Senior officials from the United States, Republic of Korea, and the Mekong River Commission (MRC) launched cooperation on July 20 on water data utilization and capacity building for the Mekong region. The partnership will see specialists and scientists from Korea Water Resources Corporation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and NASA provide at least six training events to professionals from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Viet Nam on various decision-support system topics, including modelling, water data utilization and knowledge transfer.
The Stimson Center and the International Union of Nature (IUCN) will host the first of six Mekong-US Partnership Track 1.5 Policy Dialogues, with the first four-day event beginning March 19 (Asia)/March 18 (U.S.). The opening plenary session will feature keynote remarks from Ambassador Atul Keshap, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs and a high-level panel. The opening plenary session is open to the public and press. RSVP to attend opening plenary: March 19, 8:30am ICT (9:30pm EDT).
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 themes that include 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 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.
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 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.
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.
The Mekong-U.S. Partnership expands cooperation between the United States and the countries of the Mekong region.