Vientiane Times, January 14, 2013
Laos will host the annual meeting of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) Council this week with discussions to focus on sustainable development in the Mekong basin.
According to the Lao National Mekong River Committee, the 19th meeting of the MRC Council will take place from January 14 to 17 in Luang Prabang. Issues on the agenda range from administrative topics to new investment projects by the MRC.
Topping the agenda is the implementation of the Hua Hin Declaration, approved strategies and regulations, and progress of preparations for a comprehensive study of management and sustainable development in the Mekong basin.
The four day meeting will discuss cooperation with dialogue partners China and Myanmar, donors and international organisations. The meeting will also consider and approve the MRC’s budget for 2013.
The Mekong River Commission Council meets annually as required by the 1995 MRC Agreement.
The Minister of Natural Resources and Environment and Chairman of the Lao National Mekong Committee, Mr Noulinh Sinbandhit, along with his Cambodian, Thai and Vietnamese counterparts is expected to attend the meeting.
As dialogue partners, China and Myanmar will also send officials to attend the meeting, at which representatives of donors and international organisations will also be present.
The Lao government’s policy is to preserve natural resources so they can be used to sustain social and economic development.
The National Growth and Poverty Eradication Strategy and the 7th National Economic and Social Development Plan for 2011-2015 strongly emphasise the utilisation of natural resources as a key driver for economic growth and poverty eradication. The government remains committed to effective resource governance as well as the maintenance of environmental and social safeguards.
Laos has a clear objective to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 as targeted and graduate from least developed country status by 2020 while, at the same time, contributing to the Mekong Region’s economic development.
Aiming to use and manage the country’s natural resources and environment in a sustainable manner, in particular, to ensure the achievement of MDG 7 on environmental sustainability, the Lao government established a unified institution, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, in 2011.
The government has approved the Decree on River Basin Committee, aiming to achieve effective and efficient water resources management through applying integrated water resources management principles at the basin and sub-basin level as well as encouraging the participation of all stakeholders through stakeholder dialogue and benefit sharing.