Regional leaders meet to discuss lower Mekong development

04 May 2018
Regional leaders meet to discuss lower Mekong development

In partnership with the Government of Myanmar, the United States co-hosted a regional meeting with representatives from five key Southeast Asian countries on May 3-4, 2018 to discuss projects for equitable, sustainable, and inclusive growth throughout the Lower Mekong Region, according to a statement.
 “The United States is committed to Myanmar’s continued democratic transition and economic development, and supports Myanmar’s continued leadership in initiatives such as this, which strengthen relationships across the region,” U.S. Ambassador Scot Marciel said during the opening plenary session of the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) and the Friends of the Lower Mekong (FLM) 11th Regional Working Group Meeting.  The meeting included representatives from Myanmar, the United States, Thailand, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Viet Nam, Australia, the Republic of Korea, ADB, World Bank and the ASEAN Secretariat.  They focused on emerging topics in the Mekong region such as trans-boundary health communications and coordination, agricultural best practices and challenges, educational innovation and STEM programming, infrastructure sustainability and water resources management, issues related to energy development and efficiency, and private sector engagement.  
 The Foreign Ministers of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, Viet Nam, and the U.S. Secretary of State launched the LMI in 2009 to help narrow the development gap within ASEAN and to encourage collaboration to achieve sustainable economic growth and prosperity in the region.  LMI supports members to address trans-boundary development and policy issues across the key focus areas of agriculture and food security, connectivity, education, energy security, environment and water, and health. 
Ambassador Marciel also recognized five students from LMI education and technology programs at the University of Technology in Yatanarpon Cyber City.  These students – also known as “Team Edu-LIGHTER” – designed a pedal-powered study light to help students in areas with limited electricity study at night.  Their prototype won multiple awards, including first place when they joined a team from Texas A&M University in the “Invent for the Planet” challenge in the United States, and again in the VentureWell OPEN Minds Showcase where they competed against U.S. teams from Stanford, Duke, and John Hopkins Universities.