Talking ASEAN in Cambodia on “Water Resource Security in the Mekong Region”

Phnom Penh, Cambodia 11 March 2016

The Habibie Center and The Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace (CICP) held a Talking ASEAN public dialogue on “Water Resource Security in the Mekong Region”. This particular Talking ASEAN featured as resource persons H.E. Watt Botkosal (Deputy Secretary General of the Cambodian National Mekong Committee),  H.E. Ambassador Pou Sothirak (Executive Director, Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace), Dr. Chheang Vanarith (Former Executive Director of CICP, Co-Founder and Chairman of Cambodian Institute for Strategic Studies and Consultant for Southeast Asia Program for the Nippon Foundation in Singapore), and Dr. Mak Sithirith (PhD in Geography (NUS in Singapore) and Post-doc in Water Governance & Climate Change (UNESCO-IHE, The Netherlands)) with Pou Sovachana (Deputy Director in Charge of Research and Publication, Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace) moderating.

To begin Talking ASEAN, the public dialogue heard opening remarks from HRH Prince Somdech Norodom Sirivudh (Founder and Chairman, Board of Directors, Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace) and A Ibrahim Almuttaqi (Head, ASEAN Studies Program, The Habibie Center). The objectives of this Talking ASEAN were to:  (1) Identify the threats and potentials posed by water resource management both from a security and non-security aspect; (2) Discuss the current state of efforts at managing water resource security at the national and regional level; (3) Promote multi-stakeholder dialogue on trans-boundary water resources management and strengthen regional networks whose tasks are to promote greater collaboration in the Mekong region; (4) Discuss how ASEAN can promote greater management of water resource security at the regional, national, and sub-national level, particularly the Mekong River Commission in putting in place good governance practice on the Mekong River; and (5) Provide relevant recommendations on how to manage water resource in the Mekong River area in order to promote sustainable development and conflict free environment.

First to present was H.E. Watt Botkosal who spoke on the topic of “Water Security: National and Regional Issues and Challenges in the Context of Lower Mekong River Basin.” H.E. Watt Botkosal shared his views on water security concepts and what commitments the Cambodian Government and the Mekong River Commission (MRC) have been made to promote the sustainability of water resource management. This was followed by the presentation from H.E Ambassador Pou Sothirak on “Hydropower Dams on the Mainstream Mekong River: Impacts on Human Security.” H.E Ambassador Pou Sothirak’ presentation focused on the negative impact of the development of hydropower on the Mekong River and reflected on the importance of the Mekong River to the population whose lives depend on it.

Third to speak was Dr. Chheang Vannarith who presented on “Mekong River Governance and ASEAN Community Building.” His presentation argued on the importance of including Mekong River governance in the post-2015 ASEAN Community building. Last to speak was Dr. Mak Sithirith on the topic of “Damming the Mekong Tributaries: Water Security and the MRC 1995 Agreement.” In his presentation, Dr. Mak Sithirith addressed the question of how can the governance of trans-boundary rivers be operationalized to deal with national water security concerns.

Among the key recommendations that emerged from the Talking ASEAN public dialogue were: (1) the need to specifically mention water resource security in the ASEAN Vision 2025; (2) to recognize that water resource security was a matter of national survival for countries like Cambodia; and (3) for governments along the Mekong River to find the right balance between economic development and sustainability of water resources.

To download a copy of the Discussion Report, click here

11 March 2016

Talking ASEAN in Cambodia on “Water Resource Security in the Mekong Region”

The Habibie Center and The Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace (CICP) held a Talking ASEAN public dialogue on “Water Resource Security in the Mekong Region”.

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