordinate the sustainable development and management of the water and related resources of the Mekong for our countries mutual benefits and the people’s well-being. Most importantly, the leaders uplifted the unique and primary role of the MRC in this regard. “One Mekong one spirit’’
The Lao PDR attaches great importance to the 1995 Mekong Agreement and equitable development, sovereign equality and territorial integrity, and to cooperate with our member countries and partners in promoting the development of the full potential of sustainable benefits to all riparian states and the prevention of wasteful use of the Mekong river basin waters. In line with the ASEAN regional integration agenda, the Lao PDR fully supports and implements the sustainable development of water and related resources of the Mekong for national development and poverty alleviation, narrowing the development gap among Mekong and ASEAN countries. We are grateful for the understanding and cooperation of our neighbors and partners and deeply appreciate your acknowledgement of the special needs and circumstances of the least developed countries.
In this regard, Lao PDR duly recognizes our international obligations as stipulated in the Mekong Agreement, the MRC Procedures and the Basin Development Strategy. At the MRC Summit our Prime Minister, H.E. Thongloun Sisoulith, has reaffirmed the Lao PDR’s readiness to continue efforts to fulfil our obligations and commitment together with other MRC Member Countries in the effective and sustainable development of the Mekong River Basin. Therefore, we have agreed to the new financial contribution to MRC and to continually increase toward equal sharing by 2030 and we fully cooperate in sharing information, submitting projects for consultation, and seriously consider and make changes when necessary to accommodate the legitimate concerns of our partners and friends.
The Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic is implementing its 8th Five-year National Socio-Economic Development Plan and the Vision of becoming middle-high income country by 2030. In this relation the Lao PDR pursues a policy of sustainable water resources development, including hydropower development addressing climate change, dam safety, etc. taking comparative advantage of its geographical position and abundant of natural resources, as with any country in the past and present.
Lao PDR acknowledges the importance Mekong Agreement 1995, the PNPCA process, which necessary instrument for sustainable development of Mekong region by which stake holder have an opportunity to share their views and good recommendations have been taken into account by Lao PDR in the redesign and adaptive management of the projects. Through joint monitoring we will find out and learn together how to minimize negative impacts should they arise. In the case of Pak Beng, we have agreed in principle to have a joint action plan for continuing engagement, while the details are being worked out.
Cooperation takes time. But without MRC and PNPCA, cooperation is not possible. This demonstrates the value of the MRC.
The Lao government highly appreciates the concerns of member countries and partners on the hydropower development strategy and plan of our country. It is our government policy and practice to develop hydropower in the most responsible, sustainable, technologically advanced with world leading experts and consultants to support us and using the best international practices guidelines of MRC, World Bank and other international organizations. Following recent events, it is our Government’s highest priority to review, consider and implement all hydropower projects in a careful, transparent and most prudent manner. At the national level, the new Water Law and the revised Electricity Law require strong social and environmental standards and obligations for all projects.
It is our understanding that despite the challenges that Mekong river basin face in terms of climate change, population growth, and rising water demand and use, we are also blessed with opportunities in terms of cooperation not just within the MRC family but also through ASEAN, Greater Mekong Sub-region, and Mekong Lancang Cooperation. As co-chair of the Mekong Lancang Cooperation, Lao PDR is pleased to help finalize the Five-Year Action Plan on Water Resources Development which also encourages cooperation in this area with the Mekong River Commission.
Finally, we continue to express our deep appreciation to the strong support of our development partners including the new financial contributions of Germany and the European Union this year.
I would like to conclude by thanking the first riparian Chief Executive Officer of the Mekong River Commission Secretariat, a citizen of our dear friend Viet Nam and a citizen of the Mekong, for his strong and active promotion of the work of the MRC. We look forward to working with the new riparian CEO from Cambodia.