PRESS RELEASE: East-West Center Hosts Inaugural Indo-Pacific Transboundary Rivers Conference Featuring Assistant Secretary Stilwell
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 16, 2020) – The East-West Center (EWC), in partnership with the U.S. Department of State and the Mekong-U.S. Partnership, hosted the Indo-Pacific Virtual Conference on Strengthening Governance of Transboundary Rivers on Thursday, October 15, 2020, convening policy-makers, academics, members of civil society, and other transboundary river stakeholders from across the Indo-Pacific region to share best practices related to the sustainable development and cooperative management of transboundary rivers.
Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs David R. Stilwell delivered opening remarks highlighting the new Mekong-U.S. Partnership and the need for transparent regional river governance. Other featured speakers included Secretary-General of Thailand’s Office of National Water Resources Dr. Somkiat Prajamwong, East-West Center Vice President and East-West Center in Washington Director Dr. Satu Limaye, former Indian Ambassador to Myanmar Rajiv Bhatia, Deputy Director General of the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Strategic Studies at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam Dr. To Minh Thu, Director-General for ASEAN and Southeast Asian Affairs at the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs Jae-Kyung Park, and U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Michael G. DeSombre.
“River governance and water security in the Mekong affect the lives and livelihoods of tens of millions,” said Assistant Secretary David Stilwell. “We have brought together many experts on transboundary water governance here to identify a path forward to strong and effective partnership. The United States is committed to supporting the countries of the Mekong Region to ensure the river remains healthy and vibrant, sustaining generations far into the future.”

“The East-West Center is pleased to work with the Department of State on this important conference,” said EWC Vice President Satu Limaye. “Convening officials, experts, civil society members and journalists to address key policy issues in the Indo-Pacific is the EWC’s mission. I am especially pleased that we have perspectives from Europe and North America on riparian governancehighlighting the sharing of best practices. Our special series of analyses in the Asia Pacific Bulletin and joint report with the Stimson Center entitled Mekong Matters for America/America Matters for Mekong further contribute to consideration of the critical riparian governance issues discussed at the conference.”

Conference panelists included representatives from the Stimson Center, Mekong River Commission, U.S. section of the International Joint Commission, Myanmar Environment Institute, Economist Intelligence Unit, Stockholm Environment Institute, International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River. A summary report detailing the findings of the conference sessions is scheduled for release next month.
About the East-West Center
The East-West Center promotes better relations and understanding among the people and nations of the United States, Asia, and the Pacific through cooperative study, research, and dialogue. Established by the U.S. Congress in 1960, the Center serves as a resource for information and analysis on critical issues of common concern, bringing people together to exchange views, build expertise, and develop policy options. The Center is an independent, public, nonprofit organization with funding from the U.S. government, and additional support provided by private agencies, individuals, foundations, corporations, and governments in the region.
Over more than fifty years of serving as a U.S.-based institution for public diplomacy in the Asia Pacific region with international governance, staffing, students, and participants, the Center has built a worldwide network of 65,000 alumni and more than 1,100 partner organizations. The Center’s 21-acre Honolulu campus, adjacent to the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, is located midway between Asia and the U.S. mainland and features research, residential, and international conference facilities. The Center’s Washington, D.C. office focuses on preparing the United States for an era of growing Asia Pacific prominence.

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