Mekong Basin issues need political will, activists say

Mekong Basin issues need political will, activists say

Pianporn: urges local input
Pianporn: urges local input

Activists are asking Mekong governments to show political will in tackling Mekong environmental issues and ensure water security in the region, as the first ever Water Security Dialogue is held by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and the Mekong River Commission (MRC).

The two-day dialogue, Thursday and Friday, will be hosted by the MRC Secretariat, in cooperation with the Asean Secretariat, with designated meeting hubs in Mekong countries. Delegates from other Asean countries will participate online due to Covid restrictions.

Pianporn Deetes, Regional Campaigns and Communications Director of the International Rivers Southeast Asia Programme, said the dialogue is a good initiative to start talking about water security in the region, but political will is needed to make progress.

"From upriver in China down to the delta in Vietnam, throughout the course of the Mekong River, people are suffering from adverse impacts of hydropower dam projects. I hope the governments of Mekong countries will have courage to discuss this problem and find a substantial solution," she said. Ms Pianporn said she noticed there is no representative from local communities at the meeting, which was a shame, as local input is needed.

According to MRC, the dialogue will include panel discussions among officials, technical experts, and partners from the Mekong and wider Asean region. They will discuss water scarcity, water pollution, and water-related disaster risks, such as flood and drought.

Over 100 participants from Asean member states, development partners, and regional and international organisations are expected to join the discussion.

The first-of-its kind Asean–MRC Water Security Dialogue is expected to become a biennial event, with the next scheduled for 2023.

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