Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and Alaska’s U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan announced that the Senate has passed their bipartisan resolution bringing awareness to the environmental, humanitarian, and economic issues facing the Mekong River. The Mekong River is vital for the livelihoods of 60 million people throughout Southeast Asia, and those living along the river face increasing peril due to upstream dams, climate chaos, and transnational crime.
“The Mekong River is not only the most important river in Southeast Asia, but one of the most important rivers in the world, and the challenges facing the river continue to grow more severe each year,” said Senator Merkley, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “These challenges threaten the environment, economy, and lives surrounding the Mekong River. Our resolution acknowledges these significant issues and calls on the U.S. to strengthen our Mekong-U.S. Partnership to ensure these precious resources are being used and allocated equally, equitably, and with as little climate impact as possible.”
“The Mekong River is vital to the cultures, economies, and health of tens of millions of people living in six different nations across Southeast Asia,” said Senator Sullivan. “As a leader in the Indo-Pacific region, the United States has an important role to play in bringing these nations together and facilitating discussions that address disagreements and the numerous threats to this shared resource. I want to thank my Senate colleagues for passing our bipartisan resolution to support the important work of the Mekong-U.S. Partnership, which is dedicated to achieving sustainable solutions that will protect the Mekong now and into the future.”
The Senators’ resolution promotes the economic and environmental well-being of the people of Mainland Southeast Asia in the five countries that the Mekong River flows through. It encourages all Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members to view the environmental, humanitarian, and economic threats to the Mekong River as a danger to the entire region. The vital partnership with the Mekong River Commission supports initiatives for the long-term health of the river, and the resolution notes its essential role in sharing information among countries and people along the river to prepare for irregular water flows, and mitigate the economic and environmental impacts of these flows, including through the Mekong Dam Monitor.
In order for future generations to benefit from the richness of the Mekong River, the international community must prioritize the building of quality infrastructure. The bipartisan resolution calls for leveraging U.S., Japan, South Korea, Australia, and other partners’ expertise on high quality infrastructure to support the economic development needs of the countries of the Mekong River Basin; support quality infrastructure development through prioritization of funding for U.S. International Development Finance Corporation projects in the Mekong River Basin countries; support a whole-of-government approach in providing and coordinating federal aid and assistance throughout the Mekong River Basin under the Mekong-U.S. Partnership; and support the development of the region’s capacity to respond to non-security threats.
In April, Merkley led a bicameral Congressional Delegation visit to Southeast Asia, including visiting a Vietnamese town on the Mekong River that is already affected by rising sea levels. The delegation also met with student advocates, climate change experts, and fish farmers.
Text of the resolution can be found here.