Dear Colleagues,it is our great honor to invite you to attend the Mekong Environmental Symposium 2013 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, from March 5th - 7th, 2013. The Mekong Environmental Symposium 2013 is the first event organized by the German Aerospace Center, DLR and the WISDOM Project, and it will serve as an international platform for governmental decision-makers, scientists, and other organizations active in the Mekong context. We are looking for contributions from all six Mekong riparian countries – China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam – as well as from the international expert community. Translators for all six languages of the Mekong Riparian Countries will be provided throughout the conference. The event therefore will offer significant opportunities to meet colleagues who share the same interests and want to contribute to further trans-disciplinary information exchange for the benefit of the river basin. Whether it is in the field of river ecology, environmental monitoring, hydrology, socio-economics, energy, disaster management, or trade, to name just a few: we cordially invite you all to contribute to the numerous sessions planned for this three-day event. We expect to welcome about 300-350 participants to the event.
MotivationMekong riparian countries are facing severe human-induced challenges, due to socio-economic transformation, urbanization, and the ever increasing interlinking and economic growth of the riparian countries. Hydropower developments on the main river streams are just one example of many controversial topics related to the Mekong Basin. These developments, in addition to climate change and associated shifts in flood pulse or river ecology are taking their toll on a highly sensitive aquatic ecosystem and affect the livelihoods of millions of people in the region. These effects are negatively reinforced by the increasing and often conflicting demands of the different riparian countries of the Mekong. Our six years of experience working on the environmental, economic, and social topics related to the Mekong has shown us that there is a need for intensified, inter-disciplinary exchange on these topics for all riparian countries. Our experience has also shown that there are already many excellent projects in place that address the most pressing overarching theme of the Mekong: to find a sustainable equilibrium between economic development on the one hand, and the protection of natural resources on the other.
Context of the SymposiumThe United Nations has declared 2013 as the year of “International Year of Water Cooperation”. Actors from all backgrounds and disciplines will take advantage of this to actively promote the internationally agreed water-related goals, which were set out in Agenda 21, the Millennium Development Goals, and prior climate-related summits in Johannesburg, Kyoto, Cancun, and Rio. At the Mekong Environmental Symposium 2013 we hope to focus on the most pressing issues in one of the world’s largest transboundary river catchments. The Mekong Basin is home to over 70 million inhabitants. The river flows for over 4800 km through six countries. Nations active in the Mekong include not only the riparian countries themselves, but also countries such as Japan and other ASEAN nations, Australia, the USA, and many European countries. We are therefore looking forward to welcoming contributions from representatives of all these countries, who will present their ideas on the sustainable, healthy development of the basin.
Call for AbstractsYour high-quality contributions will ensure that this Symposium will be remembered as a highlight. We therefore cordially invite you to be involved in the Mekong Environmental Symposium 2013 via your presentation and attendance in lively Ho Chi Minh City. We look forward to meeting you here in Vietnam in March 2013.
Claudia KUENZER and Florian MODER