The Mekong Forum, with the theme of From the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) to the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC): Prospects for Human Resource Development and Capacity Building in Regional Cooperation and Integration, was held in Khon Kaen, Thailand on 12-13 July. The Forum provided a unique opportunity to bring together senior government officials, academics and researchers, civil societies, private sector practioners and other capacity building professionals from throughout the Sub- region and beyond. Seventy one delegates participated in the Forum, which was organized by The Mekong Institute and sponsored by the New Zealand Aid Programme.
Recognizing that the demand on the GMS countries for integration into ASEAN is occurring at an accelerated pace, the Forum focused on how regional networks and partnerships can help prepare the GMS countries for integration and assist in narrowing development gaps in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV).
Experts from within, and outside the region, shared their views on the implications for regional cooperation and integration. Distinguished speakers included: Dr. Narongchai Akrasanee, Chairman of the Board, MFC Asset Management Plc. Thailand; Ambassador Pradap Pibulsonggram, Thai Representative High Level Task Force On ASEAN Connectivity, Dr. Lothar Mahnke, Managing Director, Regionomica Asia Pte. Ltd and Dr. Suchat Katima, Director, Mekong Institute.
Key themes from their speeches were:
Human Resource Development and Capacity Building are critical factors in strengthening GMS countries ability to integrate into ASEAN
GMS countries need to leverage on the rise of China as well as their commitment to ASEAN to improve their economies
Successful capacity building is demand-driven, long-term, uses a variety of methods and must pay attention to the role of partner institutions
Tangible interregional cooperation is already taking place (connectivity of infrastructure, institutions and peoples)
Achieving AEC 2015 depends on closing The Prosperity Gap between CLMV and other ASEAN countries.
Delegates discussed and shared experiences to identify the major Human Resource Development and Capacity Building barriers and constraints centered on the issues of Free Trade Agreements, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, and Good Agricultural Practices. Delegates identified the need to address constraints in three major areas:
Institutional by building the capacity of government agencies and private sector institutions (e.g. Chambers of Commerce and Industry) in developing and disseminate ASEAN related information
Implementation by strengthening the capacity of government agencies to implement different ASEAN frameworks
Innovation - by enhancing the ability of all stakeholders to cope with changes and fast developments
Delegates then identified potential collaborative partnerships and arrangements to overcome these barriers and constraints. Specific actions included: policy dialogues, training, research, seminars and workshops, forums, outreach, study visits, peer support programs and media campaigns. Delegates will take these ideas back to their organizations for further development.
The Forum concluded by offering delegates and others who were unable to attend the Forum the opportunity to continue and broaden the dialogue beyond what was accomplished in the two-day Forum . A Mekong Forum Blog will enable this dialogue to continue.
For further information and to obtain a copy of the proceedings, please contact
Ms Tina Wang
Tel 66 (0) 43 202 411-2 ext 409
The Proceedings of the Mekong Forum will be posted on this website