Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Today , the Foreign Ministers of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam, the Secretary-General of ASEAN and the U.S. Secretary of State met in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for the Eighth Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) Ministerial Meeting.
The Ministers affirmed the importance of considering social and environmental impacts of infrastructure development, of using integrated natural resources management and planning approaches, and developing collaborative approaches to address complex, transnational development and policy challenges after the Extraordinary Meeting of Friends of the Lower Mekong February 2-3, 2015 in Pakse, Lao PDR.
At their annual gathering, the Ministers affirmed the updated Master Plan of Action to Implement Lower Mekong Initiative 2016-2020, which emphasizes the cross-cutting areas of the water, energy, and food security nexus and gender equality and women’s empowerment in addition to the six LMI Signature Programs. The Ministers confirmed continuity in the work of the six pillars of Agriculture and Food Security, Connectivity, Education, Energy Security, Environment and Water, and Health and reaffirmed the importance of integrating gender equality across development and policy planning.
The Ministers confirmed the emphasis on institutional alignment with ASEAN regional priorities in support of the launch of the ASEAN Community and the ASEAN Master Plan on Connectivity objectives. The Ministers encouraged concerted outreach and engagement of the Eminent and Expert Persons Group, Friends of the Lower Mekong donor members, and regional institutions such as the Mekong River Commission and other sub-regional frameworks for development and policy cooperation.
LMI Signature Programs include:
- Connect Mekong – promoting regional economic integration and the realization of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015 by fostering trade, entrepreneurship, and innovation;
- Smart Infrastructure for the Mekong (SIM) – a technical and scientific assistance program for environmentally sound, socially equitable infrastructure, clean energy, and land and water use;
- Connecting the Mekong through Education and Training (COMET) – a workforce development project implemented in partnership with major technology companies that strengthens educational institutions in increasing the number of skilled workers in ASEAN priority sectors;
- Professional Communication Skills for Leaders (PCSL) – develops proficiency in regional teachers for English language instruction in technical areas related to the LMI Pillars;
- Women’s Entrepreneurial Centers of Resources, Education, Access, and Training for Economic Empowerment (WECREATE) – women’s entrepreneurship project provides safe spaces for women to access education, tools, and resources to start and scale their businesses; and
- One Health Program - promotes early detection and response to diseases in animals before becoming threats to human health, and enhances regional capacity for disease prevention, detection, and response across human and animal health, and the environment.
The Ministers tasked the SOM and the Working Group to coordinate closely to implement the plan of action through concrete projects on LMI cooperation areas, to promote equitable inclusive and sustainable development in the Mekong region. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to LMI as an important cooperation mechanism of the Lower Mekong sub-region.
Heads of Delegations:
- John Kerry, Secretary of State of the United States of America (Chair)
- H.E. Hor Namhong, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Kingdom of Cambodia
- H.E. Thongloun Sisoulith, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic
- U Wunna Maung Lwin, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar
- H.E. General Tanasak Patimapragorn, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand
- H.E. Pham Binh Minh, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam
- H.E. Le Luong Minh, Secretary-General of ASEAN