RCE Hangzhou Holds Youth Policy Essay Writing Competition

RCE Hangzhou recently held the ‘Better Lancang-Mekong River' Youth Policy Essay Writing Competition, in collaboration with the Waterkeeper Alliance East Asia Region, Hanns Seidel Foundation, Lower Sesan River Waterkeeper, and 3S Rivers Protection Network. The writing competition was open to youth from the six countries along the Lancang-Mekong River. Its main focus was how to help achieve the co-governance and sharing of water resources by promoting communication among young people from those six countries, about sustainable protection and utilisation of the Lancang-Mekong River.

The Lancang-Mekong River is the longest river in Southeast Asia. It originates in China's Qinghai Province and passes through the Tibet Autonomous Region and Yunnan Province in China before flowing into Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. The river also forms part of the international border between Myanmar and Laos as well as Laos and Thailand. As the Lancang-Mekong river is the most important transnational water system in Asia, the protection and utilisation of its water resources is relevant to the interests of all basin countries. Each of these countries has equal rights to develop and utilise the river’s water resources, as well as a deep responsibility to protect those resources. RCE Hangzhou hopes that this essay competition will serve to promote bilateral and multilateral collaboration among the Mekong River countries in the field of water resource protection and development. Through this competition, young people from the six countries used an international perspective to propose solutions and ideas that balance the respective countries’ rights, interests, and responsibilities.

The writing competition brought a number of excellent essays from young people across the six countries, who offered many valuable suggestions for the protection and utilisation of the Lancang-Mekong's water resources. One student from Thailand acknowledged the beneficial role played by transnational agreements such as the Sanya Declaration and the Phnom Penh Declaration, and suggested that international cooperation could improve the coherence of the basin countries' actions. A student from China suggested that a joint management body composed of the six basin countries should be established as soon as possible, and that a sustainable development agreement should be developed on this basis. She also suggested that common and shared standards should be developed among the basin countries, and that 'smart water' technology should be used to build an information sharing platform for water resources related cooperation.

In addition to these, many other suggestions were received from youth in the basin countries, with the organisers deeply impressed by the in-depth thinking and sense of responsibility that they displayed in regards to joint protection and equal development and utilisation of the Mekong River. RCE Hangzhou hopes that these suggestions will provide more ideas for cooperation in the region.