Mekong Basin countries discuss river development, protection

Vientiane Times 30 July 2010

By Times Reporters

Mekong River development options were put on the table for various stakeholders to consider and debate yesterday, as around 200 delegates from Lower Mekong Basin countries gathered for a two-day meeting in Vientiane.

The meeting on July 29-30 was held to discuss the results of the Mekong River Commission's (MRC) Mekong basin studies on ways in which the water resources of the river should be developed and protected in the future.

This third gathering of the regional forum is also a chance for stakeholders to share their concerns and express their ideas and suggestions to help the MRC send their proposals to the governments of the Mekong basin countries.

The results of development models for the Mekong are built on several years of experience and efforts made in the basin development planning process across the Mekong basin.

“Whether or not some of the proposals for future use of the Mekong water resources, including hydroelectricity or irrigated agriculture, go forward in the future, we also need to make sure that other beneficial uses of water resources such as the abundant natural fisheries and ecosystems are fully recognised and supported, and that a forward-looking development strategy is developed,” said Mr Jeremy Bird, CEO of the MRC Secretariat.

The main areas fo r discussion at the forum included how development and management of Mekong water resources can be sustainable and equitable; the changes developments could have to the river's hydrology and geomorphology; impacts on different river ecosystems; how the economic benefits from these developments would be distributed to different population groups, especially those exposed to the risk of losing livelihoods, and how the proposed options should be summarised for consideration by decision makers.

Today, the forum discusses sustainable basin development and the future of river basin management.