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Posts Tagged ‘Lower Mekong Ministerial’

There were two ministerial events today involving Lower Mekong Initiatives and Friends.  Here are her remarks at both.

Remarks From the Fifth Lower Mekong Initiative Ministerial

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Peace Palace
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
July 13, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: (In progress.) The United States is proud of the work we are doing together in the LMI. It is a key component of our ongoing cooperation with ASEAN and efforts to spur regional integration and close the development gap. It’s also a key component of our larger strategy in Asia, where we are working with partners to expand security, promote economic development, and strengthen people-to-people ties.

We created this forum three and a half years ago because we saw great potential in coming together to solve challenges in health, infrastructure, the environment, and education. And we saw an opportunity to create an action-oriented group that is inclusive but also flexible. So far, through the LMI, we’ve improved the way we measure the effects of climate change, started sharing best practices in the management of great rivers like the Mekong, expanded opportunities for workers in key areas to learn English, just to name a few areas of collaboration.

Today we are taking several steps that build on the work we’ve already done together.

First, because we recognize that our efforts must continue to evolve if we are going to advance the aspirations of our people, we are reorganizing some of our work.

Vietnam will co-chair a strengthened Pillar on Environment and Water which will include a broader focus on sanitation, flood management, urban water supplies, and related issues.

Our colleagues from Nay Pyi Taw will co-chair a new Agriculture and Food Security Pillar which will further our collective efforts to sustain food security for people throughout the Mekong region.

And in line with one of ASEAN’s top priorities, we are building a Connectivity Pillar co-chaired by Laos which will focus not only on how best to build roads and power lines, but also how to close the so-called digital divide and strengthen ties among our institutions and people.

Second, we have begun discussions about establishing a group of outside independent experts who could offer fresh thinking on subregional integration, sustainable development, economic competitiveness, and other areas of mutual interest.

And finally, I am delighted to announce a new, long-term commitment by the United States to support the Lower Mekong Initiative. As part of our Asia Pacific Security Engagement Initiative, we are launching LMI 2020. As the name implies, it is a multiyear vision for how the United States can help each of our partners together as well as individually to build a more prosperous region through each of the LMI pillars.

For example, as part of LMI 2020, we will support a new partnership between the Government of Vietnam and Harvard University to train the region’s next generation of public policy experts and leaders in key areas. Other efforts under LMI 2020 will ramp up the fight against malaria and climate change. Initially, we will seek to invest $50 million in LMI 2020 over the next three years. This is in addition to the bilateral support we already provide each of the countries here around the table.

Now, I want to be very clear. We think this initiative has great potential, but it can only be successful if we have the full participation of all the partners, because we need your ideas and we need your very constructive and candid dialogue with us. So we are developing an LMI coordinating network, and as the first step we will set up a coordination hub at the USAID Mission in Bangkok. And it’s time to move the center of LMI closer to the Mekong River so that we can enhance cooperation and connectivity.

LMI 2020 also touches on the serious questions of building dams along the main stem of the Mekong. And I want to thank the Foreign Minister from Lao PDR for the excellent meetings we had when I was just there with your government. In the past, I have urged partner countries to pause on any considerations to build new dams until everyone could fully assess their impact. Some studies have explored the benefits of generating electricity, but questions – serious questions – remain about the effects on fisheries, agriculture, livelihoods, environment, and health.

So through LMI 2020, we are prepared to commit up to $1 million, along with other donors, to support studies on these unanswered questions. We will also help the Mekong River Commission build up its technical capacity through an additional $2 million grant for its work on sustainable fisheries and rural livelihoods.

Later today, I will also raise the issue of dams with the Friends of the Lower Mekong, because other donors can and should support this work as well.

So I hope the actions that I’ve described today will be further evidence of American commitment to the people of this region. We’re proud to be your partners, enduring partners as you promote security and prosperity, and we look forward to many years of working together.

Now I would like to ask the Assistant Administrator from USAID Nisha Biswal to make a few remarks.

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Remarks at the Second Friends of the Lower Mekong Ministerial

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Peace Palace
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
July 13, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much for being here for the Friends of the Lower Mekong meeting, and let me begin by thanking our host, the Government of Cambodia. Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, thank you so much. There are many familiar faces from last year’s meeting as well as a few new ones. I’d like to welcome our colleagues from the nonprofit organizations and academic institutions who are joining us for the first time this year. I know we will benefit from your insights. And as I said in the ministerial meeting of the Lower Mekong Initiative just a few minutes ago, we’re very pleased to have our latest new member, and we are looking forward to working with the officials in Nay Pyi Taw on so many of these important initiatives. And we’re pleased that the Foreign Minister could be with us.

We are here because each of us supports the evolution of a strong ASEAN as the anchor for stability and prosperity in the Asia Pacific. And as ASEAN itself has made clear, in order to reach that goal, we need to narrow the development gap among member-states and improve regional integration throughout the Mekong subregion. So when our fellow members of the Lower Mekong Initiative came to us and suggested creating a new group that would coordinate the efforts of many donors and institutions who provide assistance in this region, we were eager to help. After all, the development community has been talking for years about how we need to improve donor coordination and support country ownership of assistance programs. In creating the Friends of the Lower Mekong, we saw an opportunity to show that we are backing up our word with action.

For the United States, the Friends of the Lower Mekong is just one part of our long-term commitment to the region. I announced earlier today that we are launching a series of new programs which we’re calling LMI 2020 that will support each of the initiative’s pillars. Initially, we seek to invest $50 million over three years in LMI 2020, and that is in addition to the bilateral assistance we already provide. This funding will help train the region’s next generation of public policy experts and leaders, ramp up the fight against malaria, promote innovation and sound policies for sustainable infrastructure, focus on many of the problems that the nations represented here have brought to our attention.

Now, of course, each of the governments and organizations around the table could tell a similar story about your contributions. And we think in order to have maximum impact, we need to coordinate all of our efforts. And the question we face is how to do that most effectively. Today I want to propose a two-track structure for the Friends of the Lower Mekong that will help us make the most of our efforts.

One track would be a dialogue among partner countries, aid agencies, NGOs, and the multilateral development institutions, building on the principles that were adopted in Paris, Accra, and Busan. We would expand information sharing, support efforts to strengthen country ownership, and encourage emerging donors to commit to delivering results with accountability and transparency.

The other track would consist of the dialogues we were already having at the level of senior officials and ministers. Our respective donor agencies would also be party to those discussions, and the agenda could include human security challenges that cross national boundaries, such as the impact of hydropower, development, environmental degradation, climate change, health, infrastructure development, trafficking in drugs and human beings, and migration.

Today I would ask the FLM ministers to endorse these two tracks as steps we will take to better results for the people of the region.

And finally, I would like to emphasize the importance of supporting the Mekong River Commission. The Mekong River Basin is one of the world’s most productive ecosystems. It’s really a miracle of the way it operates in this region. Millions – tens, hundreds of millions of people – depend directly or indirectly on it for their livelihoods. But it is also extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change and infrastructure development. That’s why it’s important that national and regional strategies be based on sound scientific assessments of any impact that could be forthcoming.

The United States believes that the Mekong River Commission is the best forum for facilitating these assessments. Earlier today I announced we are prepared to commit up to $1 million to support the commission studies on sustainable management and development of the Mekong River which will look at, among other things, the potential impact of future dams on the main stem of the river. I had an excellent series of discussions with the Government of Lao PDR, and I thank the Minister, the Prime Minister for those discussions.

And we have twinned the Mekong River Commission with the Mississippi River Commission, because I’ll be very honest with you; we made a lot of mistakes. Just to be very blunt about it, we started more than a hundred years ago, so we’ve learned some hard lessons about what happens when you make certain infrastructure decisions. And I think that we all can contribute to helping the nations of the Mekong region avoid the mistakes that we and others made. And I think it’s important that the Friends of the Lower Mekong support these studies and support the Mekong River Commission.

Because after all, our ultimate goal is to support the countries of this region as you work to provide your people with a better future. And that does include good schools, health care, electricity, economic opportunity, connectivity. And if we work together, I believe that we can contribute to the extraordinary progress we see taking place here in the Lower Mekong Region.

So thank you all for being with us, and thank you for being committed to this important effort.

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The glamorous Secretary of State spent another busy day today in Bali. Hopping from a bilateral with the Chinese foreign minister to the ASEAN Summit, she managed some side meetings, such as the one with Viet Nam’s Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem, attended the Lower-Mekong Ministerial where she spoke, and ended the day at the ASEAN Gala Reception wearing a lovely gold jacket and headband reminiscent of the outfit she wore at the ASEAN dinner in Hanoi last year.  It is a different jacket, but you might remember this.

Hillary Clinton Sparkles At 17th ASEAN Summit Dinner

 

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