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Mekong commission backs Laos’ green initiative

Mekong commission backs Laos’ green initiative

TUESDAY, May 15, 2018

THE MEKONG River Commission (MRC) has expressed strong support for Laos over its green growth strategy, adding that the inter-governmental organisation is ready to share its resources to ensure this initiative is sustainable.

“Green growth is obviously a pathway to sustainable development and I’m pleased to see the Lao PDR embark on a greener economy and development as it’s important to avoid the ‘grow now and clean up later’ way of doing things,” MRC CEO Pham Tuan Phan said last week.
The top management of the MRC Secretariat, which serves as a water diplomacy and knowledge hub, delivered this recommendation while attending a high level meeting at the Crowne Plaza in Vientiane on May 10 to discuss the development of the Lao National Green Growth Strategy, according to an MRC media release. Economists, representatives ofthe Lao government, World Bank, the Green Growth Institute and international organisations in Laos attended the meeting to comment onthe strategy draft. The Lao government expects to endorse this strategy later this year.
According to Pham, over the past years, the MRC has invested in strategies and conducted studies that the Lao government and regional policy makers can use as references when initiating investment policies designed to bring more sustainable development to the mighty river. One of the major studies undertaken by the MRC is the Council Study known as the Study onSustainable Management and Development of the Mekong River including the Impacts of Mainstream Hydropower Projects.
The study provided a scientific assessment of the environmental, social and economic costs and benefits of existing and planned water resource developments in the lower Mekong basin to inform decision makers.
The key finding of the study highlights the possible positive and negative impacts of hydropower projects that project developers and host countries need to take into consideration when initiating any project on the Mekong River. Pham said the study findings include both regional and local perspectives that can guide MRC member countries in developing the Mekong’s shared resources in a more sustainable manner in the face of climate change and rapid developments. From this perspective, he strongly encourages Laos to use the MRC’s resources.
“I highly encourage the Lao government as well as the World Bank and Global Green Growth Institute who finance the strategy development to consult and take stock of these strategies and studies, especially those findings from our Council Study when finalising this draft strategy,” he said.
The MRC Secretariat has been active in disseminating the key findings of the study at various platforms since December 2017 and recently at international conferences ahead of the 3rd MRC Summit in Siem Reap, Cambodia. These findings are now being integrated into the MRC knowledge base to enhance the basin development planning process, including the update of the MRC sustainable hydropower strategy, according to the MRC.