Yangon, Myanmar, May 22, 2018–IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and the Myanmar Government have released a draft strategic environmental assessment (SEA) report to improve the sustainability of the country’s hydropower sector. Myanmar’s Ministry of Electricity and Energy (MOEE) and Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (MONREC) led the report which has been shared with stakeholders for public review and feedback.
For the past 18 months, the SEA process has engaged stakeholders from civil society, NGOs, private sector, financial institutions and development. Comments and feedback have been gathered, culminating in a host of recommendations or sustainability pathways for Myanmar’s hydropower sector. One key recommendation outlined in the SEA is to preserve the mainstems of Myanmar’s key rivers – including the Ayeyarwady, Thanlwin and Chindwin among others - encouraging decision makers to explore locations that have less environmental, social and cultural risk.
“Our department has reviewed the SEA final report and recommendations, and we agree with the direction it is pointing hydropower development in,” said U Hla Maung Thein, Director General, Environmental Conservation Department, MONREC. “Recommending to protect the mainstems of Myanmar’s key rivers would be a monumental achievement with multiple socio-economic benefits, keeping the natural ecosystems of our country. We hope to see this recommendation moved forward by decision makers.”
Myanmar’s SEA focuses on the country’s hydropower potential while mapping out environmental and social complexities. The SEA will identify opportunities to sustain natural river basin processes that regulate and maintain river health and other ecosystems services. A river basin designated as low- or medium-risk is not necessarily a green light for development. Instead, these areas may provide higher scope for development than other potential biodiversity hotspots, areas of cultural importance, or affected by conflict.
“The government of Myanmar has been working to strike a balance between meeting energy needs, and addressing environmental and social values that have emerged during the SEA process,” said Vikram Kumar, IFC Country Manager based in Yangon. “We hope the SEA creates a market for more responsible investors in the hydropower sector and helps to raise environmental and social standards.”
Daw Mi Mi Khaing, Director General of Department of Electric Power Planning, MOEE, said: “The SEA is a first step in the right direction. This is the first time we have a basin-wide perspective on environmental and social values, which will help decision makers better site hydropower projects.”
Upon review of all stakeholder comments, the SEA Final Report will be published online in English and Myanmar and shared among Myanmar’s stakeholders. A concise summary will also be made available in English, Myanmar and select ethnic languages.
Since September 2015, IFC, with support from the Australian government, has helped the government of Myanmar better manage risk by training officials on environmental and social standards in the hydropower sector. Ongoing training includes courses on IFC’s Performance Standards — which was recently launched in Myanmar language — environmental flows, cumulative impact assessment and management, stakeholder engagement and benefit sharing, as well as environmental and social impact-assessment guidelines for the hydropower sector.
For more information on the SEA process, visit the SEA resource page online, here.
IFC—a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in the toughest areas of the world. In FY17, we delivered a record $19.3 billion in long-term financing for developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to help end poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org