Strong Institution Needed to Boost Mekong Delta Development

3:04:23 PM | 27/6/2019

“To accelerate the translation of Resolution 120 from policy to practice, it is time to end business-as-usual and put in place strong institutions, support effective implementation, promote innovation, use current information, and promote stakeholder involvement,” said Mr. Ousmane Dione, World Bank Country Director for Vietnam.

He said, “As a development partner, WB stands committed to working with the Mekong Delta and deliver Resolution 120.”

In November 2017, when the Government issued Resolution 120 on Sustainable Development of the Mekong Delta in Response to Climate Change, it recognized that a climate resilient, prosperous, and sustainable delta is not an option, it is a must. More recently, this commitment was reinforced, with the approval of the overall Action Plan for Resolution 120.

Since 2015, the WB has mobilized approximately US$1.6 billion for activities in the Mekong Delta, most of which are aligned with Resolution 120. Looking ahead, the WB aims to mobilize at least US$880 million to implement Resolution 120. These resources will support central and provincial authorities and other stakeholders. It aims to help seize opportunities created by climate change, changing demographics, emerging markets, technological advancements, and regional geopolitics.

“Any further support to the Mekong Delta will only make a difference if there are strong institutions, effective implementation, robust information, commitment to innovation, and involvement of all stakeholders,” said Ousmane Dione.

Such institutions need to have clear authority: Authority to inform the Integrated Regional Master Plan; authority to select regional investments for financing; authority to mobilize financing from public and non-public sources; and authority to oversee implementation of the Regional Master Plan.

Besides, according to Mr. Ousmane Dione, improved coordination is needed to bring together varying interests and define a common development orientation for the Mekong Delta. It is needed to help identify investment priorities, allocate responsibilities and determine the sharing of benefits. Greater coordination will help inform policy changes and mobilize financing. It will create efficiencies in budget execution and strengthen Vietnam’s transboundary position.

A strong institution needs a robust plan. In the Mekong Delta, the Integrated Regional Master Plan that is under preparation can play this role as it will serve as the blueprint for a climate resilient, prosperous and sustainable Mekong Delta by identifying the suitable economic, urban and industrial structure for the region.

However, a meaningful Regional Integrated Master Plan requires pro-active engagement of all relevant ministries, provinces, and stakeholders. It also requires robust evidence and analysis.

Effective regional coordination and a comprehensive integrated master plan are, however, meaningless if without financing. Ousmane Dione said. In the new fiscal climate of Vietnam, efficient mobilization and use of financial resources, has to be prioritized.

Innovation, information and involvement of stakeholders are also instrumental to transform future decisions into actions.

He added, delivering Resolution 120 also requires that climate-smart and low-impact agriculture and aquaculture in the Mekong Delta be professionalized and focus on adding value. Agriculture-based industry, a major player in the future development of the Mekong Delta, will have to focus its efforts on less volume and more value. Knowledge and support services, risk management instruments, supporting infrastructure, and private investment are all necessary for this change.

Improved connectivity is also imperative for a climate resilient, prosperous and sustainable Mekong Delta. Greater connectivity should involve climate-resilient infrastructure and regionally suitable multimodal transport investments including inland waterways.

Quynh Chi