Lao Govt to enhance 1995 Mekong agreement compliance

The government has stepped up plans to enhance its compliance with the 1995 Mekong Agreement by conducting seminars in provinces across the country to disseminate the agreement's content.

Secretary General of the Lao National Mekong Committee Secretariat, Ms Monemany Nhoybouakong, reiterated that the government has attached great importance to sustainable development of the Mekong by observing the agreement, which Laos and other Mekong River Commission (MRC) countries signed.

She gave an interview to Vientiane Times recently after organising a seminar in Khammuan province attended by relevant government officials from central and southern provinces.

The participants learnt five procedures under the 1995 Mekong Agreement. They are the procedures for data, information exchange and sharing; procedures for water use monitoring; procedures for notification, prior consultation and agreement; procedures for maintenance of flows on the mainstream, and procedures for water quality.

The government has implemented the agreement through various forms reflected by the fact that it has always taken into account the agreement's requirements when it proceeds with development projects under the scope of the agreement.

In addition, a numbers of laws and regulations on environment and social impact assessment have been formulated to realise the government's vision and com mitment on environmentally friendly development, Ms Monemany said.

She added that environmental management and monitoring units in provinces across the country have been set up to carry out work and ensure development projects undergo all the required procedures.

The secretary general stated that the seminars will enhance the units' capacity in carrying out their work properly.

“All these contribut e to maintaining the water quality and the richness of the Mekong,” she said.

Apart from these, the government has attached great importance to preserving forests and reforestation to function as a water source contributor to the Mekong. Laos currently contributes more than 30 percent of the water to the river.

Laos has set an ambitious target to increase its forest cover to 65 percent of the country's 236,800 square kilometre land area by the year 2015, and to 70 percent by 2020.

M s Monemany stated that the government has made its policy clear that it has committed to not only the sustainable development of the Mekong, but also to environmentally friendly and sustainable development of the country as a whole.

She pointed out that the action the government has undertaken in preserving forests and reforestation will enable Laos to become the most significant contributor to the sustainable development of the Mekong. This will also add fuel to the government's effort to fulfill its commitment to develop and consume the clean energy of hydroelectricity.

Green development, forest preservation and reforestation initiatives will also enable Laos – the least developed country - to fulfill its obligations to the Kyoto Protocol to which the country is a state party, despite the fact that many developed and industrial countries have refused to abide by it, Ms Monemany said.