The Greater Mekong Subregion Economic Cooperation Program Strategic Framework 2030: A response to long-term challenges of the new decade  
Policies, Strategies, and Plans

The Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Economic Cooperation Program Strategic Framework 2030 (GMS-2030) provides a new setting for the development of this subregion for the next decade. It builds upon the GMS Program’s strengths that center on connectivity and a project-led approach to development. This feature summarizes the key priorities of GMS-2030.

GMS 2030: A response to long-term challenges of the new decade

GMS-2030 provides a framework for the subregion to act collectively in its response to seven long-term, powerful local trends: (i) risk of pandemics; (ii) weaker global growth and the threat to free trade; (iii) persistent pockets of poverty and increasing in-country inequality; (iv) severe environmental challenges and threats from climate change, disaster events, and pollution; (v) technological change and digitalization; (vi) evolving demographics; and (vii) rapid urbanization. 

The GMS-2030 Vision is to develop a more integrated, prosperous, sustainable, and inclusive subregion. To achieve this, GMS-2030 establishes a new Mission Statement regarding the GMS Program: A subregional cooperation program focused on its fundamental strengths of community, connectivity, and competitiveness while embracing the core principles of environmental sustainability and resilience, internal and external integration, and inclusivity, for building a GMS community with a bright shared future.

GMS-2030 will implement its Mission Statement through innovative approaches in the following six cross-cutting areas:

  • Digital revolution. Harness the transformative potential of the digital revolution and focus on the preparation of subregional spheres of: (a) digital policies and regulation, (b) internet connectivity, (c) e-commerce and payment systems, (d) in-demand logistics and skills, and (e) risks of using digital technology.
  • Enhanced spatial approach. Design an enhanced spatial approach to development that is based on an integrated network of economic corridors, dynamic border areas, and clusters of competitive cities that are well connected to rural areas.
  • Dialogue, knowledge sharing, and capacity building. Foster deeper dialogue on policies and regulations to realize the full gains of infrastructure investments and public service delivery.
  • Private sector solutions. Embrace private sector solutions to leverage expertise and financing so that they are more relevant post-COVID-19.
  • GMS as an open platform. Reform the GMS Program to be a more open platform that cooperates closely with other regional cooperation and integration initiatives, as well as local governments, development partners, academia, and civil society.
  • Results framework. Establish a results framework for monitoring and evaluation.

GMS-2030 retains the three pillars of community, connectivity, and competitiveness. The strategy will expand the Program’s efforts to scale up interventions under the community pillar.

Pillar 1: To build a greater sense of “Community." GMS-2030 will promote the development of a healthy and environmentally sustainable GMS community in which the well-being of all citizens is pursued. Focus of GMS-2030 will include:

  • Health: Communicable disease control through cross-border surveillance and modeling; information exchange; implementation of international health regulations; pandemic preparedness; and accelerate the implementation of universal health coverage.
  • Environment: Improving environmental sustainability and climate change resilience through green technologies; protection of ecosystems and key ecological processes; climate resilience policies; disaster-risk management; and mainstream climate change considerations into all GMS interventions, promoting energy efficiency, renewable energy, climate-smart landscapes, and sustainable waste management.

Pillar 2: To achieve increased “Connectivity.” GMS-2030 will promote further connectivity in transport and energy.

  • Transport: GMS-2030 will prioritize intermodal approaches; facilitate cross-border transport; seek improvement in logistics, asset management, and road safety; ensure the development of railway networks, sea, river, and dry ports, and inland waterways; improve connections with the rest of Asia and the world through investments in airports and the development of secondary roads that will link to main corridors to expand the benefits to poorer communities; initiate efforts to integrate urban transport with the GMS transport network.
  • Energy: GMS-2030 will focus on cross-border power trade; establishing regional grid codes; developing regional markets; and expanding clean energy investments with a greater role for the private sector.

Pillar 3: To enhance “Competitiveness.” GMS-2030 will boost competitiveness post-COVID-19 by restoring and promoting trade and investment facilitation, agriculture, tourism, urban development in a climate-friendly manner and working together to build an open, fair, just, and nondiscriminatory business environment. Focus of GMS-2030 will include:

  • Trade facilitation: Modernizing customs; establishing sanitary and phytosanitary regulations; strengthen links to the private sector; and support the development of e-commerce platforms in the subregion.
  • Agriculture: Promote higher food safety and quality standards for expanding exports; encourage climate- and environment-friendly production practices along the value chain, as well as sustain natural assets with a focus on small-scale farmers and micro, small, and medium-sized agro-enterprises; and support food security response and recovery efforts in the medium and long terms in lieu of the adverse impact of COVID-19 on agricultural supply chains.
  • Tourism: Promote recovery efforts by developing higher value-added and secondary destinations, as well as strengthen human capital, connectivity infrastructure, public–private linkages, and environmental sustainability.
  • Urban Development: Focus on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on cities with measures to respond to current and future crises; encourage a holistic approach to the future planning of cities so that they are green, smart, competitive, resilient, safe, and inclusive; promote linkages between cities to develop new urban clusters and maximize economies of agglomeration; develop cities in border areas; create linkages with special economic and industrial zones; and improve waste management and pollution in cities located close to GMS rivers and seas.

Other areas of cooperation may also be explored under GMS-2030 to ensure that the subregion is able to respond quickly to new challenges, depending on the needs and demands of GMS countries. This could include the following:

  • Encourage cooperation in innovative areas such as digitalization and new technologies, e-commerce platforms, logistics, labor mobility and safe migration, education and skills, and special economic zones and promote cross-sector collaboration.
  • Boost institutional arrangements. New sector working groups or task forces will be formed to support critical areas, while GMS-2030 continues to benefit from the mechanisms of the GMS Program, including the Summit of Leaders; ministerial conference; and meetings of senior GMS country officials and sector working groups.
  • Enhance programming and monitoring systems and processes. The Regional Investment Framework will be revised to raise project inclusion standards to increase its appeal to development partners and the private sector with respect to project readiness; economic and social returns; and adherence to environmental and social best practices and project management standards. A GMS Results Framework will monitor GMS-2030.

The Seventh GMS Summit of Leaders, hosted by the Government of Cambodia on 9 September 2021, endorsed GMS-2030, and its supplement, the GMS COVID-19 Response and Recovery Plan 2021–2023. The Summit’s theme was “GMS: Renewed Strength to Face the Challenges of the New Decade.” Read GMS-2030.



Last updated: 
Friday, September 24, 2021