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.
Renewable energy has become a technically and financially feasible alternative to coal and other fossil fuels or large hydro. And in contrast to these traditional sources of energy, renewable energy sources are neither harming the environment nor people's livelihoods in Myanmar.
Approximately 7,100 lives could be saved every year if Myanmar cancels its massive plan to build coal-fired power plants, and instead invest on renewable energy to meet the country’s electricity demand.
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 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
Informal humanitarian operations continue to provide important services for many communities along the Thai-Burma/Myanmar border. However, since the 2015 Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, these essential service providers are increasingly sidelined, both politically and financially.
In 1967 the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was founded. This dossier sheds light on the institutional framework of ASEAN and analyses with contributions by civil society and academia, where social and ecological justice has, or should have, its place in Southeast Asia.