Khon Kaen, Thailand/ October 19, 2022 - Members of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) countries, development practitioners, government and intergovernmental organizations, stakeholders, non-government and civil society, private and non-profit development organizations, research institutes, and academia are attending a hybrid Mekong Forum 2022 on 19 October. Under the theme “Accelerating Post COVID-19 Recovery and Building Resilience in the Greater Mekong Subregion”, the event highlights the importance of increasing long-term resilience and building back better, discusses priority issues of the GMS and serves as regional exchange platform for collecting lessons-learned, positive stories and best practices to accelerate post COVID-19 recovery and build resilience.
Dr. Narongchai Akrasanee, Chairman of MI Steering Committee, invited the audience to reflect on the Covid-19 pandemic in his keynote address: “In the last two years, MI, just like all of us, struggled to survive and stay relevant. Now into the last quarter of 2022, we have survived the pandemic. The question is how best to recover? How best to build stronger resilience from a disaster that affects the labor factor or human resources, their inputs into the workplace and their movement for production and consumption? The long period of the Covid Pandemic has also had severe effects on the macro economy of us all.”
To provide answers to the questions, he said: “The recovery after the Covid pandemic must focus on the people, their ability to return to work, and reconnect for commercial and personal purposes. In the long-term, measures must be created and organized so that the people will not suffer from another pandemic so severely and for so long. Because our GMS economies are very much integrated by the movement of the workforce, and of goods and services, we must bring them back to that movement and further enhance it. We have learned from the pandemic that the world will always need to meet the basic human needs, i.e., food. Therefore, our GMS with its excellent water and land resources, is good for this sector and we should make it even better.”
In his keynote address, Mr. Ramesh Subramaniam, Director General, Southeast Asia Department (SERD), Asian Development Bank (ADB), Metro Manila, Philippines, stated: “The Asian Development Bank is working closely with our member countries to face the challenges of post-pandemic recovery. Our emphasis is on supporting resilient economic growth and green infrastructure development. As the secretariat of the GMS economic cooperation program, ADB is also supporting the GMS countries in achieving these targets and overcoming the challenges they face.”
“At the GMS leaders’ summit in 2021, the GMS leaders met and endorsed the new GMS programs, the strategic framework 2030, and the GMS Covid-19 response and recovery plan 2021 to 2023. The GMS 2030 is based on a solid assessment of the key trends, challenges facing the sub-region as well as the potential opportunities, and the values, interests, and principles commonly shared by the GMS countries. It contains a new GMS vision of a more integrated, prosperous, inclusive and sustainable sub-region,” said Mr. Ramesh.
In his statement, Mr. Suriyan Vichitlekarn, Executive Director, Mekong Institute, underscored the importance of identifying synergies among the existing policies on COVID-19. “Governments have invested hundreds of millions to cushion the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he noted. “This special situation offers a unique opportunity to build back better and redefine prosperity and facilitate socioeconomic reconstruction by looking at several initiatives which have been implemented focusing on recovery plans which emphasize more integrated, inclusive, green, resilient, sustainable, and stronger reforms.”
“As an organization dedicated to capacity building and regional cooperation and integration, MI has launched various programs and activities to promote post COVID-19 resilient economies such as GMS City Nodes Network, GMS Knowledge Network, and today’s Mekong Forum,” Mr. Suriyan added.
Besides the plenary session, a total of six parallel thematic workshops are being organized. The workshops cover the following overarching topics, namely “Inclusive and Resilient Society”, “Seamless Connectivity” and “GMS’ Priority Sectors: Agriculture and Tourism”. Regional and international experts from the field are providing input presentations and leading discussions.
The event is organised by Mekong Institute, co-hosted by Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), and is held in partnership with Khon Kaen Chamber of Commerce (KKCC) and Thailand Creative Design Center (TCDC) Khon Kaen.