The Mekong River Commission (MRC) adopted a basin-wide water development blueprint in Ho Chi Minh City on Jan. 26.

The MRC members, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand , together with their dialogue partners, China and Myanmar, met in Vietnam’s biggest economic hub for the MRC Council’s 17th meeting and its donors’ 15 th meeting.

The MRC members officially inked the MRC’s water quality procedure to ensure water quality and prompt responses to possible risks in the basin.

They discussed the tempo of implementation of the Hua Hin Declaration on cooperation with dialogue partners and regional partners, and dealt with environmental evaluations on hydropower projects on the Mekong’s main stream and a related report delivered by Laos.

Present at the event, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai said natural resources in the Mekong basin, especially water resources, are being threatened by various challenges and difficulties, and as a result the livelihood of dozens of millions of people living in the area is affected.

He asked the MRC Council to focus on measures to promote sustainable development of water resources for effectively tackling climate change and protecting the ecosystem and lives of those living in the lower area while seeking ways to further cooperation with its strategic partners.

The leader affirmed Vietnam’s resolution, commitment, and full cooperation with other MRC members in implementing the 1995 Mekong Agreement and the Hua Hin Declaration.

He took the occasion to call on strategic partners, other stakeholders and international organisations to continue to assist the MRC in fulfilling its set tasks.

The Vietnamese leader said he was pleased to receive reports from the National Mekong Commissions of MRC member nations regarding initial outcomes they achieved in implementing the Hua Hin Declaration.

He said that MRC members have treasured positive signals from their dialogue partners, especially the level of commitment and strong cooperative activities made by China, and Myanmar's wish to join the MRC.

Hai laid stress on ASEAN leaders’ discussion at their 2010 summits concerning the promotion of sustainable development, environmental protection and adaption to climate change in the Mekong basin, and initial deployment of the Mekong-US and Mekong-Japan initiatives.

“Those outcomes are attributable to close cooperation of the MRC members, assistance from their strategic partners and the international community, as well as efforts made by the Commission’s Secretariat,” Hai noted.

Vietnamese Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Dr. Pham Khoi Nguyen described the participation of Chinese and Myanmar officials alongside the MRC members in these events as a reflection of mutual concern as well as strong optimism over the future of the Mekong basin.

Representing Vietnam , which holds the chair of the MRC Council in the 2010-2011 term, Minister Nguyen said the MRC’s cooperation with dialogue partners is being broadened with visits to China, and especially to Myanmar, to estimate its potential in joining the MRC in the future.

Nguyen affirmed that the MRC is greatly concerned about climate change, especially sea water rise and salt infiltration, for its serious effects on farming, aquaculture, and also the livelihood of people in the basin.

Accordingly, the MRC will give its top priority to mainstream climate change-related matters into plans of branches concerned and will assist MRC member governments in making plans and implementing them via its climate change adaptation initiative, Nguyen said./.