Secretary’s Remarks: From a Swift Boat to a Sustainable Mekong

More than four decades ago, as a young lieutenant in the “brown-water Navy,” my crew and I journeyed down the Mekong River on an American gunboat. Even with the war all around us, in quiet moments we couldn’t help but be struck by the beauty and the power of the river — the water buffalo, the seafood we traded for with local fishermen, the mangrove on the sides of the river and inlets.

Long ago, those waterways of war became waters of peace and commerce — the United States and Vietnam are in the 20th year of a flourishing relationship.

Today, the Mekong faces a new and very different danger — one that threatens the livelihoods of tens of millions and symbolizes the risk climate change poses to the entire planet. Unsustainable growth and development along the full reach of the river are endangering its long-term health and the region’s prosperity.

From the deck of our swift boat in 1968 and 1969, we could see that the fertile Mekong was essential to the way of life and economy of the communities along its banks. In my many visits to the region since then as a senator and secretary of state, I’ve watched the United States and the countries of Southeast Asia work hand in hand to pursue development in a way that boosts local economies and sustains the environment.

Despite those efforts, the Mekong is under threat. All along its 2,700 miles, the growing demand for energy, food, and water is damaging the ecosystem and jeopardizing the livelihoods of 240 million people. Unsustainable development and the rapid pace of hydropower development are undermining the food and water needs of the hundreds of millions of people who depend on the river.

What’s at stake? In Cambodia, the Mekong supports the rich biodiversity of a watershed that provides more than 60 percent of the country’s protein. In Vietnam, it irrigates the country’s “rice bowl” that feeds the fast-growing economy. Throughout the region, the river is a vital artery for transportation, agriculture, and electricity generation.

The Mekong rivals the Amazon for biodiversity. Giant Mekong catfish and the Irrawaddy dolphin are unique to the river, and scientists are constantly identifying new species of animals and plants across the delta. Some of these newly discovered species could one day hold the promise of new lifesaving drugs.

The challenge is clear: The entire Mekong region must implement a broad strategy that makes sure future growth does not come at the expense of clean air, clean water, and a healthy ecosystem. Pulling off this essential task will show the world of what is possible.

The fate of this region will also have an impact on people living far beyond it. For instance, U.S. trade with the Mekong region increased by 40 percent from 2008 to 2014. This trend has meant more jobs for Americans and continued economic growth for countries across Southeast Asia.

Meeting this challenge requires that we work with these countries to address very real development needs even as we work to sustain the environment. This requires good data for proper analysis and planning, smart investments, strong leaders, and effective institutions to manage the Mekong’s riches for the benefit of everyone in the region.

To that end, we joined with Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam, to launch the Lower Mekong Initiative. Its goal is to create a shared vision of growth and opportunity that recognizes the river’s role as an economic engine and respects its place in the environment.

That is why this week (Feb. 2 and 3) the United States and the government of Laos are co-hosting a major meeting of senior officials from the five lower Mekong countries, the United States, and the European Union in Pakse, Laos, where the Mekong and Xe Don rivers meet. They will be joined by representatives of the private sector and donors like the Asian Development Bank to work on a blueprint for a sustainable future.

At the meeting, we will launch the Sustainable Mekong Energy Initiative, a plan to encourage the countries of the region to develop programs that will redirect their investments to innovations in renewable energy and other sources that do not harm the environment.

This is not a question of dictating the path of development in these countries. Rather, it is about the United States and other countries working alongside our partner nations to establish a consistent set of investment and development guidelines that ensure long-term environmental health and economic vitality all along the river’s path.

This partnership is an essential part of the broader effort by President Barack Obama and the entire administration to support the people of the Asia-Pacific region, and a further sign of our commitment to helping these vibrant economies and emerging democracies.

For Americans and Southeast Asians of my generation, the Mekong River was once a symbol of conflict. But today it can be a symbol of sustainable growth and good stewardship.

EIB and Bhutan sign a Framework Agreement for capital investments

EIB and Bhutan sign a Framework Agreement for capital investments

No download formats are defined.

EIB and Bhutan sign a Framework Agreement for capital investments

Román Escolano, EIB Vice-Président and Bhutan ‘s Finance Minister, Lyonpo Namgay Dorji

08/12/2014

Rights Free

On Thursday 4 December, the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union’s long-term financing institution and Kingdom of Bhutan signed a Framework Agreement under which the Bank can start financing capital investments in the country.

The agreement was signed by the EIB Vice-President with special responsibility for the Bank’s activities in Asia, Román Escolano and his Excellency Lyonpo Namgay Dorji, Finance Minister of the Royal Government of Bhutan in Thimphu, capital of Bhutan.

The EIB is the long-term lending institution of the European Union and its shareholders are the EU Member States. Its remit is to make long-term finance available for viable projects in order to contribute towards EU policy objectives. Outside the EU, the Bank support projects that contribute to economic development in countries that have signed association or cooperation agreements with the EU or its Member States.

In Asia, the European Investment Bank has so far signed Framework Agreements with Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam and Yemen.

The signing of the Framework Agreement represents the first step of the EIB to support development projects in Bhutan. EIB is cooperating closely with the European Commission and the EEAS, in support of the EU’s policy objectives in the country. In pursuing sustainable investments in Bhutan, the Kingdom of Bhutan and EIB already discussed potential projects in the country, namely in the areas of energy and water infrastructure.

The EIB has been active in Asia since 1993 under mandates granted by the EU Council and the European Parliament. During this period the EU bank has signed contracts in the region for a total of EUR 5.6 billion. On 1 July 2014 the EU’s new External Lending Mandate, covering the period 2014-2020, entered into force. Part of the current mandate is dedicated to Asia, enabling the EIB to finance operations that contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation or the development of sustainable economic infrastructure. Additionally, the EIB can also draw on its own resources under the Climate Action and Environment Facility or the Strategic Projects Facility to finance relevant projects on a selective basis.

MEDIA ADVISORY – European Commission and Global Partnership for Education – Pledging Conference 26 June 2014

European Commission

MEMO

Brussels, 6 June 2014

MEDIA ADVISORY – European Commission and Global Partnership for Education – Pledging Conference

26 June 2014

What

The Global Partnership for Education and the European Commission are co-hosting the Second Replenishment Pledging Conference of the Global Partnership for Education, a multilateral body committed to ensuring every child has access to a quality, basic education.

It will bring together more than 500 key players in education to show their commitment to education by making solid pledges at the conference.

Why

To ensure that the right of all children to a basic education is fulfilled! The benefits of education to health, economic development and stability are clear, yet aid funding for education has fallen by an average of five percent each year since 2010.

Still, 57 million children do not go to school and more than half of them are girls. A further 250 million children drop out of school or are unable to perform basic literacy and numeracy tasks by the time they reach grade four.

Girls are more likely than boys to drop out, and girls from poor families in rural areas are least likely to have access to education.

When

June 26, 2014, from 9.00 to 18.00

Where

The Egg, Rue Bara 175, Brussels, Belgium

Participants

  1. Julia Gillard, Chair of the Global Partnership for Education and former Prime Minister of Australia

  2. Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Augustin Matata Ponyo;

  3. Education ministers of more than 40 developing countries, including Afghanistan, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Niger and Senegal;

  4. Ministers from donor countries, including Australia, Denmark, Norway, Ireland and the United Kingdom;

  5. Representatives of the United Nations, including UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova and UN Special Envoy for Education, Gordon Brown;

  6. Representatives of the European institutions, including EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, and EU Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva.

Media Opportunities

  1. Media are welcome to attend all sessions on the agenda and will be able to follow commitments made in the pledging zone via a live feed.

  2. A media workspace with wifi will be available

  3. A press conference will take place after the closing session (at 16.30), with EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs and Julia Gillard, Chair of the Global Partnership for Education and former Prime Minister of Australia.

  4. A media briefing by UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova, announcing the new global figures on out-of-school children (at 10.15)

  5. Possibility to request interviews with other participants in advance

Please complete the online registration by June 16, 2014, here. After that date, please contact GPE-Replenishment@globalpartnership.org or Alexandra Humme

The agenda of the event is available here

Media contacts

From the Global Partnership for Education: Alexandra Humme or Katy Cronin

From the European Commission: Stacey Vickers or Maria Sanchez

Background

The Global Partnership for Education aims to raise US$3.5 billion (€2.57bn) during 2015-2018. Developing country partners are being asked to pledge to increase domestic financing for education towards 20 percent of their domestic budgets. A successful replenishment will enable the Global Partnership for Education to support the schooling of 29 million children in 66 countries and to increase the quality of the education being provided

The Global Partnership for Education is made up of nearly 60 developing country governments, as well as donor governments, civil society and non-governmental organizations, teacher organizations, international organisations, and the private sector and foundations.

For more information on the Global Partnership for Education, click here

For more information on the European Commission’s work on education in developing countries, click here