Following the signing of an MoU between the New Zealand and Thai governments in 1995, which came on the heels of a visit by former NZ Prime Minister, H.E James Bolger, MI began operations in 1996 as a joint project between the New Zealand and Thai governments with support from Khon Kaen University.
Until 2003, MI worked primarily to assist the transition of the GMS countries into the market-economy, providing training and learning programs to middle-senior level government officials.
Recognizing the changing needs of the region, MI quickly shed its development assistance tag and by 2003 with the signing of the MI Charter blossomed into a non-profit, autonomous organization.
From 2003 MIs programs and services gravitated towards cross-border issues with a focus on rural development, good governance, and trade and investment facilitation.
In Nov 2009, with the signing of the, Bill for the Protection of the Operation of the Mekong Institute, and a royal decree signed by the King of Thailand, MI matured into a recognized intergovernmental organization (IGO) focusing on providing HRD and capacity development learning programs to enhance regional development, cooperation and integration.
Today some 15 years later MI stands as an autonomous international institution owned and operated by the six GMS countries it serves, with a network of over 4,000 alumni. MI has continued to evolve according to the needs of the sub-region and its people, and today prioritizes the preparation of the CLMV countries workforces for regional integration to bring about more equitable, inclusive economic growth.
Like the region itself, MI is in a period of transformation, and is currently expanding its traditional portfolio to position itself as a GMS-based knowledge-center of excellence with increased institutional capacities to perform policy research and recommendation services related to economic integration and development disparities. MI is increasingly focusing on engaging in multi-year, multi-sector programs in collaboration with a host of regional development partners and local public and private sector organizations to enhance its own operational systems and to ensure the most effective and efficient delivery of its programs and services.