Asian Development Bank

Mekong leaders agree five-year plan that will enhance region`s environmental protection

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Source: Asian Development Bank

At this week's Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Summit, the prime ministers of Cambodia, People’s Republic of China (PRC), Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam agreed on a comprehensive five-year Plan of Action that aims to spur growth, reduce poverty, promote social development and enhance environmental protection in the subregion. Under the new Plan of Action for 2008-2012, the six nations sharing the Mekong River have committed to:

- Accelerating the construction and improvement of the remaining sections of GMS transport corridors, including a rail link joining Singapore and Kunming;

- Devoting more resources to rural communications development;

- Implementing new biofuel and rural renewable energy development initiatives;

- Intensifying efforts to protect forests and reduce environmental risks;

- Strengthening the sustainable management of natural and cultural tourism sites;

- Implementing a new strategic action plan for cooperation in education, health, and labor;

- Enhancing the prevention and control of communicable diseases in border areas; and

- Harmonizing trade procedures and facilitating border crossing formalities.

“Over the past fifteen years, the GMS program has been a key element in our nations’ successful efforts to reduce poverty,” said Lao PDR Deputy Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith.

“The new GMS Plan of Action we have adopted today will help us transform the Mekong subregion into a hub of development in Asia,” he added.

In addition to agreeing on today’s Plan of Action, leaders witnessed the signing of agreements to facilitate cross-border power trade, and promote development along major regional transport corridors.

They also celebrated the completion of a new subregional telecommunications backbone – the foundation of a GMS Information Superhighway Network that will help spur growth and development – and officially opened an overland highway connecting PRC and Thailand via Lao PDR.

“Fifteen years ago, when many Mekong nations were mired in conflict and poverty, few would have dared to predict that these countries would make such unprecedented progress in alleviating poverty and enhancing economic prosperity,” said ADB Vice President C. Lawrence Greenwood, Jr. at today’s event.

“The GMS program is an important part of that success story, and a testament to the role regional cooperation and integration can play in helping drive growth and reduce poverty,” he added.

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