Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - MRC unveils plans to balance Mekong basin development

MRC unveils plans to balance Mekong basin development

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Fishing boats on the Mekong River in Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changvar district in February. Hong Menea

MRC unveils plans to balance Mekong basin development

The Mekong River Commission (MRC) unveiled a new 10-year Basin Development Strategy (BDS) and five-year Strategic Plan (SP) to balance basin development and management to enable Mekong member countries to address emerging challenges and improve the overall state of the basin.

In a press release on April 5, the MRC said BDS 2021-2030 was approved by the governments of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

The strategy focuses on improving the ecological functioning of the Mekong River to maintain a healthy environment and productive communities. It also aims to improve access to and use of water and related resources by Mekong communities to enhance their wellbeing.

The development focus is on sustainability and inclusive economic growth; resilience to climate and disaster risks; and enhanced regional cooperation from a whole-of-basin perspective.

An Pich Hatda, MRC Secretariat chief executive officer, said: “The strategy is aligned with the Mekong governments’ priorities and needs for achieving a stronger and more resilient Mekong River Basin through proactive planning and coordinated management, and thus ensuring a balance between economic development and environmental protection.”

MRC said this new 10-year strategy is based on recent assessments of the significant impacts caused by water and related resource developments and infrastructure up-river, including dams that have changed the flow of water, affecting sediment transport and magnifying bank erosion.

These impacts have in turn led to a decline in the natural fish populations and the degradation of environmental assets and floodplains, with an overall reduction in the cyclical replenishment of the Mekong Delta.

“Climate change has further added to the severity of these impacts, bringing more uncertainties and risks, including frequent droughts and floods,” the MRC statement said.

MRC expects to invest over $60 million over the next five years, of which about 40 per cent of the funds will come from MRC member countries. They will work on making proactive assessments and the identification of new storage options and new water flow and environmental limits.

The will recommend basin-wide joint investment projects that will have multiple benefits for flood management, drought relief, energy security and environmental protection.

Cambodia’s National Mekong Committee (CNMC)’s deputy secretary-general Kol Vathana said on April 6 that the 10-year strategy demonstrates the efforts and attention of the four countries now that weaknesses in the Mekong River have been identified, warranting urgent solutions.

“The preparation of this strategic plan for the river basin is based on past experience through the assessment of weaknesses, the actual situation of the river basin and its water resources. This plan is a good thing,” he said.

Mak Bunthoeun, a coordinator of River Coalition Cambodia at the NGO Forum on Cambodia, supported the launch of the new plan. But he noted that it would require each country to implement the plan fully in order for it to work.

“What we need to look at is whether each country is willing to participate in the implementation of the plan, because it may [be viewed as contrary] to some countries’ interests,” he said, adding that information sharing is what MRC must address now to avoid future unwanted consequences.

MOST VIEWED

  • Construction begins on $1.5B Kampot seaport

    The International Multi-Purpose Logistics and Port Centre, principally invested by Kampot Logistics and Port Co Ltd and projected to cost $1.5 billion, has officially broken ground in Bokor town, Kampot province. The multi-purpose logistics and port centre, located in Prek Tnaot commune, will be built on

  • Hun Neng, lawmaker and PM’s brother, passes away aged 72

    Hun Neng, chairman of the 4th Commission of the National Assembly, has passed away from heart disease at the age of 72 on the afternoon of May 5, according to the Ministry of Information. Hun Neng is the older brother of Prime Minister Hun Sen, and was

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with

  • PM takes time to meet, greet Cambodians living in the US

    After landing in the US ahead of the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen was received by over 1,000 Cambodian-Americans including political analysts who welcomed him with greetings, fist bumps and selfies. Hun Sen also met with analyst Mak Hoeun, who had allegedly spoken ill

  • Khmer cinema classics back on big screen for free at WB Arena’s outdoor movies series

    On a recent Saturday evening at WB Arena, Bunsong was enjoying a tasty BBQ meal with his family after work on the long tables that had been arranged out in front of the restaurant as they watched a Khmer action movie on a big outdoor