For Immediate Release

Press Release

Today, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) officially launched the Hug Mekong Network and opened the Network’s Home Hug Mekong Center and its library. The Center serves as the new physical home to the Network, which was established in August 2023 with the support of Mekong for the Future, a USAID-WWF partnership to increase civil society participation in natural resource management.

The Hug Mekong Network will strengthen relationships along both banks of the Mekong River through increased cooperation among public, private, and government agencies to conserve and sustain the river’s resources. In the North-North East dialect and Lao language, the term 'Hug' translates to 'Love.' This name symbolizes the community's deep affection for the nurturing essence of Mekong.  

Among the dignitaries applauding this effort were Chanchai Kongtan, Deputy Governor of Nong Khai province; Linda McElroy, Deputy Mission Director of USAID’s Regional Development Mission for Asia (USAID/RDMA); Veerawit Tianchainan, Mekong for the Future’s Chief of Party; and partner civil society organizations. 

“USAID recognizes that confronting a changing climate requires us to actively engage with community leaders so that the solutions we develop together are sustainable. This can only happen when actions are locally led, owned, and implemented, and tailored to the unique contexts where we work,” said Linda McElroy, Deputy Mission Director of USAID/RDMA.

The Mekong for the Future Activity advances priorities under the Mekong-U.S. Partnership, which was announced in August 2020 and represents U.S. commitment to transparency and good governance to advance a free and open Indo-Pacific region. The Partnership, through activities like Mekong for the Future, is increasing transparency and data sharing for regional water cooperation; strengthening collaborative relationships between governments and local communities; and building transboundary networks for climate resilience.

"Embracing our shared commitment to inclusive conservation, the launch of the Hug Mekong Network supports the pivotal role played by a regional network of civil societies in addressing transboundary challenges to nurture biodiversity and community livelihoods. Together, we chart a course toward a future where every voice is heard, and every river ecosystem is safeguarded, celebrating the richness of diversity within our ecosystems and communities," said Veerawit Tianchainan, Mekong for the Future’s Chief of Party. 

In addition to the launch ceremony, event participants also joined activities to restore the Mekong ecosystem, including the planting of Krai, a mangrove species. A community market, photography exhibits, documentary screenings, and traditional music performances connected people from both sides of the Mekong.


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