U.S. Assistant Secretary of State David Stilwell published an article titled "Why the Mekong Region Matters to the United States, ASEAN, and the Indo-Pacific" in the Cambodia Institute for Cooperation and Peace (CICP) Journal of Greater Mekong Studies.
On January 12, the United States and Vietnam co-hosted the first Friends of the Mekong Policy Dialogue under the new Mekong-U.S. Partnership. In his remarks, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Ambassador Atul Keshap emphasized that the United States is committed to a secure, open, and prosperous Mekong region, highlighting the importance of this region to ASEAN centrality and to the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. The 17 participating countries and institutions under the Mekong-U.S. Partnership and the Friends of the Mekong offered recommendations on sustainable infrastructure development and connectivity; human resource development and building the foundations for a Mekong digital economy; sustainable water, natural resource management, and environmental protection; and COVID response and regional collaboration on health security.
Launched on December 15, 2020, the Mekong Dam Monitor (MDM) is the region's premier water monitoring tool. This monitor is open-source and freely available for users on the Mekong Water Data Initiative (MWDI) website - MekongWater.org. The Mekong Dam Monitor features virtual dam and reservoir gauges that use remote sensing, satellite imagery, and GIS analysis to provide weekly reports about environmental indicators in the Mekong Basin. The Stimson Center's Southeast Asia Program and Eyes on Earth, Inc. collaborative partnership developed the MDM with funding support from the Mekong-U.S. Partnership. This publicly available tool will significantly expand the water data available in the region, putting information into the hands of the people who need it the most so they can make informed decisions affecting livelihoods and regional security.
Now more than ever, the United States sees the importance of a partnership with the Mekong Region. Perhaps the best example of that is the new Mekong-U.S. Partnership, which was launched in 2020 as a successor to the Lower Mekong Initiative. This partnership – with Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the ASEAN Secretariat – aims to improve lives in the Mekong Region by spurring economic growth, improving natural resource management, and tackling transnational crime. “We are open to working with all partners who shared our principled, transparent approach,” said Melissa A. Brown, Head of the U.S. Mission to ASEAN. Watch this video to learn more:
The United States and Singapore co-hosted the 2020 Third Country Training Program (TCTP) Cybersecurity Workshop as a series of virtual events on October 26 and 27 and November 2 and 3. This cybersecurity course was fully subscribed with 30 participants from all ASEAN countries as well as Timor-Leste and the ASEAN Secretariat. It covered a broad range of cyber policy topics including the importance of whole-of-government cyber coordination, frameworks and best practices for a risk-based approach to cybersecurity, and the framework of responsible state behavior in cyberspace. The participants identified key themes and lessons to bring back to their home countries for implementation, including raising public awareness on cybersecurity, strengthening network defenses against cybersecurity threats, and creating public-private partnerships to effectively respond to and manage cyber incidents.
Announced by Vice President Pence two years ago, the Indo-Pacific Transparency Initiative includes more than $1 billion in programs that promote civil society, rule of law, and transparent and accountable governance across the region.
The Transparency Initiative encompasses over 200 programs developed by a range of U.S. government agencies focused on anti-corruption and fiscal transparency, democracy assistance, youth and emerging leader development, media and internet freedom, and protecting fundamental freedoms and human rights.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Japan and Korea Marc Knapper and Republic of Korea Director-General for North American Affairs Ko Yunju met in Seoul on November 13. They discussed the release of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy-ROK New Southern Policy Joint Fact Sheet and our countries’ enduring commitment to creating a safe, prosperous, and dynamic Indo-Pacific region based on the principles of openness, inclusiveness, transparency, respect for international law, and ASEAN centrality.
The U.S. Department of State and the Sustainable Infrastructure Partnership are pleased to announce the second Mekong Virtual Symposium. As part of the U.S. Vision for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific, the U.S. government is committed to providing a platform that encourages information sharing, dialogue, collaboration, and stakeholder engagement for cooperative, responsible management of the Mekong River. The U.S. engagement in the Mekong region has long supported transparent, open cooperation for sustainable management of the river.
This program will engage key stakeholders on the range of issues facing the Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia: fishing and fish migration, plastics, floods and droughts, sediment, and dam impacts. As drought and dams have led the Mekong’s flow reversal to happen later and later each year, the Tonle Sap now faces an uncertain future.
Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell provided opening remarks at the inaugural Indo-Pacific Conference on Strengthening Governance of Transboundary Rivers on October 15. U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Michael DeSombre offered closing remarks. The conference, organized in partnership with the East-West Center, convened policy-makers, academics, members of civil society, and other transboundary river stakeholders from across the Indo-Pacific region to share best practices related to the sustainable development and cooperative management of transboundary rivers.
The United States Department of State, in partnership with the East-West Center, will host a virtual Indo-Pacific Conference on Strengthening Transboundary Rivers Governance on October 15-16. The invitation-only conference brings together practitioners, experts, and national and civil society representatives to focus on Enhancing Transparency, Partnerships & Stakeholder Engagement. This event includes sessions on "Transparency and Partnerships in Transboundary River Governance," "Negotiating Transboundary River Governance," "Stakeholder Engagement in Transboundary River Governance," and "Next Steps for Strengthening Governance of Transboundary Rivers." Assistant Secretary David Stilwell and U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Michael DeSombre will give opening and closing remarks, respectively.
Mark your calendars for July 14 from 10:00 PM - 11:30 PM EDT for the Fostering Solutions and Collaboration for a Sustainable Mekong River Delta webinar, where global and regional experts will discuss the threats to the Mekong River Delta including increasing saltwater intrusion and drought. The Mekong River is home to one of the most productive and biodiverse…