Saturday, July 14, 2012

Meeting reviews Mekong projects

Vietnam News: Foreign ministers from Lower Mekong nations and the US convened for their fifth meeting yesterday in Phnom Penh to review the implementation of programmes on the environment, education, health and infrastructure.

This year's meeting saw the first presence of Myanmar as an official Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) partner nation, together with Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Viet Nam. At the meeting, the ministers agreed to add a new pillar of agriculture and food security chaired by Myanmar, to establish the pillar "connectivity" on the basis of broadening the co-operation content in infrastructure, and strengthen co-operation with the Mekong River Commission (MRC) while broadening programmes on water.

The environment and water pillar, formerly known as the environment pillar, will be chaired by Viet Nam. The meeting agreed to strengthen co-ordination among LMI countries through a co-ordination network. They also decided to establish an LMI working group of experts and outstanding figures.

The ministers also ratified a LMI concept paper and a plan of action to implement the LMI during 2011-15, while releasing a statement on gender equality and female empowerment. A LMI working group for gender was also formed.

At the meeting, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced an LMI programme to 2020, pledging a US$50 million assistance package for LMI activities over the next three years, as well as committing $2 million for the fisheries programme and $1 million for a MRC research programme on the impacts of hydroelectric dams on the main flow of the Mekong River.

On the same day, the Friends of Lower Mekong (FLM) Ministerial Meeting also took place in Phnom Penh, bringing together foreign ministers and high-ranking officials from the LMI countries as well as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the European Union, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, among others....

The Mekong River in Laos, shot by Allie Caulfield, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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