The “Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation” kicked off in Beijing on May 14, 2017. MI’s Executive Director, Dr. Watcharas Leelawath, presented as one of the founding members of the SiLKS (Silk Road Think Tank Network) and spoke at the SiLKS Annual Meeting on May 16, 2017 as one of the panelists. 

The attendees of the Forum represent more than 60 countries included in the Belt and Road plan that China introduced in 2013 to stimulate trade and economic growth along the ancient Silk Road and beyond. The attendees of the SiLKS Annual Meeting are the members of the Silk Road Think Tank Network. 

This is the third SiLKS Annual Meeting. Members and partners of SiLKS discussed and suggested how to facilitate the cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, as well as how to promote the sustainable development of a global economy. 

Dr. Watcharas explained Mekong Institute (MI) and its vision and mission to the members and partners. As an inter-governmental organization owned and operated by the six GMS governments, MI has played an active role to address changing development needs in the GMS over the past 20 years. With the support of the six GMS governments, MI worked closely with development partners to implement capacity building projects including training, research and policy consultations to foster a more integrated, prosperous and harmonious GMS. MI’s specific mission is to highlight human resource development and capacity building for the acceleration of a sustainable economic and social development. The Institute also addresses poverty alleviation in the GMS and promotes regional cooperation and integration. 

While the GMS countries are keen to take part in the Chinese government’s Belt and Road Initiative, a common challenge is the need for a stronger coordination to ensure policies are consistent, appropriate, and effective. MI, as an inter-government organization, is well-placed to help build trust and develop expertise. It also has a successful track record in helping parties reach cooperative solutions. 

Dr. Watcharas expressed MI’s willingness to join hands with SiLKS and its members and partners to work together to achieve sustainable development for the regional and global economy. 

The SiLKS partners and members have agreed to adopt the SiLKS Declaration on Joint Action, which was finalized on the same day. Through this agreement, MI and the rest of the members have underlined the importance of extensive cooperation between all parties to strengthen the integration of development strategies and enhance capacity building efforts. This step forward will further develop initiatives supporting the Belt and Road Initiative.

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