In October 2016, Myanmar’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation and the Ministry of Electricity and Energy with the support from IFC and the Australian government commenced a country-wide Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the hydropower sector. The SEA takes a basin-wide approach to understand the effects on environmental and social values across Myanmar’s primary river basins. Once complete in late-2017, it will be a tool for decision makers to be more informed of environmental and social risks when planning.
The SEA is a first step to better understand, prioritize and plan sustainable hydropower development across Myanmar; it is not pro or anti hydropower but advocates for sustainability. Drawing on stakeholder views the SEA provides a deeper understanding of the importance of communities’ values and reliance on riverine resources.
There will be no perfect recipe for hydropower development in Myanmar over the next 20-30 years coming out of the SEA, but there will be an informed hydropower pathway for each major basin that takes a balanced approach, replacing the current piecemeal project-by-project planning approach.
In Stage 1, the SEA team gathered baseline information on hydropower development. Multi-stakeholder consultations were held to identify significant environmental and social values across each major river basin in Myanmar. Baseline workshops were held to share the findings of the stakeholder inputs and scientific data collected, which formed the basis of the Baseline and Scoping report. Additionally, an Advisory Group was formed in the first stage as well as six Expert Groups to guide the SEA process on its direction and research findings.
Stage 2 of the SEA focuses on summarizing and assessing business-as-usual hydropower cases, which will provide the foundation for sustainable development recommendations. In this stage targeted stakeholder consultation will continue to address issues including conflict. Additionally, the SEA technical team will finalize the hydropower project GIS database and prepare a draft impact assessment report.
For all resources and reports including Baseline Assessment Chapters, media and publications related to the SEA process,