The Mekong River Commission (MRC) is an intergovernmental organisation that works with the governments of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam to manage the shared water and related resources of the Mekong River for the sustainable development of the Mekong region. It is founded by the Mekong Agreement of 1995, building on previous cooperation through the Mekong Committee established in 1957.
Hence with more than 60 years of experience, the MRC serves today as a unique platform for water diplomacy and regional cooperation in which Member Countries share the benefits of common water resources. It also acts as a regional knowledge hub on water resources management that helps to inform decision-making processes based on scientific evidence. Overall, the MRC is an established organisation with a clear mandate, procedures, strategies, guidelines and knowledge products that help ensures the Mekong is utilised for the countries’ benefits and the peoples’ well-beings.
The MRC Summit is convened every four years, bringing together political leaders to address the prevailing challenges and opportunities facing the Mekong Basin. It is an opportunity for the Heads of Governments of the four MRC Member Countries to revisit the commitments made four years earlier, and agree on strategies for the future and beyond.
Two summits have been held to date – the first in 2010, hosted by the Kingdom of Thailand in Hua Hin, and the second in 2014, hosted by the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam in Ho Chi Minh City. Ministerial representatives from MRC Dialogue Partners, China and Myanmar, participated in both Summits.
The third Summit, which focuses on the theme ‘Enhancing Joint Efforts and Partnerships towards Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in the Mekong River Basin‘, will be hosted by the Kingdom of Cambodia and held on 5 April 2018 following a preparatory Ministerial Meeting on 4 April and an International Conference of stakeholders on 2-3 April 2018. The venue for all events is the Sokha Siem Reap Resort and Convention Centre, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
The International Conference is open to all partners and stakeholders, while the Summit and Ministerial meetings are by invitation only.
The Summit objectives are set as follows:
- Reaffirm highest political commitment to the 1995 Mekong Agreement and the mandate of MRC as a unique treaty-based inter-governmental river basin organisation for Mekong cooperation;
- Recognise the progress, contribution and achievements of MRC in fostering cooperation and managing transboundary issues;
- Recognise the important role that development and management of water and related resources play in the Mekong River Basin for the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and provide directions for enhancing joint efforts and partnerships for achieving the SDGs by the Mekong countries, and significant priorities and results for the MRC to achieve in the remainder of the Strategic Plan period and beyond.
The International Conference provides an opportunity for the MRC and stakeholders from the riparian countries, NGOs, academia, regional/international organisations, the private sector, and other river basin organisations to exchange perspectives, best practices and cutting-edge ideas. Leading towards the Summit, the International Conference addresses opportunities and challenges of the Mekong basin to enhance joint efforts and partnerships towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in the region. Plenary keynotes and discussions on global developments, implications and opportunities for the Mekong frame the floor for more in-depth exchanges during the parallel sessions on how to: 1) Optimize regional benefits and adverse impacts, 2) Provide water security in the face of climate change, flood and drought, 3) Enhance joint efforts with multiple stakeholder engagement and support, and 4) Strengthen Mekong cooperation and partnerships between MRC and Mekong related regional mechanisms and frameworks.