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Vietnam proposes transboundary water-resources management policy

Nam Chi

At the November 20 session of the 24th APEC Summit, a high-ranking leader suggested developing agriculture in a sustainable manner in tandem with the effective use of natural resources, including cross-border management of water resources.

Dr Dao Trong Tu, a renowned expert on river networks, said suggesting a cooperation policy in water resources management is what Vietnam needs to do.

“Countries all need to develop, while water is the basis for development,” he said.

Located on the lower course of large rivers, Vietnam’s water resources are facing challenges.

Sixty three percent of water volume on the river systems in Vietnam is from outside the Vietnamese territory, while only 37 percent is created inside the territory. In the Mekong River Delta, 89 percent of water volume comes from outside, while the delta only has 5 percent of total volume of water.

Though countries have agreements on building bilateral and multilateral cooperation, Vietnam still has few advantages in negotiations for international water use due to its position in the lower course of the river.

Since the water supply is threatened, it is necessary to think of different solutions to ensure water resources for the future. And one of the ways is to call for cooperation among the countries in the upper course to manage and develop water resources.

At forums like APEC, Vietnam not only needs to make suggestions, but also give detailed programs and solutions. There are four aspects – social, economic, political and environmental sustainability — which need thorough analysis.

The cooperation among the countries on the Mekong River has been maintained for 50 years. However, new matters have arisen and Vietnam still faces challenges from countries in the upper course.

Meanwhile, China has not applied any cooperation policy with other countries on issues related to the Red and Mekong rivers.

Tu said he had been part of many delegations sent by the government to China to seek the best way to exchange information. However, this is a difficult issue.

The expert said Vietnam has very little or no data from countries in the upper course of the Red and Mekong rivers.

As for Red River, Vietnam maintains contacts with China to exchange information, but on a very limited scope.

As for the Mekong River, the Mekong River Commission (MRC) includes four member countries. However, the information is still very limited.