Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Keshap provided opening remarks at the 2021 Friends of the Mekong Policy Dialogue on January 12, 2021.
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.
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.
Thailand’s energy needs will hugely influence the future of the Mekong and Salween rivers, as its use of renewable energy could reduce demand for hydropower produced by its neighbors. A report published this week by the Sustainable Infrastructure Partnership (SIP) and authored by policy researchers at the Stimson Center foresees a more secure energy future…