In the Mekong sub-region, with a shared history and culture, the Mekong countries envision a prosperous, sustainable and integrated sub-region, one agile enough to adapt to global shifts. In recent decades, external partners such as the United States, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and European countries have increased their engagement with the sub-region.

Following the publication in September 2021 of the Joint Communication on the EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and the unveiling of the Global Gateway Strategy in December 2021, the European Union and its Member States are increasing their focus on the region, especially in dealing with global challenges in a post-Covid world like climate change, water security, sustainable development, health security and resilient supply chains against the backdrop of growing geo-political competition. A key area of focus for which huge untapped potential exists is EU engagement in the Mekong sub-region.

In this context, the Delegation of the European Union to Vietnam and the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam will co-host the EU-Mekong Cooperation Conference.

Conference agenda

Languages: Vietnamese & English (with simultaneous translation)

07:30 – 08:00




08:00 – 08:30

Opening remarks

Dr. Pham Lan Dung, Acting President of the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam

H.E. Giorgio Aliberti, EU Ambassador to Viet Nam

Keynote speech

Leader of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam






08:30 – 10:00

Session 1: Review of EU engagement with the Mekong sub-region

The EU and its Member States are a key partner of the Mekong River Commission and top provider of support to the Mekong sub-region. This session will introduce this contribution and review the efforts of EU and its Member States as reliable partners of the Mekong sub-region.

Moderator: Dr. Nguyen Hung Son, Vice-President of the Diplomatic Academy of Viet Nam


  • H.E. David Daly, EU Ambassador to Thailand
  • H.E. Ina Marčiulionytė, EU Ambassador to Lao PDR
  • H.E. Carmen Moreno, EU Ambassador to Cambodia
  • H.E. Giorgio Aliberti, EU Ambassador to Viet Nam
10:00 – 10:15

Coffee break










10:15 – 11:45

Session 2: Major trends in the Mekong sub-region

This session will examine major trends in the Mekong sub-region that are affecting sustainable development, such as the impact of climate change on the river basin in terms of floods and droughts, sea intrusion and loss of bio-diversity; how water governance is affecting water security; and how geo-political competition among major powers is impacting sustainable development efforts in the sub-region.

Moderator: H.E. Antonio Alessandro, Ambassador of Italy to Vietnam


  • Assoc. Prof. Chaiyuth SUKHSRI, Department of Water Resources Engineering , Faculty of Engineering, Chulalongkorn University “Critical Issues in Sustainable RiverBasin Development and Management: Case Study of the Mekong”
  • Dr Pech Sokhem, Mekong Water Diplomacy Scholar, and Climate Change and Environmental Law and Policy Advisor –  “How the geopolitical rivalry and water governance architecture proliferation affect the Mekong River Basin”
  • Professor Richard Heydarian, Polytechnic University of the Philippines – “The Coming Anarchy: Mekong, Resource Scarcity, and Cooperation in the 21st Century”
  • Journalist Kavi Chongkittavorn, Bangkok Post (Thailand) – “Major Trends in Mekong subregion: New Balancing Wheel”
11:45 – 13:15











13:15 – 14:45

Session 3: Opportunities and challenges for Mekong regional sustainable development

The session will examine opportunities and challenges for Mekong regional sustainable development such as how can Mekong countries adjust their development model towards more inclusive and sustainable development and green growth and how to construct a more efficient water governance mechanism in the sub-region.

Moderator: H.E. Elsbeth Akkerman, Ambassador of The Netherlands to Vietnam


  • Associate Professor Le Anh Tuan, Senior Lecturer, Can Tho University – “Water challenges for sustainable development in the Mekong river delta of Vietnam”
  • Dr Nam So, Chief Environment Management Officer, Mekong River Commission – “Mekong River Commission and Basin Development Strategy 2021-2030”
  • Mr Jake Brunner, International Union for Conservation of Nature – “Benefits of transboundary cooperation on water resources management”
  • Kim Geheb (D.Phil), Senior Researcher, Centre for International Forestry Research – “Institutional Opportunities for a Sustainable Mekong”
14:45 – 15:00

Coffee break

15:00 – 15:30

Keynote speech

H.E. Gunnar Wiegand, EEAS Managing Director for Asia-Pacific








15:30 – 16:45

Session 4: Prospects for EU-Mekong Partnership for sustainable development

This session will explore ways to promote a cohesive Team Europe approach to Mekong sub-region and look at ways of further cooperation between the EU, its Member States, the Mekong countries and the entire sub-region.

Moderator: Dr. Le Dinh Tinh, Director General, Institute for Foreign Policy and Strategic Studies, DAV


  • Mr. Felix Zaharia, Deputy Director-General – Secretariat of the Danube Commission (Budapest) – “Treading softly – Danube Commission’s decisions and recommendations”
  • Mr. Niall O’Connor, Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) Asia Centre Director –
  • Mr. Nick Reijmers, Global Project Development Manager, Boskalis International – “Logistic solution for connecting the Mekong to the EU.”
  • Prof. Andrea Castelletti, Politecnico di Milano – “Good dams, bad dams – strategic dam planning drive hydropower sustainability in the Mekong river basin”
16:45 – 17:00

Closing remarks

Leader of the Diplomatic Academy of Viet Nam

Leader of the European Union Delegation to Viet Nam

SEI Asia Centre Director Niall O’Connor will present in Session 4: Prospects for EU-Mekong Partnership for sustainable development and highlight SEI’s work in the Mekong Region.