The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), in partnership with American Seed Trade and Asia and Pacific Seed Associations, held the Lower Mekong Regional Seed Workshop, June 8-10, 2021. The “Strengthening Sustainable Seed System for the Lower Mekong Countries” workshop was conducted by the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) with technical expertise from USDA Agriculture Marketing Service. Over 70 high-ranking country representatives from the Public Seed Offices of, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia along with senior representatives from international seed organizations including OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), ISTA (International Seed Testing Association), and UPOV (International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants) participated. Key representatives provided updates on progress and challenges in seed trade in their countries focusing on capacities, and rules-and science-based policy environments with aim to foster cooperation and harmonization of seed policies among Lower Mekong Countries (LMCs), consistent with practices and approaches in the United States.
Mekong-U.S. Partnership Virtual Workshop will be organized by ‘The Asia and Pacific Seed Association’ on 8- 10 June 2021 as a virtual workshop. The theme would be "Strengthening Sustainable Seed System for the Lower Mekong Countries”. This Activity is a component of the Seed Trade Capacity Building Project in the Lower Mekong Region funded under the Mekong-U.S. Partnership (MUSP), formerly known as Lower Mekong Initiative. Following the successful first Mekong Regional workshop on seeds on 2018, USDA Foreign Agricultural Service is inviting Country Representative from the Seed Offices of Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia to attend the Lower Mekong Seed Regional Workshop.
During this time Seed Trade Capacity Building in the Lower Mekong Progress Report will be presented by Government official delegations’ representative on each topic (Plant variety protection, seed lab accreditation, seed certification and phyto-sanitary regulation). Discussion groups will be organized to review on the priority and the type of capacity building training is needed in the region and in its respective country.<
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Keshap provided opening remarks at the 2021 Friends of the Mekong Policy Dialogue on January 12, 2021.
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 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.
Pact Thailand is organizing the second Mekong Virtual Symposium: An Uncertain Future: Working Towards a Thriving Tonle Sap as part of the Sustainable Infrastructure Partnership (SIP). This event is open to the public, and interested participants are encouraged to RSVP on https://www.mekongwater.org/mekong-virtual-symposium.
The Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace (CICP) organized a virtual conference on "Sustainable Development and the Future of the Mekong" on 26-27 October 2020. Organized in response to the shifting geopolitical dynamics that pose new challenges such as the growth of debt dependency, disproportionate control of upstream dams, and the erosion of existing river governance, the conference featured four panels examining the future of the Mekong River and the environmental and sustainable development challenges confronting the region.
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.