Yangon, February 19, 2018–IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and the government of Myanmar’s Ministry of Electricity and Energy (MOEE) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (MONREC) are holding a stakeholder discussion today in Yangon to present findings of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the hydropower sector.
“The SEA has been a first step towards raising awareness in Myanmar on the benefits of thinking and planning long-term,” said Daw Mi Mi Khaing, Director General, Department of Electric Power Planning, MOEE. “In the near future, we plan for follow-ups and collaboration to help achieve balanced development as outlined in the SEA.”
Led by the two ministries, Myanmar’s SEA aims to ensure that hydropower development is guided by a more complete understanding of the many other uses and values of rivers, which Myanmar wishes to retain. The SEA takes a basin-wide approach analyzing trends and risks. Zoning plans have been developed to be used as screening tools to guide sustainable development. However, it does not replace a rigorous project-level environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA).
“The SEA has been based on inclusive coordination,” said U Hla Maung Thein, Director General, Environmental Conservation Department, MONREC. “Under sustainable hydropower policy, hydropower could contribute to socio-economic development and environmental sustainability.”
Around 90 people from civil society, NGOs, private sector, and the government are anticipated to attend the SEA stakeholder discussion in Yangon, following over 50 engagements over the past year-and-a-half. The stakeholder discussions today will share results on essential river basin zoning on a scale of low, medium, and high across the country’s eight river basins and 58 sub-basins, highlighting areas of high biophysical values.
“Sub-basins identified by the SEA as low-risk does not mean all projects should proceed,” said U Hla Maung Thein.
Since September 2015, IFC, with support from the Australian Government, has helped the Myanmar Government better manage risk by training officials on environmental and social standards in the hydropower sector. Ongoing training includes practical courses on IFC’s Performance Standards, environmental flows of hydropower projects, and stakeholder engagement. In the near future, IFC will begin building capacity on environmental and social impact-assessment guidelines for the hydropower sector. While IFC is supporting the development of the SEA, it does not have any role in particular projects such as the Myitsone dam.
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