Mekong Virtual Symposium: Fostering Solutions and Collaboration for a Sustainable Mekong River Delta

Events

Mekong Virtual Symposium: Fostering Solutions and Collaboration for a Sustainable Mekong River Delta

The Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI), the Sustainable Infrastructure Partnership (SIP), the Mekong Water Data Initiative (MWDI) and Pact Thailand are pleased to announce the first Mekong Virtual Symposium: Fostering Solutions and Collaboration for a Sustainable Mekong River Delta.This event is hosted by the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs and the Office of Global Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

The symposium webinar will be on Wednesday, July 15 from 9:00 am – 10:30 am ICT on https://interactive.america.gov/iip_event/solutions-mekong-delta/. A panel of American salinity experts and Mekong delta management experts will share and exchange best practices, technologies and policies for delta management to reduce salinity and its negative impacts in the Mekong Delta region. The solution-oriented discussion will also include lessons learned from salinity intrusion in other regions. 

The symposium will be moderated by Dr. Nguyen Huong Thuy Phan from the Graduate Institute Geneva, Development Policies and Practices Executive Master Program. The panelists include: Mr. Kib Jacobson, Project Manager from the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Program, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation; Ms. Nguyen Hong Phuong, Deputy Director General of Vietnam Mekong Committee; Dr. Van Pham Dang Tri, Vice Dean, College of Environment and Natural Resources at Can Tho University; and Mr. Malcolm Wilson, Chief of the Water Resources & Compliance Group, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. 

This event is open to the public, and we encourage you to RSVP on https://www.mekongwater.org/mekong-virtual-symposium

Please contact us with any questions by sending an email to Allie Davis at DavisAL3@state.gov.

 

Overview

As part of the U.S. Vision for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific the U.S. government is committed to providing a platform that encourages information sharing, dialogue, collaboration, and stakeholder engagement for cooperative, responsible management of the Mekong River. The U.S. engagement with the Mekong region has long emphasized cooperation on water-related policy and program activities.  This engagement  builds trust among partners and stakeholders and strengthens cooperation not only on water issues but for natural resources management more broadly.

This program will engage key stakeholders about the importance of managing drought and salinity and how to mitigate the adverse effects of saltwater in delta ecosystems. The Mekong River is home to one of the most productive and biodiverse river ecosystems in the world with over 1,100 species of fish.  The Mekong River provides freshwater for these ecosystems and for agriculture, fisheries, drinking water, transportation, and energy. Every year, saltwater intrusion, or the presence of saltwater in inland rivers or groundwater, renders freshwater resources unusable for agriculture or drinking.  Saltwater intrusion in the Mekong River, and especially in the delta, is exacerbated by drought, sea level rise, and lower water levels in the river from increasing dam and infrastructure development.  

This program on managing drought and salinity builds upon existing efforts in the Mekong region to strengthen collaboration and dialogue on water issues and solutions, and supports the Mekong Water Data Initiative (MWDI).  The MWDI aims to strengthen the capacity of Lower Mekong countries to collect, analyze, and manage water and water-related data in order to reduce water-related risks and promote sustainable economic development across the water, food, energy, and environment nexus.

U.S.-based experts engage with Mekong stakeholders to identify strategies and methods to foster longer-term information sharing, collaboration, and expert consultation. This program benefits regional mid-level water, rural and urban development, energy, environment, and health ministry officials, water resource managers and utility operators, academics, and civil society in the Lower Mekong region.

About the Mekong Virtual Symposium

The Mekong Virtual Symposium is a series of virtual engagements hosted by the U.S. Department of State in collaboration with key stakeholders and partners in the Mekong region. These engagements, held approximately every two months, build upon existing relationships and capacity building efforts through the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) and the Mekong Water Data Initiative (MWDI). The MWDI aims to strengthen the capacity of Lower Mekong countries to collect, analyze, and manage water and water-related data in order to reduce water-related risks and promote sustainable economic development across the water, food, energy, and environment nexus.

Due to COVID-19 and the significant disruption of travel and in-person meetings, we need to adapt the format of our programs and engagements. The Mekong Virtual Symposium seeks to respond to these challenges and provide an ongoing and virtual platform to strengthen collaboration and build capacity in the region. Future topics will cover issues such as sand mining in the Mekong River, groundwater, the Tonle Sap Lake, plastics and marine debris in the Mekong, and other emerging challenges and opportunities.

Objectives

The objectives of the first event in the Mekong Virtual Symposium series are as follows:

1.     To foster communities of collaboration and encourage continued discussion and relationship building on key challenges and opportunities in the Mekong, particularly in light of the impacts from COVID-19 and from the drought;

2.     To respond to requests for technical assistance and information sharing on salinity, saltwater intrusion, drinking water, and delta management; and

3.     To work with key stakeholders to brainstorm solutions and opportunities for ongoing engagement to address key challenges in the Mekong River Basin and the Mekong Delta.

Outputs

The Mekong Virtual Symposium aims to identify concrete next steps to address salinity and drought issues in the Mekong Delta. These next steps may be shared in the form of a concept note and published on MekongWater.org.