Water - a key to sustainable development

The catchment area of the Lower Mekong River includes parts of the riparian countries Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam. It encompasses an area of 666,000 km2 and a population of 60 million people, who use the Mekong River itself and its water resources in a multitude of ways. The Mekong River Commission (MRC) was formed on 5 April 1995 by an agreement between the governments of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam. It was established to support the mutually beneficial use of water resources across national borders. The MRC is an international institution of the four riparian countries, supported by various donors, including the Federal Republic of Germany. A central aspect of the MRC’s work is the preservation of adequate water availability within the Mekong basin in terms of amount, quality and long-term sustainability. This is of crucial significance to downstream regions in particular.

The highly intensive agriculture which forms the basis for the economic welfare of millions of inhabitants of the Mekong Delta is highly dependent upon the water resources of the river. The fact that downstream water availability is noticeably affected by upstream events emphasizes the necessity of a sustainable water resource management in upstream areas. Furthermore, the implementation of the precautionary principle is of central significance. Many of the upstream watersheds are as yet experiencing few or no difficulties with sustainable water resource management, but a rapid deterioration is expected due to population growth and consequent agricultural intensification and industrialization. In order to guarantee adequate water availability in the Lower Mekong Basin on a long-term basis, the implementation
of a sound and sustainable water resources management in the whole region is required.

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