Unlocking Sustainable Regional Collaboration: Highlights from the Mekong-Republic of Korea Cooperation Fund (MKCF) Roundtable Meeting

Trade and Investment Facilitation

To assess the progress of the Mekong-Republic of Korea Cooperation Fund (MKCF) management and delve into project implementation concerns, the Mekong Institute organized a roundtable meeting with the MKCF management team and leaders from project implementing agencies (PIAs) across the Mekong region on December 14, 2023, at The Pullman Grande Sukhumvit Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand.

With a total of 35 participants in attendance, the meeting aimed to provide insights into the MKCF projects, sharing best practices, showcasing results, and fostering a network of contacts among stakeholders.

With its core objectives achieved, the meeting not only provided an opportunity to cross-evaluate the progress and achievements of the MKCF projects but also fuelled stronger ties among the PIAs, setting the scene for better coordination and sharing of resources.

Moreover, the event fostered an exchange of knowledge and experiences, as participating PIAs shared lessons learned, contributing to a deeper understanding of effective implementation strategies within the context of the Mekong region. The forum also provided an avenue for the identification of challenges in project implementation, paving the way for future synergy and replication of appropriate resolutions.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Madhurjya Kumar Dutta, Director of MI’s Trade and Investment Facilitation Department and concurrently serving as the MKCF Project Director, underscored MKCF as an effective initiative fostering regional collaboration and networking and promoting an in-depth understanding of the seven MKCF priority areas[1] among participating countries.

Mr. Madhurjya highlighted ROK’s expertise in terms of water management, information and communication technology (ICT), and agriculture, among others, urging countries to leverage this expertise for broader collaboration. He also announced the nearing completion of a robust web-based monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system and an interactive website with a mobile application version for MKCF projects, seeking support from PIAs in sharing data and information to populate the system.

Presentations by the PIAs were pragmatic, highlighting achievements and identifying practical and thematic challenges and their resolutions. The Q&A session garnered active participation with enriching discussions, engaging dialogues, and exchange of constructive viewpoints.

The roundtable discussion concluded with six key summary points, highlighting important factors contributing to the success of MKCF projects. These factors include the valuable lessons learned from navigating the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic; the crucial role of effective communication in project implementation; the importance of fostering collaboration and networking among PIAs to amplify project impact; the necessity of developing monetizable projects beyond MKCF funding as a strategic approach to ensure sustained project viability; the integration of ICT as a necessary tool in resolving regional issues; and the significant contribution of private sector involvement in achieving meaningful project impacts. Participants expressed optimism at the end of the session, pledging commitment to the improvement in MKCF project delivery.

[1] Culture and Tourism, Human Resource Development, Agriculture and Rural Development, Infrastructure, Information Communication Technology (ICT), Environment, and Non-traditional Security Challenges

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