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Int’l conference on Myanmar environment held in Yangon

John Liu The Myanmar Times Friday, January 10, 2020

A speaker presents at the MEAA 2020 conference in Yangon. Photo: Supplied

Government officials, researchers, experts, NGOs took part in the first-ever international conference focusing on addressing environmental, social and sustainability-related issues in Myanmar. 

The organisers, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Myanmar Environmental Assessment Association (MEAA), sought to create an interdisciplinary platform for various stakeholders to tackle Myanmar’s environmental challenges and identify solutions.

“It is inspiring to see such an assembly of policymakers and practitioners all focusing on how Myanmar can care for its environment while at the same time pursuing sustainable development pathways,” said Andrea Faulkner, Australian Ambassador to Myanmar in the opening.

The two-day “MEAA 2020” conference attracted wide interest from the public and private sector alike, while receiving many paper submissions that are mostly from within the country. Deputy minister of Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation was also among the participants.

“The key is not to have a one-off conference and waste a lot of time, but to put the key issues on the table and keep them on it,” said Kate Lazarus, Asia lead of IFC’s environmental, social and governance advisory.

With the wealth of natural resources, Myanmar is also one of the most natural disaster-prone countries globally. A Global Climate Risk Index 2020 report by NGO Germanwatch found that Myanmar is the second most affected country by extreme weather events over the last two decades.

“The current use of natural resources in Myanmar increases risks to the sustainable growth that we aim to support,” said Ashani Alles, IFC’s acting country manager, in the opening speech.

They contribute to the country’s development and growth. However, only with the right regulatory frameworks and enforcement, and local capacity to address environmental and social risks, could Myanmar develop sustainably, she added.

Beyond natural risks, societal concerns that are often intertwined with natural resources extraction also pose a threat to sustainability. The need to understand and integrate more than just environmental elements, but also taking social relations into considerations for development projects is also highlighted.

“Myanmar has an opportunity to address environmental and social challenges it faces as more development occurs but we need to make significant efforts to resolve them,” said Kate Lazarus, Asia lead of IFC’s environmental, social and governance advisory, in a statement.

“This includes involving a diversity of stakeholders from across the country to help make informed decisions and tackle the growing environmental and social challenges in Myanmar collectively,” she added.

MEAA is a nationwide organisation with practitioners working on environmental and social impact assessment for both public and private sectors.

From: THE MYANMAR TIMES (MYANMAR) Fri, January 10, 2020

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