My action plan in my home countries is watershed management and water resource management. The background of this project is that the Myanmar government and the cooperation companies from China, Thailand and India planning large project dams in the country. 16 projects are currently under construction with completion between 2010 and 2015. It will generate 3,478MW. This will meet and exceed demand needs. 27 additional projects planned to generate and additional 1,555MW. This is roughly 20 times current country demand of 1,555MW while Yangon with 667MW, Mandalay 142MW, rest of country 747MW. The projects underway are large but comparable with regional projects. The projects planned are very large much larger than regional projects. As a result, there are social problems and environmental problems such as conflicts, human rights abuses, indigenous issues, land confiscation, dislocation etc… and environmental degradation. They do not do EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) and SIA (Social Impact Assessment) in some projects. Meanwhile, they do EIA and SIA for some projects but they never disclose and release the actual findings to the public. So projects transparency are very low and contracts are not available to the public.
Myanmar is made up of 8 major national ethnic races, they are Kachin, Kayah, Karen, Chin, Mon, Rakhine, Shan, Bamar. Bamar is the majority population and the most dominate population in the country. Almost all projects are planned in ethnic areas where environmental inequalities are mostly happening and they have less power to against to the projects.
My partner organization is a Local NGO called Spectrum – Sustainable Development Knowledge Network. The organization goal isestablishing mechanisms to enhance the framework for ‘National Development’ in Myanmar, via constructive engagement on natural resource management, development issues and environmental matters. They are actively participating in watershed management in the country. Our aim is promoting natural resource management and development to minimize risks of the “Natural Resource Curse” through encouraging positive engagement approaches of civil society with Government and other stakeholders. This organization has a good reputation in advocacy work with the government, different stakeholders and they also have in watershed management advocacy work, media engagement and public awareness.
In 20 years time, I have strong desire to see public involvement, publication orientation, transparency and accountability in every single projects implementation. Myanmar (Burma) is moving forward to the process of transition to democracy at present. This is a significant sign to see public participation in decision making process. The government will be actively participating and taking action in community engagement programs and social issues in the future. Myanmar has strong environmental law in the future that concern about environmental issues and aimed at sustainable development of the country. Instead of building such a big dams other alternative energy solution will be found. All projects will consider the needs of social and environmental assessments. Moreover, soft power approaches will be used through different stakeholder involvement. The minority or the indigenous and cultural rights will be highly respected. Then, effective impact studies are done, the information is made public available transparently. All the projects are free prior inform consent to who has the rights to know. All institutions, government,host investor companies and home investor companies will devote and compromise for environmental justice.