photo2nd IGES Evening Cafe:
Catching the Wave in Myanmar

photoThe 2nd IGES Evening Cafe, a community of practice for fostering friendly exchange of information on sustainable development among professionals, was held on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 and gathered 21 representatives from international development organisations, Thai governmental agencies and educational institutions as well as the private sector.
Date
20 November 2012
Venue
Tetto Lounge, 12th floor, Anantara Baan Ratchaprasong serviced suites, Ratchadamri Road, Bangkok, Thailand
Organiser
IGES Regional Centre

photo The guest speaker was Prof. Nay Htun, Research Professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, a father figure of sustainable development who has an extensive career in sustainable development spanning the private sector and over 25 years in the United Nations, as well as numerous advisory roles in key environmental agencies and institutions.

Prof. Nay Htun delivered a passionate talk sharing his observations and ideas on the future of Myanmar’s sustainable development, including on the role of the Myanmar Green Economy Green Growth (GEGG) Association, which he founded with like-minded experts to help implement green growth in Myanmar. An active discussion followed, where Prof. Nay Htun exchanged his views with the participants and offered strong encouragement for greater partnerships between Myanmar and the international development community.

< Key Messages of Prof. Nay Htun’s Talk >

  • - The Myanmar GEGG Association was founded as a professional non-profit association with the idea of going beyond the fundamental principles of environment and sustainable development which had been discussed since the 1980s. GEGG aims to be an enabling group within Myanmar to put into practice sustainable, resilient, inclusive and equitable green economy green growth, particularly by fostering national and international partnerships that will mobilise knowledge and resources to Myanmar stakeholders. photo
  • - The success of the recently-concluded 2nd GEGG Forum, held in Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon with high-level and inclusive participation from all administrative regions and stakeholders as well as extensive press coverage, is an indicator of the potential for an alternative, greener development path in Myanmar.
  • - Pressing ahead with the increasing momentum, GEGG is planning to organise the 3rd and 4th Forum annually in subsequent years, and intends to set up Centres of Excellence (CoEs) in Myanmar, starting with Yangon and Mandalay Regions next year. The CoEs are envisioned to host high-quality capacity building activities within Myanmar, and also to demonstrate cutting-edge green technologies (e.g. off-grid LED lighting for buildings) and collect the best of Myanmar’s traditional knowledge.
  • - Instead of acting as an implementing agency, GEGG will focus on catalyzing partnerships by matchmaking the most enthusiastic domestic civil society organisations with sources of expertise and knowledge from abroad.
  • - Prof. Nay Htun believes that the Myanmar government has signaled its seriousness in green growth and requests international organisations to actively engage with Myanmar stakeholders for the benefit of Myanmar’s people and the region.
< Summary of Discussion >
  • - Some concerns were expressed about the readiness of the human capacity in the long-isolated Myanmar, including in universities. Government officials and the local people are already overwhelmed by many visitors from overseas since the opening of Myanmar. Prof. Nay Htun thinks that investment and training, especially at the tertiary level, can use immediate international support. These are urgent and strategic steps to develop institutional and human capacity and are expected to generate multiplier effects. Local capacity base will be essential for empowering local stakeholders to make the right decisions on investments and environmental protection.
  • photo - It is of great importance to minimise the social and environmental impacts as well as to ensure sustainable use of natural resources while pursuing economic development. There exist environmentally-destructive mining and other extractive industries. Myanmar also needs to co-operate with neighbouring countries in addressing trans-boundary environmental issues, such as air pollution from slash-and-burn activities and wildlife conservation.
  • - Lack of reliable basic data and nascent stage of democratic society may be challenges to initiate concrete actions by foreign stakeholders in Myanmar. Nevertheless, it is hoped that the international community will not be deterred and be more pro-active in delivering assistance to Myanmar stakeholders, including non-governmental organisations and universities.

Contact
  IGES Regional Centre
604 SG Tower 6F, 161/1 Soi Mahadlek Luang 3. Rajdamri Road,
Patumwan, Bangkok, 10330, Thailand
E-mail: regionalcentre@iges.or.jp

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