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Press Release

U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey
National Wetlands Research Center
700 Cajundome Blvd.
Lafayette, LA 70506

Contact: Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin
Phone: 337-266-8655
Fax: 337-266-8541
For Release: July 24, 2009

USGS to Play Important Role in U.S. Partnership with Lower Mekong Countries

The first-ever group meeting of the U.S. Secretary of State and the Foreign Ministers of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam took place on July 23 in Phuket, Thailand to highlight the increasing cooperation between the United States and Lower Mekong countries in the areas of the environment, health, education and infrastructure development.

An initiative of the Mekong River Commission and the Mississippi River Commission to pursue a “sister river” partnership was welcomed by the Lower Mekong Ministers.  The partnership will allow participating countries to share expertise and best practices in areas such as climate change adaptation; flood and drought management; hydropower and impact assessment, water demand and food security; water resource management; and other common concerns.

Officials from the U.S. Geological Survey were invited by the State Department to participate in the Ministerial event to provide an overview of the DRAGON (Delta Research and Global Observation Network) Partnership which will be important to the development of the sister river effort.  Initiated by the USGS in 2007, the DRAGON Partnership seeks to promote a community of practice among scientists and resource managers, and to develop new visualization tools for ecological forecasting regarding the world’s major river deltas.

“Forecast Mekong,” a six-minute video produced by USGS scientists, was shown at the meeting to illustrate the impact of climate change and other challenges to sustainable development in the Mekong River Basin.  The U.S. will spend more than $7 million in 2009 on environmental programs in the Mekong Region and the Forecast Mekong effort will be among the funded programs. 

When fully developed by the USGS, in partnership with local governments and universities throughout the Mekong region, the Forecast Mekong program will provide a valuable planning tool to visualize the consequences of climate change and river management.    

The DRAGON Partnership was created in December 2007 following Hurricane Katrina and its impact on the vulnerable Mississippi River Delta. This devastating storm brought new urgency to the critical need to share information and data from major deltas around the world. Comparative studies with other large deltas are essential to understanding and predicting the effects of climate change, engineering projects, land use, hydrological change, and other anthropogenic impacts in these sensitive ecosystems.

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