To impart practical knowledge and skills necessary for implementing national pilot projects that focus on the technological solutions to the intersectoral challenges of water, energy, and food (WEF) resources, the Mekong Institute (MI), with support from the Republic of Korea's (RoK) Ministry of Science and ICT, brought together government officials from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Viet Nam for a Training of Trainers (TOT) workshop.
In a partnership that involved the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), the Mekong River Commission Secretariat (MRCS), and South Korea's Science and Technology Policy Institute (STEPI), this ToT workshop marks the inaugural capacity-building program under the 5-year Triangular Cooperation for Sustainable Development in the Lower Mekong Basin Project. The said project is also known as the "RoK-UNOSSC, Facility Phase 3" or "P-LINK." It intends to take integrative and multi-sectoral approaches in the application of highly demanded technologies on WEF to improve people's livelihoods based on South-South and triangular cooperation modalities. It will enlist the help of RoK experts in science, technology, and innovation.
Before the ToT workshop, MI with partners hosted a series of regional and national consultative forums between September 2022 and August 2023. During these forums, the locations for the pilot projects and appropriate technological solutions in each country were identified and selected. The ToT was the next logical step in this comprehensive undertaking. It sought to deepen participants' understanding of these national pilot projects' design and indicators. The program aimed to arm project implementers with advanced skills, offer regional perspectives, and provide access to professional networks essential for successfully implementing these national initiatives.
"The concept of the WEF nexus has become widely used in the international development community. The nexus framework explores interlinkages among vital sectors to foster resource efficiency, reduce pollution, and harmonize policies," Mr. Suriyan Vichitlekarn, MI Executive Director explained in his welcome remarks during the training.
"We believe that STEPI is a good intermediary, an 'innovation intermediary,' that can play a crucial supporting role in this project, bridging the gap between South Korea and the Mekong countries and facilitating the exchange of technologies and knowledge," said Dr. Hwanil Park, Chief Director and Senior Research Fellow of STEPI's Division of Global Innovation Strategy Research.
The TOT workshop was structured into three main modules. The first module provided an introduction to the WEF nexus and its integrated management, complemented by case studies. The second module focused on in-depth project analysis, emphasizing performance indicators and progress measurement. The final module involved hands-on exercises to develop essential project management skills, including stakeholder engagement analysis, communication planning, and risk management strategies.
Post-workshop, a follow-up online event is scheduled for April 2024. It will serve as a platform for participants to share the progress and outcomes of their national pilot projects, fostering connections and knowledge exchange.
In its commitment to continuing capacity-building programs, MI surveyed the participants to gauge their learning needs. The survey revealed that the majority expressed a strong desire to learn more about project financial management, with additional interest in other project management skills such as proposal writing, planning, creating timelines, and monitoring and evaluation. Some participants also emphasized training local technicians to deploy and operate these projects effectively.
As MI forges ahead with its mission to promote sustainable development in the Lower Mekong Basin, this recent training and the upcoming capacity-building programs stand as significant milestones toward a more interconnected, sustainable future for the region.