Mekong River Commission (MRC)

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The governments of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Viet Nam came to an agreement in 1995 that resulted in the creation of the Mekong River Commission (MRC).

The four nations recognized a shared interest in managing their shared water resources and maximizing the economic potential of the Mekong River, which led to the creation of the Agreement on the Cooperation for the Sustainable Development of the Mekong River Basin. The agreement, which was signed on 5 April 1995, gave the organization a new mandate: “to cooperate in all fields of sustainable development, utilisation, management and conservation of the water and related resources of the Mekong River Basin.”

The organization formerly known as the Mekong Committee, which was founded in 1957 as the Committee for Coordination of Investigations of the Lower Mekong Basin, underwent a name change as a result of the agreement.

Since the 1995 Agreement, the Mekong River Commission (MRC) has started a process to guarantee “reasonable and equitable use” of the Mekong River System. This process involves National Mekong Committees in each nation that work collaboratively to design water usage policies. The Basin Development Plan, the framework for the MRC’s Integrated Water Resources Development Programme, is a combined basin-wide planning process with the four countries. The MRC also manages fisheries, encourages safe navigation, promotes irrigated agriculture, manages watersheds, monitors the environment, manages floods, and looks into hydropower prospects.

The People’s Republic of China and the Union of Myanmar, the two higher states of the Mekong River Basin, are the MRC’s conversation partners.

Contributions from the four member nations and aid donors are used to support the MRC. An annual conference of the Donor Consultative Group serves as the formal forum for consultation with the donor community.

  • When the newly independent countries of Cambodia, Laos, and Viet Nam took their places on the international scene in the middle of the 20th century with the official signing of the Geneva Accords, the history of Mekong cooperation began.
  • Studies of the Mekong by the US Bureau for Reclamation and the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East (ECAFE) sparked interest in the Lower Mekong countries and at the newly established ECAFE for a grand scheme to develop what was thought of as one of the great ‘untamed rivers’ of the world.
  • No international river organization had previously tried to assume such comprehensive duties for funding, building, managing, and maintaining projects on an international river.
  • The “Mekong Project” was the biggest development initiative the newly formed United Nations organization had ever engaged on.
  • There were no precedents to use when the Mekong Committee started its work. ECAFE and the UN Development Agency provided advice and assistance to the Committee in its early years.
  • Late in the 1970s, Mekong Committee meetings were postponed due to the lack of stability in the region. The Interim Mekong Committee was established in 1977 as a result of Lao PDR, Thailand, and Viet Nam adopting a new law in reaction to Cambodia’s absence.
  • Long-lasting negotiations that eventually resulted in the Mekong Committee’s reformation through the 1995 Agreement on the Cooperation for the Sustainable Development of the Mekong River Basin started when Cambodia officially requested readmission in 1991.
The Mekong Programme

In accordance with the organization’s two primary priority areas for the duration of this Strategic Plan, the MRC Goals for 2011–2015 are as follows:

In order to address the immediate needs and priorities for the integrated management of water and related resources in the Mekong River Basin toward 2030, support is needed for the execution of the IWRM-based Basin Development Strategy; and

Moving closer to implementing the MRC key functions and increasing Member Country involvement in carrying them out.

The Mekong Project

A regional cooperation program for the sustainable development of water and related resources in the Mekong Basin, the MRC’s Mekong Programme.

Its objective is to increase the efficiency with which water and related resources are used in order to reduce poverty and save the environment. The MRC believes that a well-balanced, peaceful, equitable, and sustainable development process can be facilitated for the mutual benefit of all Mekong riparian countries using the idea of integrated water resources management (IWRM).

The MRC wants to promote advances and investments that are well-balanced and well-coordinated in the following areas:

  • Management of drought and irrigation
  • Navigation
  • Hydropower
  • Flood control
  • Fisheries
  • Managed watershed
  • Environment
  • Tourism

Fighting poverty and improving people’s welfare in the area depends on using the economic potential of the Mekong River system for food production, home use, power generation, transportation, and tourism. MRC is attempting to identify the optimal course for the region’s long-term development through collaboration and planning.

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