Written by Mekong Institute

The Mekong Institute (MI) organized a Stakeholder Consulative Meeting to report to the Institute’s stakeholders on the progress of MI activities toward its strategic plan and seek inputs and recommendation on its 2007-2010 Business Plan .The meeting was held on July 18, 2007 at the MI Residential Training Center, Khon Kaen, Thailand. Forty-nine representatives of MI stakeholders participated in the meeting. They represented government agencies, development partners, training and research institutions and NGOs operating in the six GMS countries.

Outcomes of the meeting can be summarized as follow:

For long-term Financial Sustainablility: 

  1. With the granting of ntergovernmental status to MI by the Thai Governmet on July 17, 2007, MI should maximize this competitive advantage by marketing itself as a regional training and development organization owned by all six GMS countries. This can b done by focusing its expertise on addressing transnational/sub-regional issues; establishing niche and developing unique selling point with very focus programs, developing integrated relationship and working with other national and regional development and training institutions to provide learning courses, action researchses and policy advices to national and regional GMS related institutions.
  2. GMS ownership of MI is critical to the long-term sustainability of the Institution. This can be demonstrated by more active involvement of GMS governments in developing MI program direction and by making financial contrbutions to te MI Operation Expenses Budget (OEB).
  3. MI Secretariat should work in close coordination with the National Coordnating Agents in assessing current and anticipated training needs, marketing its programs and services and forging alliances with development projecs in the member countries. Clear communication and marketing stretegy is needed to be in place.
  4. MI should develop a long-term strategy (5-10 years) with the involvement of GMS governments and deveopment partners. This strategy should include the financial mobilization plan. MI donor base should be more diversified.
  5. MI must concentrate firstly on building up its internal capacity by increasing its human resouce capability, developing high quality and relevant HRD programs and creating its presence in other five GMS countries.

For Operationalizing MI Strategic Plan:

1. The four thematic areas proposed in the MI Business Plan received strong support from the meeting. Specific recommended topics under each thematic areas are:

  • a. Public Sector Reform and Good Governance( Leadership in Public Service Reform, Leadership in Competitive Enterprise, Donor Assistance Coordnation and Aid Effectiveness)
  • b. Project Management & Development (Regional Project Mangement, Project Monitoring and Evaluation, Policy-making Process on Poverty Reduction)
  • c. Trade Facilitation (Capacity building of Private Sector on SME Cluster Development and Export Consortia, Trade and Investment Facilitation, Trade Negotiation)
  • d. Effective Regional Cooperaton (Conflict Mangement for Effective Regional Cooperation, Policy Formulation Program with development issues)

2. In developing and delivering the above core products, MI has to package or repackage its learning courses into different forms like short-term seminar, workshop, working session, policy dialogues and practical training workshop. MI has to expand its services beyong the Khon Kaen residential training center. Some of the program can better be done in country or in a structureed learning visit scheme.

3. Co-organizing courses or workshops with other partners in the GMS is the another marketing strategy. Potential implementing parners include Asin Disaster preparedness Center (ADPC), Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Devawongse Varopakarn Institute of Foreign Affairs, International Institute for Trade and Development (ITD), National Chambers of Commerce, different national universities and HRD units of national GMS related agencies.

4. MI has to proactively work with its current and potential development partners. In this way, MI should establish close relationship wth Asan Development Bank (ADb), Mekong River Commission (MRC), Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), ASEAN Secretariat, nernational Trade Center (ITC), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)m World Bank, Australian Agency for International Development (AUSAID), European Union (EU), Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), Deutsche Gesellschaft Fur Technische Zusammenarbeit GMbH (GTZ) and Canadian international Development Agency (CIDA). For example, MI should work with the World Bank’s Project on Good Governance at the Ministry of Interior of Camboda to have the World Bank co-finance in MI Public Sector Reform Course. MI should make it learning programs available at “Donor Coordnation” meetings in Cambodia, Lao and Vietnam. Aid Effectiveness and donor coordnation should be included in MI HRD programs.

The meeting agreed that the most valuable and strongest competency of MI was its avowed focus on the GMS. It included that the MI had to access officials and organizations throughout the GMS, its access to alumni and to coordinating agencies. Since this has been identified as the biggest core competency, it needs to be fully exploited and emphasized in such a way that its value is apparent. The focus of MI has to be clearly artculated to starkeholders and intended stakeholders and the value of regional training needs to be clearly understood by the stakeholders. The way in which regional training interlocks with in-country programs also needs to be defined.

The benefits of regionally focused training versus training carried out by regional institutions need sto be the key point of differentiaton to separated MI from other providers.

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