Australian Ambassador’s Visit to MI Highlights Mekong-Australia Partnership

July 3, 2024 – Mekong Institute (MI) welcomed the Australian Ambassador to Thailand, H.E. Dr. Angela Macdonald, for a fruitful dialogue in its headquarters in Khon Kaen, Thailand. The visit reviewed the progress of ongoing projects funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and explored more avenues for collaboration under the Mekong-Australia Partnership (MAP).

MI and Australia have a longstanding partnership aimed at promoting sustainable development and regional cooperation in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). Over the years, this collaboration has resulted in numerous capacity-building initiatives, technical support, and strategic projects that have significantly contributed to the region’s socio-economic development.

The visit commenced with a roundtable dialogue where H. E. Dr. Macdonald received updates from MI’s delegation, headed by its Executive Director, Suriyan Vichitlekarn, on the MAP Phase I-funded projects.

Discussions revolved around key initiatives, including the promotion of climate-smart agriculture technologies and innovations in Lower Mekong (LM) countries. Launched in 2023, this one-year project aims to bolster the resilience of agricultural value chains in the LM region by implementing tailored climate-smart agriculture approaches, enhancing technical manpower, improving access to climate finance, and fostering collaboration among key actors.

Additionally, the dialogue covered capacity building for MI to enhance its secretarial support and development capabilities. Supported by DFAT, this project aims to strengthen MI’s role in supporting the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) Interim Secretariat and regional strategic planning. Engagement in the Mekong Leadership Think Tank Network under the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and training programs in Australia further highlighted the comprehensive collaboration under MAP.

Future directions and potential cooperation areas for MAP were also discussed. Key areas included support for green and resilient development through nexus approaches and strengthening institutional cooperation mechanisms. Other technical topics included expanding climate-smart agriculture value chains and financing, advancing women’s economic empowerment, and addressing trade, gender, and climate change to strengthen sub-regional leadership.

Youth development in the GMS was also emphasized, focusing on enhancing youth advocacy, leadership skills, and civic participation to ensure the next generation is equipped to contribute to regional development.

Ambassador Macdonald acknowledged MI’s unique role as a regional convenor, bringing various stakeholders together to discuss critical issues affecting the subregion. She appreciated MI as an important partner and expressed her enthusiasm for continued collaboration.

The visit underscored the strong partnership between MI and the Australian Government, reaffirming their shared commitment to driving sustainable development in the Mekong region.

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