Phnom Penh, Cambodia (July 13, 2012) — The Foreign Ministers and senior representatives of Australia, Japan, Republic of Korea (ROK), New Zealand, the Ministerial Representative of the EU, and a senior representative of the Asian Development Bank last Friday joined the U.S. Secretary of State and Foreign Ministers of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for the Second Friends of the Lower Mekong (FLM) Ministerial Meeting.
The Ministers were unanimous in their view that a strong and integrated ASEAN would be an anchor for stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific. Noting that ASEAN’s goal of economic and political integration depends on reduction of the development gap among member states, the Ministers affirmed the importance of facilitating the development of an integrated Mekong subregion.
They underscored the importance of encouraging Mekong countries to better integrate their development activities towards inclusive, sustainable, and environmentally-responsible growth.
The Ministers affirmed that the FLM is an important convening platform and mechanism to improve coordination and avoid duplication of regional assistance programs – particularly those programs that are effective, and regionally owned. They endorsed the two track structure for the Friends of the Lower Mekong which, they emphasized, would complement existing cooperation.
They resolved that the first track is to be a dialogue among partner countries development agencies, and the multilateral development institutions. They noted that this track should build on the principles espoused in the Paris Declaration for Aid Effectiveness, the Accra Agenda for Action, and the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation.
To that end, the Ministers resolved that track one is to expand information sharing, support efforts to strengthen partner country ownership of regional assistance program, and encourage emerging supporters of the lower Mekong region to endorse shared principles and standards of results, accountability, and transparency.
The Ministers also formulated a second FLM track, which is to be a policy dialogue between foreign affairs ministries held annually at the Senior Official, and Ministerial level. The Ministers concurred that, as coordination of regional assistance requires the involvement of our respective donor agencies, they should also be party to those discussions.
They emphasized that the FLM agenda could be expanded to include discussion of non-traditional security issues which are transnational in nature and affect the stability and resilience of the lower Mekong countries, such as environmental degradation, climate change, health risks, infrastructure development, anti-trafficking efforts, and migration, as well as other issues which affect human security.
The Ministers welcomed their collaboration in the Lower Mekong Initiative Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Policy Dialogue in Siem Reap. They looked forward to hearing the outcomes and recommendations of the Policy Dialogue and pledged to work together to ensure that women and girls are fully integrated – both as change agents and beneficiaries – in all aspects of their development work in the region.
The Ministers and senior representatives highlighted the scope of their respective assistance and activities in the lower Mekong region and emphasized the importance of close cooperation among partners and the lower Mekong countries to enhance effectiveness, mobilize resources, and promote connectivity of regional assistance programs aimed at supporting inclusive, sustainable, and environmentally-responsible growth.
Recognizing the profound impacts of development on ecosystems and livelihoods within the region, there was a particular emphasis on efforts to strengthen the science and technical capacity of the Mekong River Commission. The Ministers urged the riparian countries of the Mekong River to continue working together to jointly manage the shared water resources of the basin in an open and transparent manner for the benefit of the people.
The Ministers pledged to continue their close collaboration with the MRC on these issues and to cooperate, in principle, in supporting the MRC study on the sustainable management and development of the Mekong River, pending satisfactory completion of the terms of reference.