On the sidelines of the 47th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, the seventh Lower Mekong Initiative Ministerial Meeting and the fourth meeting of Friends of Lower Mekong Meeting were took place under the chairmanship maintenance of Minister of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar and United States Secretary of State. Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affair Minister Pham Binh Minh led Vietnam to attend the conferences.

With the theme “Building a sustainable future for the Mekong region in the context of security for food – water – energy and supporting formation of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015”, LMI conference focused on discussing the opportunities and challenges for the sustainable development of the Mekong basin and propose several specific cooperative measures to narrow the development gap and promote regional economic integration towards ASEAN community in 2015. All ministers agreed that, after 5 years since its inception, LMI has become an effective cooperation mechanism between the United States and the Lower Mekong countries to cope with the development challenges through six pillars of cooperation in agriculture and food security, connectivity, education, energy security, environment, water and health. Joint Declaration of the Conference announced a new partnership program LMI in the next 5 years, which focuses on the deployment of six key projects including the Connect Mekong, Smart Infrastructure for the Mekong, Connecting Mekong through Education and Training, Communication Skills Training for Leadership, Entrepreneurship Center for Women, and Prevention of Infectious Diseases.

Ministers agreed to continue policy dialogue related to sustainable regional development, while enhancing coordination and collaboration with the Initiative of ASEAN Integration (IAI). The conference officially launched the Eminent Expert Persons Group (EEPG), which is responsible for researching and recommending measures to promote the sustainable development of the Mekong Basin, reporting to the senior officials and the Ministries of head of LMI.

Friends of the Lower Mekong (FLM) Conference agreed to strengthen regional cooperation and connection, sustainable management of water resources and environmental protection of the Mekong basin. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to building partnerships at all levels of local, transnational, regional and across continents to effectively respond to the challenges and development issues of water in the Mekong region. The conference affirmed the priority of processing challenges in ensuring water security, energy and food into growth opportunities and sustainable development for the whole sub-regions. Many development partners within and outside the region such as the EU, Australia, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank… committed to continue supporting for the Mekong countries in the sustainable management of water resources, building intelligent infrastructure, clean energy, agriculture, climate change adaptation, environmental impact assessment… The EU decide to triple aid for the Mekong countries over the period 2014-2020. The conference agreed to hold a special FLM meeting at the vice-ministerial level on sustainable development in Laos in late 2014 or early 2015.

Speaking at the conference, Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh affirmed that Vietnam attaches special importance and priority of efforts for sustainable development and efficient use of water resources of the Mekong River in the context of climate change fiercely and look forward to continuing close collaboration with the Mekong countries and development partners in this effort. Deputy Prime Minister proposed to further strengthen cooperation and dialogue in the framework of LMI and FLM, primarily to support the development of socio-economic, enhancing connectivity, narrowing the development gap with ASEAN and supporting international Mekong River Commission to enhance research capacity and forecast the impact of dams on the Mekong mainstream.

Source: Human Rights Watch

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