The MRC Council yesterday welcomed the appointment of Dr. Anoulak Kittikhoun of Lao nationality as the 3rd Riparian CEO of the MRC Secretariat for the 2022–2024 tenure. He is the first Lao national to be appointed to the position.
The cumulative impacts of climate change, overfishing and hydropower dam development are having detrimental impacts on the many people who rely on the Mekong. The reports detail effects ranging from loss of family income due to declining fish catch numbers and increased damage caused by flooding and water infrastructure development, to gender inequality that disproportionately affects women’s ability to gain employment.
The Mekong River Commission (MRC) Council has agreed on a strategy for joint hydroelectric power development to reduce environmental impacts on member countries.
“This groundbreaking initiative is the first of its kind, anywhere in the world, to provide guidance on advancing and protecting children’s rights to a healthy environment,” said Cynthia Veliko, the UN Human Rights South-East Asia Regional Representative in Bangkok. “Ensuring these fundamental rights is not just a commitment to a healthier future for the world’s children, but to a more sustainable future for our planet and future generations. We hope the Principles and Policy Guidance will be used as a basis for an expanded ASEAN commitment to children’s rights to a healthy environment in the region,” Veliko said.
“Cambodia’s commitment is not enough because the Mekong crosses many countries in Asia – Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and China. So, Mekong sub-region members should jointly make the commitment for all to benefit,” said Mak Bunthoeurn, Water Governance Network coordinator of NGO Forum on Cambodia.
In 2020 alone, the Greater Mekong countries, excluding China, lost 1.1 million hectares (2.7 million acres) of forest. That’s an area about seven times the size of Bangkok, Thailand’s capital city.
“This additional funding will help the MRC establish its Core River Monitoring Network in the Mekong Region, an essential step towards getting more timely data and information about impacts of water infrastructure projects not only on the Mekong mainstream but also tributaries. We hope the fund will contribute to informed decisions over the development and responsible management of water resources as well as boosting the MRC’s ability to manage flood and drought risks more effectively.”
None of the Mekong giant catfish, in this and other dams in Thailand, are native. They were introduced by the Fisheries Department’s artificial breeding programme, using fry of the wild-caught and endangered Mekong giant catfish.\
To date, there are 33 completed, ongoing and approved MKCF projects, including five each in Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam.