January 17, 2013
The European Union (EU) yesterday committed 4.95 million euros (over US$6 million) to the Mekong River Commission (MRC) to boost its efforts to respond to the region’s climate change challenges.
Representatives of the EU and the MRC signed the funding agreement in Luang Prabang yesterday on the sidelines of the 19th Mekong River Commission Council meeting.
Lao Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Mr Noulin Sinbandhit, who chaired the meeting, representatives from MRC member countries and senior officials attended the event.
According to a media release from the MRC, the funding supports the Climate Change Adaption Initiative until 2015. It supports the MRC programme to assess the effects of change climate and integrate adaption planning at the regional, national and community levels.
The funding is a part of the Global Climate Change Alliance – an EU initiative to strengthen dialogue and cooperation with the nations most affected by climate change.
“The support of the EU underscores the importance of climate change in the development of the lower Mekong Basin. Adaption planning can better prepare the region for the challenges ahead, ensuring food security and alleviating poverty reduction,” MRC Chief Executive Officer Mr Hans Guttman said at the signing ceremony.
Rising temperatures, unpredictable rainfall and extreme weather events such as typhoons are increasing in frequency, leading to droughts and floods that destroy homes, infrastructure, livestock and crops. A predicted rise in sea level will increase salinity and floods in the Mekong Delta, causing damage to crops in the most productive area of the basin.
“This financial contribution reflects the EU’s long lasting commitment to leading efforts to address one of the most serious challenges facing mankind,” said Head of the EU Delegation to Laos, Ambassador David Lipman.
“The EU is pleased to be a part of MRC efforts in dealing with the possible effects of climate change on the environment and people in the region.
We believe the Climate Change Adaption Initiative offers a unique opportunity to develop a regional policy framework for collaborative action. Responding to the climate change impact requires action at the national level but also needs to be integrated within the basin wide development prospective,” he added.
The Global Climate Change Alliance also focuses on knowledge sharing and capacity building in the Mekong countries to protect communities and the biodiversity of the Mekong region in the face of changing climate and ecosystems.
With support from the EU together with other development partners, the initiative will provide training and exchange at the governmental and community levels to identify vulnerabilities and ways to tackle these challenges.