By Chea Vannak
Phnom Penh, June 26, 2018
The Mekong River Commission and the Japan International Cooperation Agency have launched a joint study on forest conservation and river basin management in the lower Mekong aimed at improving management and environmental conservation of the area.
The study was launched last Friday at a meeting in Laos where the MRC and JICA signed the project’s memorandum of cooperation in the presence of 40 officials from both sides.
The project will cover five Mekong countries including Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam and will finish in March 2019.
Financed by the Japanese government, the project aims to determine forest cover in the Mekong basin and to contribute to environmental conservation of the area.
“The project allows us to gauge the current state of forest cover and conservation in our member states and Myanmar and provide countermeasures in terms of policy recommendations for quality basin-wide management for forest preservation,” MRC CEO Pham Tuan Phan said.
JICA senior deputy director-general Morita Takahiro said the project is a crucial mission to strike the right balance between development and nature conservation to achieve sustainable development for the basin.
“We will pool our knowledge, technology and resources to assist the MRC in finding solutions to environmental problems facing the basin today,” he said.
Eang Sophalleth, spokesman at the Ministry of Environment, applauded the project.
“We always support projects which focus on environmental conservation and we welcome and are ready for the JICA project on environmental conservation,” he said.
The project was an initiative of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who expressed his intention at the 8th Mekong-Japan Summit in Vientiane in September 2016 to start a study to contribute to environmental conservation, in particular the protection of forest resources in the Mekong River basin.
Early this year, the MRC also launched two joint projects between Cambodia and Laos, and Cambodia and Thailand, to better manage the Mekong basin resources and address flood and drought issues.