By Pyae Thet Phyo
Naypyitaw, Myanmar, December 12, 2016
Myanmar will get a new national environmental policy in early 2017, say officials from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation. The retooled version will update the 22-year-old policy currently in place.
Speaking at the final round of national consultations on December 9, the deputy director general of the Department of Environmental Conservation, U Than Aye, said the ministry has been working with the UN to develop the framework, which will soon be finalised and presented to the Union government for endorsement. Since the end of November, the policy has made the rounds in five state and region consultation workshops.
“We have drawn up the policy a number of times and have discussed it with relevant departments across the states and regions. The policy will include the suggestions and opinions we garnered from these discussions. A final draft will be released once we incorporate these last points,” U Than Aye said.
Once the final draft is complete, the national environmental policy will be submitted to the National Environmental Conservation and Climate Change Central Committee. From there, it will be submitted to the president, who will begin the implementation process.
According to U Than Aye, the key issues that the policy will address are environmental harm caused by the exploitation of natural resources, pollution and waste caused by the proliferation of factories and the global threat of climate change.
Previously released drafts of the policy have divided the 20 guiding principles into three categories: “clean environment and healthy, functioning ecosystems”, “sustainable development” and “mainstreaming environmental protection and management”.
According to Martin Cossier, an international consultant for the UN Development Programme, deforestation continues to pose a key challenge to Myanmar’s future, especially as climate change begins to take its toll.
Businesses that cause damage to the environment should be required to pay compensation, he added.
“Focusing on the economy without environmental conservation cannot lead to development. In order for the country to prosper, people need to combine economic concerns with environmental conservation,” he said at the December 9 national-level consultation in Nay Pyi Taw.
Translation by San Layy,Khine Thazin Han and Win Thaw Tar