As part of its mission to enhance research and policy engagement for sustainable development in the Mekong Region, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) signed an agreement with SEI on 19th November 2018 to support SUMERNET's next five-year phase of work focusing on "water insecurity" issues in the Mekong Region.
The agreement was formalised between Ms Åsa Hedén, Head of Development Cooperation – Regional Asia and the Pacific, Sida and Prof. Dr. Måns Nilsson, Executive Director of Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) on behalf of SEI's role as SUMERNET Secretariat.
At the end of its third phase in April 2018, SUMERNET's Steering Committee (SC) decided to embark on a new phase of work over the next ten years, with a strategic focus on "reducing water insecurities for all, in particular for poor, marginalized and socially vulnerable groups, in the Mekong Region", referred to as "SUMERNET 4 All".
During the next five years, SUMERNET 4 All will focus primarily on the six countries in the Mekong Region: Cambodia, China (specifically Yunnan Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region), Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. The new phase will provide further opportunity for collaboration with partners in Myanmar given the opening up of the country in the last few years.
SUMERNET 4 All, with the focus on reducing water insecurity for all, will continue its efforts in conducting regionally-relevant research, capacity building in research and communications together with policy engagement, social equality, based on current strong partnerships, and fundraising for this work, while seeking to expand its membership to include a diverse mix of institutions concerned with transboundary natural resources management.
SUMERNET 4 All will involve partners from other Southeast Asian countries to take advantage of their research and policy know-how to support the Mekong Region. The programme will also explore relevant opportunities for knowledge exchange and collaboration with other regional and international networks in the Asia-Pacific Region.
Launched in 2005, with support from Sida, SUMERNET grew from initially 14 in it’s first phase of work to currently 68 members in 2018. With this ever-widening network, SUMERNET has successfully catalysed research on a number of critical development challenges in the Mekong Region.
In photo from left to right: Ms Åsa Hedén (Sida), Prof. Dr. Måns Nilsson (SEI), Dr. Chayanis Krittasudthacheewa (Deputy Director of SEI Asia), Mr. Niall O'Connor (Centre Director, SEI Asia), and Dr. Anna-Karin Norling (First Secretary, Regional Development Cooperation Section, Sida).