MRC launches campaign to inspire river protection

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Local fishermen collect their catch from a boat in Stueng Treng. Hong Menea

The Mekong River Commission (MRC) has launched a social media competition that calls on users to share messages that can inspire people to do more to protect rivers.

The campaign, entitled Mekong 2030, was launched to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the MRC.

“We are seeking entries that describe people’s dreams and visions of the kind of Mekong River they would like to have 10 years from now,” it said in a press release on Tuesday.

“Through this short campaign, we hope to hear messages that can be used as an inspiration, a call to action, for MRC and for all of us to continue protecting and managing the river in the most practical and effective way in this changing context,” MRC Secretariat CEO An Pich Hatda said.

To join the campaign, Facebook users have to post their photograph of the Mekong River, along with a wish about how they want the river to be in 2030.

The post and wish can be written in any language. Participants can use the hashtags #MRC25 and #MekongRiverCommission.

Winners will receive $100 in cash, a bag of eco-friendly gifts, and MRC memorabilia. Participants whose entries are considered “inspiring” will also be given the eco-friendly gifts and memorabilia.

In the statement, Pich Hatda said the Mekong River basin has been under mounting pressure from development and climate change. It faces a loss of wetlands, rising temperatures, a weakening of riverine habitat, and a reduction in fish catches and sediment transport.

“We’ve witnessed more extreme weather conditions, such as floods, storms and droughts which are already changing the river basin we once knew. The region has also been deemed one of the most vulnerable to climate change in the world,” he said.
These problems threaten agriculture yields and the livelihoods of 65 million people, he said.

Pich Hatda said that for the past 25 years, the MRC has brought its members together to implement several basin-wide procedures, guidelines and strategies to manage and protect the Mekong River.

“The members recognise MRC’s value, and as a result, increased their financial contributions to the organisation. They have also given us the highest political support in three successful summits. This shows the 1995 Mekong Agreement works,” he said.

Pich Hatda said understanding the current state of the Mekong River basin, how it has changed, and the drivers of these changes will be key to managing today’s challenges more effectively.

“All stakeholders in the Mekong River basin must collaborate and make informed choices to successfully optimise the benefits and manage the risks of development. MRC must continue to enhance its data and information management to verify and share it more widely.”

He said to address the challenges, a more proactive regional approach to basin planning and management, with an enhanced and systematic information sharing mechanism and robust monitoring of river flow must be put in place.

“With more dams and other infrastructures to be built on the lower Mekong River, there is a strong need to establish coordinated operational basin management to ensure there are sufficient information flow and monitoring of the dam operations and management of the river,” he said.