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Home > Main Library > Environment > The environment of Burma/Myanmar > Laws and policies related to the environment of Burma/Myanmar > Environmental governance in Burma/Myanmar

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Environmental governance in Burma/Myanmar

Individual Documents

Title: Resource Federalism - a roadmap for decentralised governance of Burma’s natural heritage
Date of publication: 24 October 2017
Description/subject: "While Burma’s ethnic states are blessed with a wealth of natural resources and biodiversity, they have been cursed by the unsustainable extraction and sale of those resources, which has fuelled armed conflict. Instituting a system of devolved federal management of natural resources can play a key role in resolving conflict and building a lasting peace in Burma. Despite some ceasefires on paper, Burma remains in a state of conflict. Ongoing offensives in Kachin and Shan states alone have left hundreds of thousands homeless. Fundamental calls for self-determination have gone unheeded in a lack of political dialogue to end decades of fighting. Military offensives into resource-rich ethnic areas have expanded Burma Army presence in plac - es previously controlled by de-facto ethnic governments. This has facilitated the rapid increase in the extraction and sale of natural resources in recent years. Resource projects have collected huge revenues for the army and the central government, but have not benefited local populations. Constitutional powers place natural resource ownership, control, and management fully in the hands of the central government. This report analyzes six key natural resources: forests, land, water, minerals, gems, and oil and gas. In each sector, a series of laws and practices prevent affected peoples from having a say in their own development: they cannot assess, provide input into, or censure the management of their natural resources. Ethnic women, particularly in rural areas, are doubly marginalized from natural resource governance. Centralised resource control is fanning the flames of discontent and anger . Resource projects are causing environmental destruction, human rights abuses, and loss of livelihoods, with unique impacts on women. Extracting and exporting raw, often non-renewable, resources is further inflicting an incalculable liability on future generations. Resources used to produce ener gy are consistently prioritised for export, contributing to the development of neighboring countries while resource-rich areas remain in the dark. People from across the country have staged protests and demonstrations, calling for an end to destructive resource exploitation and for constitutional rights to own, control, and manage their own resources. Ethnic political parties and armed groups are standing with the people in these demands. Devolved decision-making offers stronger accountability and representation at all levels of government, an opportunity for local input and control, benefits to local populations, and environmental sustainability. Burma does not need to start from zero in developing devolved governance structures. Local communities have managed lands, water, and forests with sustainable customary practices for generations, and de-facto governments have supported such practices with formal structures and laws..."
Language: English, Burmese (ျမန္မာဘာသာ)
Source/publisher: Burma Environmental Working Group (BEWG)
Format/size: pdf (2.4MB-reduced version; 3.9MB-original; 1MB-briefer)
Alternate URLs: http://bewg.org/sites/default/files/2017-10/ResourceFederalismWEB.pdf
http://www.bewg.org/index.php/my/node/36 (statement in Burmese)
Date of entry/update: 19 November 2017

Title: National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan [Myanmar]
Date of publication: 30 April 2014
Description/subject: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: "The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is a framework for national action for the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources. According to Article 6 of the Convention, each member country needs to develop its own National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) to integrate conservation and the sustainable use of biodiversity. In order to fulfill this commitment to the Convention, Myanmar conducted a project entitled National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan in Myanmar (NBSAP Myanmar). The Government Meeting No. 17/2006 of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, held on 25th May 2006, approved to formulate NBSAP of Myanmar. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and Global Environment Facility (GEF) agreed to support the technique and funding in formulating NBSAP. With approval of the Government Meeting No. 11/2009 of of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar held on 19th March 2009, Forest Department of the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar has signed the Project Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with UNEP, a GEF Implementing Agency, which is also accountable to the GEF Council for GEF financed activities, on 10th April 2009. The NBSAP is the outcome of extensive data and information collating and analysis, as well as a series of workshops and working group meetings with participation from government departments, NGOs, and academic institutions. Based on the consultations, discussions, comments, suggestions and updated information of biodiversity and natural resources in the country, the NBSAP has been prepared and approved by national stakeholders. The NBSAP will act as the major guiding document for planning biodiversity conservation in the country, following its goal to provide a strategic planning framework for the effective and efficient conservation and management of biodiversity and natural resources based on greater transparency, accountability and equity. On 3rd May of 2012, the Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar adopted the Myanmar NBSAP by its Government Meeting No. 16/2012. The NBSAP is composed of six major chapters, which start with a general description of Myanmar’s biodiversity and then extends to a strategy for the sustainability of biodiversity conservation. Chapter 1 provides a general introduction to Myanmar, as well as objectives and methodology of the NBSAP. In Chapter 2, a detailed description about the diversity in ecosystems, habitats and species in Myanmar is presented, including the indication on species’ status as being endemic, threatened or invasive. Chapter 3 discusses the background of national policies, institutions and legal frameworks applicable to biodiversity conservation in Myanmar. Chapter 4 analyses and highlights conservation priorities, major threats to the conservation of biodiversity as well as the important matter of sustainable and equitable use of biological resources in Myanmar. Chapter 5 presents the comprehensive national strategy and action plans for implementing biodiversity conservation in Myanmar within a 5-year framework that includes strengthening and expanding on priority sites for conservation, mainstreaming of biodiversity conservation in other sectors and policies, implementing of priority species conservation, supporting for more active participation of NGOs and other institutions in society towards biodiversity conservation, implementing actions towards biosafety and invasive species issues, strengthening legislative process for environmental conservation and enhancing awareness on biodiversity conservation. In this chapter, sustainable management of natural resources and development of ecotourism are also mentioned. Chapter 6 presents the required institutional mechanism for improving biodiversity conservation, the monitoring and evaluation of the implementation, as well as sustainability, of the NBSAP. It is trusted that the NBSAP provides a comprehensive framework for planning biodiversity conservation, management and utilization in a sustainable manner, as well as to ensure the long term survival of Myanmar’s rich biodiversity."
Language: English
Source/publisher: The Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Format/size: pdf (2.8MB-reduced verson; 5.6MB-original version)
Alternate URLs: http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs17/Biodiversity%20strategy%20and%20action%20plan.pdf
Date of entry/update: 23 May 2014

Title: Environmental governance in the SPDC’s Myanmar
Date of publication: January 2007
Description/subject: Conclusion: "With its continuing political instability, war and repression, Burma stands to lose much of its remaining natural resources at an alarming rate. The military regime’s protection and conservation of natural resources and the environment as a ‘national endeavour’ has been couched in progressive language. The drafting and implementation of its National Environmental Policy is, however, yet to produce appropriate institutional mechanisms. Any strategic environmental engagement with the military regime will have to bear in mind that a fruitful result for sustainable environmental governance in Burma, and consequently in the ASEAN and Mekong regions, will depend on the existence of good governance practice in a broader sense. Transparency, accountability, rule of law, an independent judiciary system and mechanisms to include local participation in environmental decision making are essential for good governance practices. Burma lacks most of these elements, although there are some limited possibilities for local participation, as can be seen from the success of the UNDP’s projects. Therefore, until and unless national reconciliation is reached and political differences are resolved among all concerned parties, Burma’s environmental future will be held hostage by political instability. It is desirable that the short-term successes of the projects discussed in this chapter lead to the rescuing of the hostage. It is crucial that the leaders of the SPDC regime realise that the existence of human civilisation depends inevitably on the harmonious relationship between society and the environment. The common finding of scientists who study the reasons behind the survival and collapse of earlier civilisations is that those civilisations collapsed due to a lack of vision and a lack of institutional arrangements to achieve a balanced relationship between society and the environment (Hodell et al. 1995; Weiss and Bradley 2001; Haug et al. 2003). The great lesson that the SPDC generals can learn from the collapse of states in the past is that the meaningful development of a society and the continuing existence of a civilisation depend on human ideas, capacities and political freedom within that society. Burmese society is endowed with ideas and capacities; what is lacking is political freedom for citizens to exercise their ideas and capacities. If current political deadlocks continue to deny citizens the political freedom to chart their own livelihoods and self-governance into the future, Burma’s civilisation and its continued existence in the modern context will be at risk. This assessment of environmental governance under the SPDC would have to conclude that the primary responsibility for charting better environmental governance in Burma lies in the hands of the SPDC generals."
Author/creator: Tun Myint
Language: English
Source/publisher: 2006 Burma Update Conference via Australian national University
Format/size: pdf (149K)
Date of entry/update: 30 December 2008

Title: A perspective on environmental governance in Burma
Date of publication: May 2003
Description/subject: "Since the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) took power by military coup on September 18, 1988, the regime has intensified use of Burma's natural resources. Desperately needing hard currency to sustain its military and engage in political and armed "annihilation" of various insurgent groups, the regime began exploiting the country's natural resources imprudently, and at an alarming rate. Since 1962 the Burmese economy had been centralized. However, beginning in 1989, SPDC adopted an open economic policy. The declaration of "Open Door" policies in early 1989 attracted foreign investment. The flood of foreign investment into various sectors of the economy brought concern for environmental issues..."
Author/creator: Tun Myint
Language: English
Source/publisher: Regional Environmental Forum - CICP, WRI, TEI - November 2002
Format/size: pdf (210K)
Alternate URLs: http://www.ref-msea.org/burma.pdf
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003