April 21, 2020
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
We are really pleased to launch the second edition of the Journal of Greater Mekong studies. This is a forum to discuss key issues that inform relevant stakeholders and address complex issues facing the region. The Lower Mekong is a focus for ASEAN and the entire international community. The United States has supported the region through the Lower Mekong initiative for over ten years. Through a multitude of programs addressing energy, the environment, health, education issues, with over three and a half billion dollars in assistance to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. The Mekong River binds the region together. It’s the lifeblood of 60 million people who live along its banks and hundreds of millions more who get critical protein from its fisheries.
Fast-paced urbanization and industrialization have led to environmental degradation along the Mekong and risks to food security and economic livelihoods. Just in the past week a very credible report revealed that water levels along the Mekong are not consistent. Dams along the rivers northernmost sources might be hoarding water. These issues affect multiple countries and must be addressed through regional collaboration transparently with the interests of all countries in mind. Now there have been some encouraging signs here in Cambodia. Recently the Ministry of Mines and Energy announced a 10-year moratorium on Mekong dam building this gives Cambodia an opportunity to explore energy
alternatives to avoid serious human and environmental impacts. The Journal of Greater Mekong studies is playing a really important role in raising awareness. It’s only by discussing and debating issues across borders that progress can be made. We’re very proud to support the journal and we’re also proud of the think-tanks and academics who are participating in this effort. Open discussion is really essential for solving challenges facing the Lower Mekong. We will continue our support and cooperation for this fantastic Journal of Greater Mekong studies. Thank you.