Mekong Institute (MI), in collaboration with the Embassy of India, Bangkok, Thailand, organized the Mekong-India Forum on "Engaging Youth in Water Resources Conservation and Management" on March 22, 2022. The Forum, which is part of the India Cooperation Initiatives with the Mekong countries such as the India-Thailand Exchange Program (ITEP) and India Technical Economic Cooperation (ITEC), aims to share experiences on emerging issues of mutual interest as to build a strong network of youth between India and Mekong countries and explore opportunities for collaboration in academic exchange, training, research cooperation, and visit.
Over 75 participants from the Mekong countries, India and beyond representing youth, researchers, mid to senior officials of government and private sector organizations and NGOs from Cambodia, France, India, Korea, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Sweden, Thailand, and United States attended the forum.
Mr. Suriyan Vichitlekarn, Executive Director, MI welcomed the participants to the forum. While commemorating the world water day 2022, he emphasized the importance of water and role of youth in the Mekong countries and India where the countries have over the centuries enjoyed the privileges and prosperities driven from the two great rivers namely the Mekong River and Ganga River. On the basis of this cooperation, the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation, was established since 2000. He added that water scarcity, water pollution, inadequate water supply, lack of sanitation and impact of climate change made the importance of the water that it's necessary to conserve and manage widely. Young people have potential to be the effective agent of change while many youth initiatives exist around the world. However, it's generally hampered due to various reasons e.g. lack of great support to the absent of proper platform that sustain youth participation.
Empowering youth and defining mechanism to ensure their engagement and contribution to sustainable water engagement is critical to getting their voice heard to meet the need and demand.
H.E. Mrs. Suchitra Durai, Ambassador of Embassy of India to Thailand provided the opening remarks at the inaugural session and outlined India's policy on promoting economic cooperation and cultural ties with Southeast Asian countries. She informed that India undertook multi-dimensional engagements for more than two decades with the Mekong countries under bilateral agreement mechanisms at regional and sub-regional including the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation Framework. The cooperation areas cover on tourism, culture, education, and transport and communication, water resource management, science and technology skill development, and capacity building programs which recently has further expanded to other relevant areas such as health and traditional medicine, and agriculture.
She also highlighted that India supported over 80 projects known as "Quick Impact Projects or the QIPs" that are being implemented in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam. The QIPs are aligned with the plan of actions and missions of Government of India to undertake collaborative projects with focus on social, economic, dimension of the local communities including drinking water and water resources conservation and management due to water quantity and quality biodiversity loss, disasters, drought and flood. Therefore, involvement of multi-stakeholders particular engaging the youth in water resources conservation and management is extremely pertinent.
The forum contributed in deepening the collaboration among the youth sector and students on emerging issues on water resources conservation and management through discussions and deliberations by experts on the subject.
To get more information and the forum's materials, please visit the forum's site at https://sites.google.com/mekonginstitute.org/mekongindiaforum2022