The Partnership Policy Dialogues are a series of six multi-day conferences that will take place from 2021 – 2023 to explore solutions to key policy and sustainability challenges facing the Lower Mekong. The conferences will explore the following themes including: Connectivity, energy and infrastructure, non-traditional security, transboundary water governance, and nature-based solutions. Tying the conference experiences together are cross-cutting values of inclusivity, resilience (including climate), and collaboration. The Partnership Policy Dialogues are generously supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of State and implemented by the Stimson Center and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The East-West Center, with support from the Mekong-U.S. Partnership, released the report from the Indo-Pacific Conference on Strengthening Governance of Transboundary Rivers on February 25.
The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Energy Resources’ (ENR) Power Sector Program (PSP), in partnership with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), provided three webinars to the Electricity Regulatory Authority of Vietnam (ERAV). These webinars focused on enhancing ERAV’s regulatory capacity to oversee power market reforms and grid modernization to advance the goals of the Japan-U.S.-Mekong Power Partnership (JUMPP), Mekong-U.S. Partnership (MUSP), and the Asia Enhancing Development and Growth through Energy Initiative (Asia EDGE).
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 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.