At Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Resort, the second Mekong Institute (MI) Steering Committee and Council Meetings of this year have taken place last Dec 6-7, 2011, in Siem Reap, Cambodia, as it is the host GMS country for this year.
Amongst the important matters discussed, the affirmation of the 15th Anniversary Celebration next year marked as its highlight. The schedule of activities however will be posted early next year as the plan is yet being properly finalized for the reference of the public.
Next year, the GMS Economic Program will also honor its 20th year since its inception, multiplying the cause for celebrating the integration and evolution of this blossoming region.
At the meeting, it was discussed that MI has grown impeccably, and can now enter, upon its 15th year, a phase of adulthood from its previously teenage or transitional years. The members have affirmed; however, that MI should continue to grow in the same pace, taking its rightful place as the center for excellence in GMS-related development thrusts. According to Dr. Narongchai Akrasanee, MIs Steering Committee Chairman, MI should strive to become the Wikipedia, or the Google for the GMS, implying that we should one day become the go-to organization or information platform for everything GMS-related.
Another key topic discussed was how the world was now focusing on Myanmar. The previously closed nation is opening up to the world in such a fast pace, that it is just right that MI should study, conduct dialogues and forums, as well as inform the GMS people on its implications and opportunities.
In light of recent events, another area of focus has been stressed: natural calamities and its effects on the economies in the region. The floods that have occurred in the past months have greatly impacted on the economic growth of all GMS countries. MI needs to address these as well, tapping and initiating flood-related activities and researches.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) Country Director for Thailand, Mr. Craig Steffensen strengthened the discussion by informing that the ADB will be organizing such an event early next year in Bangkok, bringing in experts from all around the world to talk about experiences and lessons learned from their respective countries. He also assured that if MI would need any assistance when creating related activities, they would gladly share their expertise and data on the matter.
In the line of support, one of the best results of the December meeting was the pronouncement of all six GMS countries to continue supporting and contributing to MI. Some even vowed to give larger contributions in the future, as MIs relevance and impact continues to grow.
As MI embarks on a challenging year ahead, with about 60% more activities and many more partners, it has many issues and barriers to address; yet MI looks upon them with great pride excitement, knowing it can face what lies ahead.