Mekong, Mississippi river bodies state cooperation intention

The Mekong River Commission (MRC) announced July 30 that it and the Mississippi River Commission in the US have announced their intention to cooperate on a wide range of water resources challenges common to both river basins.

MRC is the intergovernmental body responsible for cooperation on the sustainable management of the Mekong Basin whose members are Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

The body said the intention to cooperate was formalized at a ceremony in Lao’s Vientiane July 29, and follows the recent visit by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the region to encourage cooperation between America, ASEAN and the Mekong countries.  

MRC said it and the Mississippi River Commission intend to exchange technical cooperation and know-how to determine how best to adapt to climate change as it affects the Mekong river system.

They will also work together to promote the sustainability of hydropower development, address water and food security, manage and cope with floods and droughts better, and increase navigation and trade on their inland waterways.

The agreement follows a commitment made by Ms. Clinton at last week’s meeting of Mekong Foreign Ministers in Phuket, Thailand, to bolster cooperation in environment, health and education with Lower Mekong Basin countries.

“The Mekong River Commission and the Mississippi River Commission are very similar in terms of their principles and mandates,” Jeremy Bird, CEO of the Mekong River Commission Secretariat, said in the July 30 announcement.

He said, “Both organizations strive to sustainably manage water resources against challenges related to climate change, extreme floods, hydropower development, increasing demand for water, improving navigation and trade, and involving people in the basin more on decisions that affect their lives.”

Mr. Bird added, “Both organizations are therefore well-placed to benefit each other through a technical exchange and learn how to best manage their respective complex trans-boundary rivers.”

Brigadier General Michael J Walsh, President of the Mississippi River Commission, said in the statement, “While the Mekong and Mississippi Rivers are experiencing challenges, their respective Commissions also have considerable institutional and professional expertise in dealing with these challenges.”

“Both organizations will profit from a closer partnership and the sharing of best practices,” added Mr. Walsh.

In related news, the Mekong River Commission said July 29 that a meeting in Vientiane the day saw China reaffirm its commitment to work with Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam on a range of Mekong related issues including understanding the environmental effects of hydropower dams on the river.

By Tuong Thuy

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