A high-level delegation from the Mekong River Commission (MRC) is set to journey to Hawaii and California in the United States for a five-day visit.
Between August 14 and 18, the delegates will engage in the annual sister rivers partnership programme, an initiative designed to promote the sharing of best practices on water resources.
Sponsored by the US State Department and the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Mekong representatives are scheduled to meet their counterparts from the Mississippi River Commission.
Together they will share insights on river management, a timely subject with growing international resonance.
The event also includes the International Water Boundary Commission, focusing on collaboration between the US and Mexico over their shared rivers. In a joint media release on August 10, the organisations highlighted the importance of mutual learning and cooperation.
From the Mekong side, the exchange will address five alarming trends currently facing the Mekong River Basin, including changing flow regime, sediment flow, salinity intrusion, plastic pollution, and flood and drought conditions worsened by climate change. The discussions will be significant as these issues have been drawing worldwide attention.
In California, Kirk E. Gibbs, the commanding general of the USACE Pacific Ocean Division, will welcome the delegation to various prominent sites including the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, University of California San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Prado Dam.
“We’re eager to share the innovative ways that we use infrastructure and cutting-edge technology in the US to help monitor water, assess climate impacts, and forecast flooding,” said Gibbs.
“While the specific nature of our challenges may differ, we share a common goal: the sustainable management and development of water resources,” ee detailed.
Highlighting this shared mission, Anoulak Kittikhoun, the CEO of the MRC secretariat, joined heads of delegation and committee members from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.
“Experience is the best teacher, and we learn more how to tackle our own challenges as we go along – what works and what doesn’t,” said Kittikhoun.
“But through partnerships like this with the Mississippi River Commission and USACE, we also benefit by learning from their experiences and expertise,” he added.
Kimberly Peeples, the MRC-USA president, stressed the universal significance of these collaborations.
“Water is a universal necessity. With climate change, how we manage this essential resource must adapt to existing and new water-related challenges,” she said.
“This partnership is a forum to do just that: collaborate and share our knowledge, our best practices and mistakes, so we can work together to meet these challenges head on,” she continued.
The upcoming exchange also includes key figures from the US and Mexico’s water commissions, underlining the broad scope of this international partnership.
In an age of global challenges, shared knowledge and cooperative effort remain invaluable tools for progress and resilience, the release said.
The cooperative agenda between the US and Mexico stretches far beyond shared rivers.
During the visit, the delegates will explore how the two nations collaborate on water, energy, climate change, and other mutual challenges along the US-Mexico border. These discussions are poised to shed light on pressing global issues.
The sister rivers partnership was initiated in 2010 with a vision to formalise collaboration in water resource management.
Through international collaboration, technical exchanges, and the sharing of best practices, the exchange programme promotes transboundary river governance, disaster risk mitigation, and sustainable development. These are all vital components in fostering stability and prosperity, as emphasised by the release.