Remarks by Vice President Harris During Roundtable Discussion With Environmental and Clean Energy Leaders
Chief of Mission Residence
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Ambassador Godec. And thank you for your leadership and service to our nation and the partnership and the relationship we have with Thailand, for being here on the ground doing so much important work. Thank you.
And to the leaders who have joined us for this discussion, I thank you, and it is good to see you. I’m looking forward to a robust discussion about so many very important and critical issues.
The climate crisis is at the intersection of so many priorities. When we think about the impact of the climate crisis, it affects our goals that are societal goals of supporting public health, sustainable livelihoods, and economic growth, in addition to just protecting this precious planet of ours.
In particular, we know that the climate crisis presents a real threat to the communities who depend on the Mekong River in Thailand, in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, and Burma.
There are droughts, floods, and extreme heat. And this is in addition to the impacts of upstream development. So these will be some of the topics we will discuss today so that I can hear from the leaders here on the ground about what you are seeing in terms of the detail of it and the impact of it and what we can do together to address some of these issues.
To fully understand the impacts of this crisis and to develop enduring solutions, we all need to make sure, as leaders, that all the voices are at the table, because we cannot fully and completely address these issues if we, as elected leaders, are not in touch with people who are on the ground to inform our decisions and to help make the decisions in a way that will impact real people on a daily basis.
So we must all work together — civil society, the private sector, and governments. And that is why we are here, and that’s why I’ve asked these leaders to come to this table, to convene you so we can have this discussion.
And so, here we have convened activists who are focused on protecting the environment, including the Mekong River and all the livelihoods that the Mekong River supports. There are business leaders at this table who are building a clean energy future. And to all of you, I thank you again.
Bold climate action is not only necessary to protect — protect the people of our planet and our natural resources, but it is also a powerful driver of economic growth, something that we’ve been talking about, actually, over the last couple of days, in the context of the APEC’s convenings.
So, today I am pleased to announce an increase in support from the United States for the Mekong River and region as it seizes the economic opportunity that is associated with clean energy.
In particular, I’m proud to announce that the United States plans to provide up to $20 million in funding to the Japan-U.S.-Mekong Power Partnership — $20 million that is intended to direct resources to address some of these most critical needs.
This partnership with Japan aims to accelerate the clean energy transition and strengthen energy security in the Mekong region.
In addition, we are taking action to protect the environment around the Mekong. For example, supporting the Mekong-Mississippi Sister Rivers partnership, which shares tools and best practices on water resources management.
In conclusion, I would say that these are just some of the many ways that we can and will partner.
I believe that in order for us as a collective whole, as a society as a whole, in order for us to accurately and appropriately and responsibly address this climate crisis, we must join together. We must respect the tools, the expertise, and the skills that each brings to this conversation and to the work we will do as a collective. But we cannot do it, any one of us, alone. And that is why I’ve asked you to come, in furtherance of that approach, which I know we all share.
The United States is committed to working to support the economic development of the Mekong region. And we will continue to invest our resources in a clean energy future, both here and around the globe.
And so, again, I thank you all for your leadership. I look forward to our conversation.
And with that, I thank the press for your attendance and I’ll bid you farewell for now so we can begin our discussion. Thank you.