Lancang-Mekong protection makes gains

Updated 2017-11-16 09:02:11 China Daily

Environmental officials and experts from China and five other countries discussed strategic goals to promote regional environmental cooperation along the Lancang-Mekong River in a meeting on Wednesday in Beijing.

The river, an international body of water, crosses all six countries-China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. It is known as the Lancang in China and the Mekong in Southeast Asia.

The Lancang-Mekong cooperation mechanism was established in 2016 as China put forward the idea of setting up a regional environmental cooperation center to strengthen technical cooperation and other exchanges, according to the draft of the Lancang-Mekong Environmental Cooperation Strategic Framework (2020-25) released on Wednesday.

The six countries, undergoing faster industrialization, are paying more attention to the issues of environmental protection and sustainable development. They plan to promote regional natural resources protection and management and establish the Lancang-Mekong environmental policy dialogue platform, the draft said.

Climate change adaptation and mitigation also are among the priority areas for the countries' environmental cooperation, including carrying out joint research, it added.

Plans call for the cooperation center to open in December in Beijing, mainly to handle contacts and coordination requests. The environmental authority in each country will provide guidance and establish official focal points to support implementation of the framework.

The strategic framework, the main document to guide the next five years' cooperation in the region, was a main focus of discussion among the nations' environment officials and experts from international NGOs in Beijing on Wednesday.

"It's the second time we have involved environmental officials and experts to discuss the draft after an initial time in March," said Li Xia, director of Asia-Pacific Environmental Cooperation Division of the China-ASEAN Environmental Cooperation Centre. The center was inaugurated in Beijing in 2011.

Laotian officials, for example, suggested the countries enhance capacity building through organizing Lancang-Mekong environmental planning and management training programs.

Since 2016, China has invited hundreds of officials from Mekong River countries to exchange information and thoughts in China, and some pilot research projects already have been conducted.

Initial research has been conducted on freshwater ecosystem health in a section of the Lancang running through Xishuangbanna in Yunnan province by a team that included Wen Zhuqing, a researcher at the China-ASEAN Environmental Cooperation Centre.

Similar research is being done in some Mekong nations like Laos and the joint results are expected to help improve water quality along the length of the river, Wen said.

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