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PRESS RELEASE

Finland supports Mekong countries to take up
emerging challenges


Hua Hin, THAILAND
3 April 2010

Efforts to create an integrated water resource development strategy across the Mekong river basin received a new boost today as the Finnish Government committed to a grant of Euros 1 million to support the MRC Water Management Trust Fund.

The Fund provides a rapid and flexible support mechanism for MRC policy and strategy development and implementation as well as responding to unforeseen short-term needs of Member Countries. In particular, the funding will support MRC Member Counties, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam, to formulate a new 5-year Strategy for the organization based on principles of integrated water resources management (IWRM).

“MRC needs a strategy that increasingly takes into account the emerging issues such as climate change, food security, energy and resource security while protecting the existing multitude of natural resource uses. Extreme natural events, such as the very dry conditions currently being experienced across the Mekong region reflect an increasingly urgent need for basin-wide strategic cooperation,” said Jeremy Bird, CEO of the MRC Secretariat as the funding agreement was signed in Hua Hin, Thailand.

“Finland’s direct contribution is financially significant and symbolises its commitment to trans-boundary cooperation that will be responsive to the needs of the Mekong Countries and their people’s welfare,” he added.

Building on 15 years of experience and achievements in water and related resources governance, the MRC has increasingly engaged with a broader and more representative group of basin stakeholders in its work and this will continue in the process of formulating its future strategic directions, a process that the Finnish funding will support.

“The Finnish government recognises the role the MRC has played in trans-boundary cooperation and its strategic inventions, which are in line with our overarching development goals in the Mekong region,” said Ms Helena Ahola, Counsellor Head of Development Cooperation for the Embassy of Finland, “We hope that our cooperation will enhance the ability of the Mekong Countries to manage water resources and to turn the pressing challenges into opportunities that will benefit millions of people who depend heavily on Mekong resources for their livelihoods.”

Note to editors:
The Water Management Trust Fund (WMTF) is to provide strategic and flexible support to the MRC programme development and a facility for the MRC to develop and implement its programmes, responding to short-term demand of Member Countries in fulfilling its mandate in trans-boundary water resources management and development. Together with support from the French and Danish governments, WMTF has helped achieve a number of important studies and review developments including:

  • Mid-term review of the implementation of current MRC Strategic Plan and laying the foundation for the formulation of the Strategic Plan 2011-2015;
  • Improvement of the organisation’s effectiveness including organizational review, permanent location of the MRC Secretariat and development of a Stakeholder Engagement Policy at governance level; and
  • Strategic review of the MRC’s role in agriculture and irrigation sector in the Lower Mekong Basin.

The MRC is the intergovernmental body responsible for cooperation on the sustainable management of the Mekong Basin whose members include Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam. In dealing with these challenges, it looks across all sectors including sustaining fisheries, identifying opportunities for agriculture, maintaining the freedom of navigation, flood management and preserving important ecosystems. Superimposed on these are the future effects of more extreme floods, prolonged drought and sea level rise associated with climate change. In providing its advice, the MRC aims to facilitate a broad range of dialogue among governments, the private sector and civil society on these challenges.

For more information, contact:
Damian Kean, Communication Advisor,
Tel: +856 20 752 7500 (Lao PDR)
       + 66 861 030 710 (Thailand)
E-mail: damian@mrcmekong.org
Website: www.mrcmekong.org