World leaders pledge support for responsible growth in Mekong regionChristy Owen · August 17, 2015
At a meeting of the Lower Mekong Initiative in Malaysia this month, leaders from six nations agreed that as the region transforms, short-term growth must not come at the expense of long-term sustainability. The foreign ministers of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam – along with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry – pledged to work together to examine and mitigate social and environmental impacts of development.
Pact, which took part in drafting the statement signed by the ministers, applauds this significant step forward. Through our Mekong Partnership for the Environment (MPE) program, we work closely with government, civil society and the private sector for such stewardship. This clear demonstration of support from the highest levels is critically important to protecting the Mekong region’s fragile ecosystems and the livelihoods of local communities.
With the Lower Mekong region projected to receive billions of dollars in infrastructure investments in the coming years in areas including mining, transportation, energy and agriculture, now is a key time to plan for sustainability. The effective use of environmental impact assessments, as called for in the ministers’ statement, is vital.
“Acknowledging that these investments can undermine sustainable development goals, the LMI members will consider social and environmental consequences, including use of environmental impact assessments and resulting mitigation and management plans, to increase protection and sustainability for those investments,” the statement says.
It continues, “We affirm our commitment to strengthen partnerships in the pursuit of the shared vision of an integrated, harmonious and prosperous region characterized by steady, equitable economic growth that is inclusive of all stakeholders, social progress and environmental sustainability.”
Pact shares this vision.
Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, our MPE program is strengthening partnerships, promoting meaningful participation and increasing access to information to ensure proper planning to avoid negative social, environmental and economic consequences of new investment projects. One way we are doing this is with MPE’s regional technical working group on environmental impact assessment, which includes representatives from government and civil society from all five Lower Mekong countries.
With our many partners, we are supporting shared solutions for a Mekong region where social equity and environmental sustainability provide the foundation for regional prosperity.
Pact is proud to be a part of these important efforts, and we are thrilled that regional and world leaders share in this commitment.