Background of the programme

Myanmar has placed high priority on enhancing the protection of its biodiversity and habitats to conserve natural heritage of national, regional, and in several cases, global importance, as well as to secure the natural resources on which a large percentage of Myanmar’s human population still depends. Economic growth and industrialization, deforestation and poor enforcement of environmental laws and regulations however have resulted in polluted water resources, decreased forest cover, destruction of habitats and ecosystems and loss of biodiversity. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Conservation (MONREC) is responsible for policy and management within the area of environment, watershed management and forestry at national, regional and local levels. The Programme is a collaboration between MONREC and Norwegian institutions for improved environmental management in the areas of water resources, biodiversity, and hazardous waste.

The collaboration between Myanmar and Norway on environmental management was initiated in 2013 resulting in the Environmental Programme 2015-2018. The first phase of the Programme achieved considerable progress on several areas: The IWRM project partners, NIVA and Watershed Management Division Forest Department, piloted the river basin management approach in line with the Myanmar National Water Framework Directive in the Bago Sub-basin, established ecological water quality criteria, developed a database, and rehabilitated and supplied instrumentation for the FRI water quality laboratory. The Biodiversity project partners, the Norwegian Environment Agency and in Nature and Wildlife Conservation Division Forest Department, provided and implemented an Action Plan for Improved Wetland Management, and ensured development of a National Wetland Policy for Myanmar, management plans for protected areas were developed, in addition to capacity building and training of staff. The Hazardous Waste Project partners, Norwegian Environment Agency, SINTEF and the Environmental Conservation Department, prepared a draft regulation on transboundary movement of hazardous waste, a draft regulation on hazardous waste management; conducted first-generation inventory on hazardous waste and technical feasibility, prepared a Master Plan for hazardous waste management; and carried out capacity building activities for various stakeholders.

Environmental Programme Phase II (2019-2023) will continue to work on the issues of sustainable development and improved environmental management started in phase I, through its focus on improved water management, management and protection of biodiversity, and management of hazardous waste. The Environmental Programme’s main issues, represented throughout the three projects, have separate outcomes (Table) designed to achieve the overarching programme impact. On the road to accomplishing the combined impact, the projects will cooperate closely when appropriate, and benefit from the synergies between them.

Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan and the Sustainable Development Goals

The Programme seeks to contribute to the goals of the Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan (MSDP) (2018 – 2030) (Myanmar Ministry of Planning and Finance, 2018). This Plan presents the national development vision, vision which has resonance in the global sustainable development agenda, and specifically in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Environmental Programme contributes to specifically to MSDP, Goal 5, Natural resources & the Environment for prosperity of the nation. Goal 5 focuses on the legal, institutional and policy frameworks required to better protect and manage the natural environment and ecosystems, through strengthened conservation efforts, improved development and infrastructure planning, and increased enforcement against illegal natural resource related practices, pollution and other harmful activities.

The Programme contributes to SDGs:

SDG 15.1 – ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements, by promoting broad based environmental awareness, with a focus on integrating conservation practices into development and planning (MSDP 5.1.1); and by improving, status of biodiversity though safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity (MSDP 5.1.7); and by enhancing, implementation through participatory planning, knowledge management and capacity building. (MSDP 5.1.9); and by contributing to enhanced benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services.

SDG 6.5 – implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate, by facilitating for, greater cross border, regional collaboration on water related matters in partnership with sub-national governments (MSDP 5.3.4). 

SDG 12.1 – Implement the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production, all countries taking action, with developed countries taking the lead, taking into account the development and capabilities of developing countries, by implementing, plans for to promote the sustainable use of natural resources (MSDP 5.1.3), and by working for the reduced loss of, and restoration of degraded natural habitats through sustained well resource land use management (MSDP 5.1.4).

SDG 3.9 – substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination; and to SDG 6.3 – improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally; and to SDG 14.1 – prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution, by enabling the goal, ensure pollution levels are not damaging the health of our people or ecosystems (MSDP 5.1.6).

SDG 6.2 – achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations, – by contributing to that domestic solid waste are safely and effectively disposed to promote healthy communities (MSDP 5.3.6).

SDG 11.3 – enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries, by strengthening urban (township centres) governance and related policy frameworks (MSDP 5.6.1.)

SDG 9.4 – By 2030, upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes, with all countries taking action in accordance with their respective capabilities

SDG 12.4- By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment

SDG 12.5- By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse

Caution to avoid negative impact associated with Programme activities

Negative impacts on human rights: The Programme partners are aware that inequalities may exist among different ethnic groups, therefore, without sufficient awareness, project activities may contribute to increased inequalities. Care will be taken to avoid conflicts around issues of religion, ethnicity and socio-economic disparities, by seeking advice on how to enable participation in this context, and by being considerate of language, and language skills required (UNICEF 2016).

Negative impacts on women’s rights, gender equality: The Programme partners are aware of the possible impact of not striving for a balance of gender in capacity building activities, as lack of this perspective can contribute to an increasing gender imbalance. The Programme will have a strong focus on the participation of women and vulnerable groups and promote and ensure their participation in all relevant project activities.

Negative impacts on climate and environment: The Programme partners will ensure that the precautionary principle is followed for those aspects of their activities which represent challenges in terms of possible impact on the environment and their activities complies with the prevailing national environmental legislation.

Anti- corruption: The partners will work towards the elimination of all forms of corruption and use of bribery within their corporate activities. The partners will operate within the framework defined by prevailing national and international competition. The project would be audited by an independent certified auditor.