contributed by Maddy Dahm
DG Jeremy Bird is currently undertaking a mission to the Southeast Asia region – visiting partners and donors in Vientiane, Hanoi, Phnom Penh and Bangkok over June 12 – 22, 2017. To coincide with his visit to Vientiane on the June 12, a reception was held for all partners. At this reception, Jeremy delivered a short speech and brief remarks were also made by the Dr. Phouangparisak Pravvongviengkham, Lao Deputy Minister for Agriculture and Forestry. The reception was attended by several of IWMI’s national and development partners as well as the donor community. IWMI’s Southeast Asia regional office, based in Vientiane, Laos, hosted the event.
Jeremy, in his remarks, stressed that we must be smart and inclusive if we are to achieve sustainable development. The individual goals and targets are naturally inter-connected, especially in relation to water. Taking action on water SDGs can help achieve other development goals, but sometimes only focusing on water could lead to unexpected and unintended consequences.For example, hydropower dam construction provides electricity and revenue, and works towards achieving SDGs involving infrastructure and economic growth. However, this has often come at the cost of other SDGs, especially those relating to gender equality, aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity.
In his remarks at the reception, Deputy Minister of MAF, stressed the importance of SDG1-No Poverty, and SDG 2-No Hunger, as they relate to agricultural production in Laos. Improved access to water is critical to achieving these goals and, in this context, irrigation is a central component of the Government’s poverty-reduction strategy. Dr. Phouangparisak highlighted the importance of community-based irrigation schemes, while sighting a need for an overall water resources strategy in Laos that is crafted in cooperation across the environment-related ministries of the Lao Government. He indicated that research organisations such as IWMI have an important role to play in policy-related research and strengthening national research capacity. Both Jeremy and Dr. Phouangparisak agree that as Laos integrates the SDGs into its national development agenda, it is essential that partnerships are developed across sectors.