Water, energy and food security challenges, as well as women’s empowerment and the promotion of gender equality, are among major issues raised for discussion at the Seventh Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) Regional Working Group Meeting.
The meeting took place at the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel in Bangkok on 29 – 30 January 2015, and it was co-hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand and the United States Department of State.
Participating in the meeting were representatives from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam, and the United States of America. Representatives from the Friends of the Lower Mekong (FLM), such as the Asian Development Bank, the Republic of Korea, Australia, the European Union and ASEAN Secretariat, also joined this event.
Mr. Chutintorn Gongsakdi, Director-General of the Department of International Economic Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, reiterated the importance of the continued efforts of both the LMI and FLM members in working together to enhance closer cooperation among all stakeholders in the Mekong region.
He also informed the meeting of the progress made by Thailand in key areas of LMI cooperation, including public health, connectivity, education, environment and water, agriculture and food security, and energy security. The issue of science, technology, and innovation was also mentioned, since Thailand aims to use this issue for economic restructuring toward sustainability, quality growth, and overcoming the middle income trap.
Outcomes of the meeting will be incorporated into the drafting LMI Plan of Action 2015-2020. This meeting was the first time for the Eminent and Expert Persons Group to meet and discuss recommendations for achieving sustainability in the region.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Lower Mekong Initiative was inaugurated in 2009. Its main objective is to reduce the development gap between the old and the new ASEAN members and to support the realization of the ASEAN Community.
In this forum, Thailand has played an important role as a development partner together with the United States. A series of projects on education, public health, energy, and human resources development have been implemented.