Myanmar is a country rich in natural resources including oil, gas, minerals, gems, an abundance of water, fertile land and forest resources. Despite its resource wealth, the country is ranked among the poorest in the region with about a quarter of the population living in poverty. The recent opening up of the country has sparked great interest by international investors to exploit those resources. The large-scale investments in the oil, gas and energy sectors, as well as the agricultural and mining sector often focus on the ethnic border areas which have experienced decades of conflict and war economies. If the increasing foreign direct investment, particularly in the resource rich border areas, is not properly managed or regulated, it could deteriorate the situation of the regions surrounding these resources and increase pressure on already vulnerable local communities. The Heinrich Böll Stiftung, together with its local partners, seeks to promote a fair, transparent and sustainable management of Myanmar’s natural resources.
With recent announcements about the extension of Thilawa to Zone B and the planned construction of a fourth Special Economic Zone in the Yangon Region, it is important for Myanmar to draw on lessons learned and avoid negative repercussions on local communities. A new report by HBS Myanmar assesses social impacts entailed by the initial construction stages in Thilawa and Dawei, where thousands of villagers lost their land and livelihood opportunities.
Myanmar, being a member of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), is a net exporter of energy to its neighbors like China who get the lion‘s share of the country’s generated power. Energy production has so far been more harmful than helpful especially to people who live close to the production-sites. Plans from 2011, making the Thanlwin River a source of hydropower, now offer a chance to the NLD-led government to perform good governance.
The Myanmar Office of Heinrich Böll Foundation is seeking to the next possible date a full-time Program Coordinator Resource Governance and Development (natural resource governance; environmental and social justice; impact of FDI and ODA in Myanmar’s development) to join our Yangon team.
Myanmar is currently undergoing a threefold transition from (1) an authoritarian system to democratic governance, (2) from a centrally-directed economy to a market-oriented economy and (3) from a state of civil war to having a peaceful coexistence among the many ethnic groups residing in the country. Much attention is currently given to the economic development of a country that some have called Asia’s next “Economic Tiger”. The current government welcomes foreign investors to ensure economic growth and turn Myanmar into an industrialized nation. Yet, to ensure a “people centered development” as envisaged by the government an inclusive political dialogue is needed that allows active participation in decision making on all levels from the bottom up. An unbalanced economic development that only focuses on growth and solely benefits the urban elite will constrain a democratic transition and further fuel social conflict. While Myanmar needs the support of the international donor community to fulfill its ambitions it’s development partners must learn from past mistakes and prevent Myanmar from becoming the next “donor playground”. The Myanmar program of the Heinrich Böll Stiftung encourages debates on the local and national level to enable a self-determined and inclusive development process that also respects the needs of future generations.What we do in the field of Political Culture
What we eat is determined by more than just our preferences. Food choices are shaped by availability, culture and global economic structures. Tradition and wealth can influence what we eat, just as trade and foreign investments can influence our access to food. Due to the high degree of economic interdependence, the purchase of a food product in one country can affect the price development in another, ultimately restricting food choices. In short: Food is a highly political issue. Nowhere is this more true than in Asia.
In the presence of State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi three video clips on violence against women, co-sponsored by HBS, were launched on 8 March 2017 in Naypyitaw at the International Women Day 2017 ceremony of the Department of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement (DSW).
Yangon Film School has created three powerful documentary animations based on testimonies from survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) in Myanmar. The docuanimations were created with the support from Heinrich Böll Foundation, the Gender Equality Network, and the Government of Sweden.