Statement from Thailand

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 by Miss Wanthanee Viputwongsakul

Head of The Delegation of Thailand

 

 

Excellency Dr. Tran Hong Ha, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of Viet Nam,

Excellency Mr. Lim Kean Hor, Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology of the Kingdom of Cambodia,

Excellency Mr. Sommad Pholsena, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of Lao People’s Democratic Republic,

Distinguished Representatives of Dialogue Partners and Development Partners

Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

1. It is my great honour to participate in the Twenty-Fifth Meeting of the MRC Council in this magnificent Ha Long City. On behalf of General Surasak Kanjanarat, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, MRC Council Member of Thailand, I would like to convey my congratulations to His Excellency Dr. Tran Hong Ha, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of Viet Nam, on his assumption of the chairmanship of the MRC Council.

2. I am confident that your able leadership will guide the Mekong River Commission to achieve the goals and aspirations set by the 1995 Mekong Agreement.

3. Since the early days of the Mekong River Commission, the MRC Member Countries have always affirmed our resolve to effectively implement the 1995 Mekong Agreement. This commitment has been reaffirmed at the highest level since the First MRC Summit in Hua Hin, Thailand in 2010, and at the 3rd Summit earlier this year in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

4. The Mekong River Basin and the MRC exist as part of a larger global context. When we met at the 24th Council Meeting in Pattaya, Thailand in 2017, and again highlighted by our leaders at the 3rd MRC Summit in Siem Reap, there is a need to see the work of the MRC in light of the Sustainable Development Goals. Our regional partnership can contribute, and complement the global efforts, to achieve sustainable development.

Mr. Chairman, Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

5. With all the successes that the MRC has achieved, there are still common challenges and on-going works that require direction and guidance from the Council. For Thailand, we feel that the following issues should feature prominently on the MRC’s agenda for the coming year:

6. Firstly, Transboundary environmental and socio-economic impact that might result from development projects is a cause of concern for many of the population living along the Mekong River. It is our duty to alleviate their concern. We believe that the work of the MRC and its outputs can help the Member Countries addressing this issue. Meanwhile, The Study on the Sustainable Management and Development of the Mekong River, including Impacts of Mainstream Hydropower Projects, known as the ‘Council Study’, which was completed last year, contains valuable multi-dimensional information, in-depth analyses, helpful suggestions, and noteworthy recommendations.

7. In our view, the Council Study can serve as a useful resource and guidance for both the Member Countries and the Secretariat in respect of existing and future hydropower projects, such as monitoring and evaluation, institutional strengthening, knowledge transfer, and capacity building for the riparian staff.

8. Secondly, certain part of Thailand, in particular the northeastern region, continues to suffer from regular flood and drought. The scale of impact has markedly increased since 2014 and has significantly affected the livelihood of the people there. The problem needs to be comprehensively tackled and we believe the MRC is part of the long-term sustainability of the solution. Therefore, Thailand considers the MRC activities on flood and drought to be of high priority. We would like to see best practices as well as implementable flood and drought strategy.

9. Thailand expects the flood and drought strategy to be finalized and endorsed by the end of this year, so that it could be implemented in line with the MRC Strategic Plan 2016-2020.

10. Thirdly, on the Annual Work Plan 2019 which is finalized and submitted to the Council for consideration and approval. Thailand encourages the Secretariat to adhere to the approved Annual Work Plan, in particular in respect of budget utilization allocated for each item, with a view to ensuring effective implementation of the work plan as well as promoting sound budgetary discipline.

11. Fourthly, we are fully aware of the dynamism of other Sub-regional cooperation frameworks including the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (MLC) and Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS). Thailand wishes to see greater coordination and cooperation between the MRC and these frameworks through the exchange of information and data in a systematic manner.

12. Data collection and data sharing are prerequisites for the sustainable management of the Mekong river basin. In this regard, Thailand continues to highlight the MRC’s unique role in data and knowledge sharing and supports its efforts to become the Knowledge and Information Hub of the Sub-region.

Mr. Chairman, Excellencies,

13. Allow me to touch on a topic which at first does not appear to be directly relevant for the MRC – that is the issue of marine debris. The Southeast Asian region faces serious marine debris problem, especially in the form of plastic litters. Studies have shown that a significant portion of marine debris in our region in fact is carried to the ocean through the river systems, the Mekong is no exception.

14. We, therefore, invite the Mekong Member Countries deepen our cooperation on this matter, which is already within the mandate of the MRC to protect the environmental conditions of the Mekong from pollution.

15. During the ASEAN Chairmanship of Thailand in 2019, we will host a special session of the ASEAN Ministerial Conference on Marine Debris, 4-6 March 2019, Bangkok, Thailand. The Conference will be a platform for discussions among the ASEAN Member Countries to address the problem of marine debris and to find a sustainable regional solution.

Mr. Chairman, Excellencies,

16. Thailand appreciates the Dialogue Partners’ positive efforts and contributions in the Mekong Sub-region. With China, we hope to see enhancement in hydrological information sharing and with Myanmar we encourage the Secretariat to finalize cooperation strategy to further strengthen cooperation.

17. Thailand also realizes that all activities would not be achieved without the contributions from Development Partners. In this regard, may I express our sincere gratitude for your supports and contributions. I do hope that we will continue to collaborate efficiently in order to achieve sustainable development.

Mr. Chairman, Excellencies,

18. In closing, even though, our region is facing development challenges, I strongly believe that the MRC’s unique expertise and accumulative knowledge over the past several decades will continue to contribute to better livelihood and well-being of the peoples in the Mekong River Basin. Once again, may I express my sincere appreciation to Viet Nam and the MRC Secretariat for the warm hospitality and excellent arrangements for the Twenty-Fifth Meeting of the MRC Council.

 

Thank you.