International Conference

Cooperation for Water, Energy, and Food Security in Transboundary Basins under Changing Climate

2‐3 April 2014, Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam

SECOND ANNOUNCEMENT

Background

This Second Announcement, together with the attached Draft Programme, provides a summary of the background and the objectives of MRC's Pre-Summit International Conference: "Cooperation for Energy, Food and Water Security in trans-boundary Basins under changing climate". It outlines the key topic and issues, focal areas and interests of the conference, as well as desired outputs, aiming at informing potential participants, guiding speakers and panellists, as well as the process of producing the Conference Statement and the Conference Publication.

The international debate on water resources management - including its linkages to other sectors and issues - is currently revolving around a number of issues of high importance to the management of international river basins generally as well as to the Mekong River Basin specifically. One of the key issues is management of water resources, energy and food security in an integrated manner considering a changing climate. Other issues are how to achieve sustainable (green) growth that ensures the socio-economic growth of countries while ensuring the long-term sustainability of their development paths, or issues related to the sharing of growth benefits with a wide range of stakeholders, ensuring inclusive development for all.

These topics are currently being widely addressed at the international level. For instance, 2014 will be the UN's year on water and energy. This includes the publication of the World Water Development Report with a specific focus on water and energy and the World Water Week in Stockholm focusing specifically on questions related to water and energy. In 2015, stock taking of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) is on the international agenda, along with the adoption of a new set of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to succeed them, setting the stage for the post-2015 development agenda. In this context, a potential dedicated SDG on water is being discussed internationally at the UN as well as in various other international and regional fora , along with how to reflect and target water in other SDGs. 2015 is also the year of the COP 21 in Paris at which a new global climate agreement is on the agenda. These topics are of great importance to transboundary basins organisations and their efforts in managing water resources (Figure 1).

Figure 1: The interdependence between water, energy and food resources and their integrated management in a changing climate provides the basis for sustainable (green) growth, in turn a prerequisite for achieving sustainable development for riparian states of a shared basin. Such sustainable development can, however, only be achieved if benefits from the use of water, energy and food resources are shared among different stakeholders

Acknowledging the importance of these topics, the MRC therefore aims at engaging with other shared basins and the different actors involved in their management in a discussion about sustainable river basin and aquifer management and development that benefits the entire basin and its populations. Following the 1st MRC Summit and the Pre-Summit International Conference “Transboundary Water Resources Management in a Changing World, held in 2010, and the MRC international conference “Mekong to Rio” held in 2012, the Mekong River Commission (MRC) will therefore organise a third international conference conjoint with its 2nd MRC Summit - the Pre-Summit International Conference entitled “Cooperation for Energy, Food and Water Security in trans-boundary Basins under changing climate”.

The Conference and its expected outcomes

The Conference will be a two-day platform for discussion of the benefits of transboundary cooperation in ensuring water, energy and food security while considering climate change and other drivers of development. Sharing experiences and drawing lessons from these experiences will be important to address the challenges. While the water, energy and food security nexus in a transboundary context is the underlying and cross-cutting subject of the conference, three overall topics will be discussed in parallel tracks: (1) climate change adaptation, (2) sustainable development and (3) benefits of cooperation.

The conference is expected to gather some 300 participants, including chief and senior representatives from some 20 transboundary river basin organizations in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, leading representatives of some 15 international and regional organizations, most of which will support the Conference as Sponsoring Partners, and a wide range of stakeholders from the Mekong region and beyond.

From the international conference and the fruitful exchange of knowledge, MRC wishes to generate the following outcomes:

  1. An increased awareness of the interplay between different water resources management challenges, and increased knowledge of what regional cooperation means, mechanisms and methods for sustainably managing shared basins to the benefits of all through an active and inspiring discussion among participants from different regions and different basins, engaging in mutual learning and the sharing of experiences in international river basins and aquifers;
  2. A Conference Statement, informing the international debate, especially in light of on-going discussions in 2014 and following years, while providing relevant Key Messages on Mekong issues that will feed into the Summit Declaration for the 2nd MRC Summit. However, due to the timing at a stage when countries are negotiating the post-2015 development agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to be adopted in 2015 the Statement is intended to make a contribution to influence these negotiations. The timing is also optimal in relation to the COP21 in Paris in 2015 when a global climate agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol will be negotiated.
  3. A Conference Publication that summarizes knowledge and experiences discussed and shared during the conference, to be presented at various high-level international events, including a launch at the World Water Week in Stockholm in August 2014

The substance of the Conference

In addressing the overall topic, the Conference will address the above mentioned key issues in three parallel tracks:

Track 1: Climate change adaptation
Climate change adaptation in a transboundary nexus context will touch upon adaptation to the three key climate change elements: increased variability, changes in temperature and precipitation and sea level rise of which the latter with a particular focus on river deltas. Managing of extremes is a particular challenge in this context. In developing adaptation plans integration of management levels from local through national to regional and transboundary as well as handling differences in scale at the various levels are important issues. This includes physical/biological scale differences as well as differences in how to design, manage and implement actions. Addressing climate ‘proofing’, long-term justified climate actions, no/low-regret actions and adaptation deficit are some of the key approaches countries and river basins consider.

This Track will include two sessions on “climate change adaptation managing risk and nexus security issues in a transboundray context”, one session on “climate change adaptation managing the extremes in a transboundray context” and one session on “climate change adaptation facing sea-level rise in a transboundray context”.

Track 2: Sustainable development
The sustainable development agenda is currently much focused on the sustainable Development Goals (SDG) post-2015, which include aspects such as a “dedicated water goal” covering drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); water resources management; water governance; disaster risk reduction; and wastewater, pollution and water quality. The conference will discuss some of these issues with particular focus on transboundary and climate change aspects. Another important aspect in sustainable development is the inclusion of (transboundary) water, food and energy nexus thinking, and possible targets, in other goals, such as SDGs addressing poverty, food, energy, ecosystems etc.. One of the key goals of nexus thinking in this context is livelihood improvements and poverty reduction in transboundary basins as a specific focus for water, energy and food secuirty development.

This track will include two sessions on “sustainable development agenda post-2015 in a transboundary context”, “sustainable development of transboundary aquifers”, and one session on “sustainable development looking ahead”.

Track 3: Benefits of cooperation
Benefits of transboundary cooperation have many aspects. They include benefit sharing at regional scale, the benefits of transboundary river basin organisations, considering governance, institutional and organisational aspects. Participation, dialogue and stakeholder engagement at regional scale are considered vital but face many challenges. The benefits of nexus approaches can be both three-way (water, energy and food) and two-way: water and energy, and water and food, including considerations of virtual water and trade.

This Track will include one session on “benefits of transboundary cooperation in international agreements”, one session on “benefits of transboundary cooperation - institutions”, one session on “benefits of transboundary cooperation: participation and dialogue creating political will” and one session on “transboundary cooperation - benefits and trade-offs

The structure of the Conference

Day 1: 2nd April
The Conference will start with two morning Plenary Sessions that set the stage of the Confernce through high-level Keynote Presentations and a morning Plenary Panel.
In the afternoon each Track will have two sessions, with an extended break in-between. During the break participants will have time to visit the Exhibition Area.

Day 2: 3rd April
Day 2 will start with a Plenary Session with reports from Day 1 and a Keynote by MRC on the link between the Conference and the subsequent Mekong Summit.
The parallel tracks continue with each two sessions, followed by an extended break and Exhibition visit.
The Confernce is concluded in a Final Plenary with a high-level Panel of CEOs of international basin organisations and MRC Council Members, followed by presentation of the Conference Statement and Closing.

Focus on interaction
Whilst a large number of presentations by transboundary basin organisations, international organisations and MRC programmes are offered, ample time will be provided for interaction and sharing between participants. All keynotes and presentations will be kept to a maximum of 15 minutes, allowing time for questions and answers and interactive Panel discussions in both Plenaries and Tracks.

Book of abstracts
For all Keynotes and presentations a brief abstract will be available to participants at arrival.

The Conference Statement and Publication
A Working Group of the Conference Facilitators, key MRC officials and the Chief Editor of the Publication will develop the Conference Statement as the Conference progresses. Rapporteurs in all Plenaries and Tracks will ensure that the essence of all discussions is recorded for use in the Conference Publication that will be written and reviewed in close cooperation with the Sponsoring Partners of the Conference.

The Draft Conference Programme

DRAFT Conference Programme can be found on the top menu. This Programme will be revised from time to time; the latest version be continuously uploaded to the MRC website www.mrcsummit.org/programme-conf.html

Practical information
A separate “Practical Information” document also found on this website describes the venue, hotels, travel arrangements etc.

Contact
For practical information (all participants) please contact:
Vitoon Viriyasakultorn: vitoon@mrcmekong.org
Manothone Vorabouth: manothone@mrcmekong.org

For technical information (speakers, panellists) please contact:
Hanne Bach: Hannebachclausen@gmail.com

 

Conference Date & Venue

2-3 April 2014
Rex Hotel
141 Nguyen Hue Boulevard, District 1 - Dong Khoi / Nguyen Hue, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Who Will Attend

Representatives of MRC Member Countries at the senior level, members of MRC Programmes, senior officials of MRC's Dialogue Partners, representatives of the donor community, delegates from international governmental and non-governmental organizations and other River Basin Organizations as well as academia. Overall, 250 to 300 participants are expected.