Myanmar already paying the price for climate change

Press release - May 10, 2013
Yangon -- Necessity, indeed, unites. The need to address the catastrophic impacts of climate change in Myanmar is bringing together prominent and diverse personalities - many of whom have held opposing views in the past - together for solutions and action.

In a rare forum recently held in Yangon, scientists, senior government officials, political parties and civil society met and agreed on the urgent need to collaborate for climate change solutions:  an issue paramount to Myanmar’s development. The forum was jointly sponsored by non-profit environmentalist groups Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Myanmar Climate Change Watch and Spectrum.

In a separate meeting, human rights icon, Chairperson of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and Member of Parliament Daw Aung San Suu Kyi told Greenpeace that a multi-party initiative in the country’s law making body would be helpful in ensuring political support for climate solutions. She echoed the recommendation of the forum organisers and participants, that there is a need for a public awareness campaign in Myanmar folks, to prepare the nation – and especially farmers in particular - the impacts of climate change, and allow them to contribute to finding solutions.

The forum also recommended an inclusive consultation process that will involve communities in finding climate solutions; for decision makers to prioritise policies for renewable energy: protection of the forests support for community-driven adaptation in agriculture; for the government and stakeholders to approach climate solutions in the context of sustainable development; and to link national efforts to climate change initiatives in the ASEAN and United Nations.      

Dr. Tun Lwin, head of the Yangon-based non-profit group Myanmar Climate Change Watch and a former representative to the scientific and technical body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) says that impact of climate change affects in Myanmar is already evident, as temperatures rise.

“The particular impact in Myanmar has been not only to increase the risk of disaster but reduces resilience to disasters,” explained Lwin.  “Climate change aggravates the existing vulnerabilities – declining natural resources and poverty – of the country,” he stressed. Myanmar’s agriculture is the key sector of its economy.  Agriculture provides employment to two thirds of the population, contributes more than half (58%) to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and about half (48%) of its exports (UNDP Myanmar).

In the economic review of the Asian Development Bank, the region is one of the most vulnerable regions, with climate change-induced extreme weather events and sea level rise posing significant risks to agricultural production.

In the forum, Von Hernandez, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Executive Director said that “being the last economic and resource frontier of Southeast Asia, Myanmar is well positioned to set a course of growth that avoids the mistakes of developed countries.”  He added, “the international community has an obligation to enable Myanmar to become more resilient to the devastating impacts that are anticipated with climate change. Myanmar, like other countries in Southeast Asia, is already paying the price for a problem they are least responsible for.”

Carol Moet Moet Aye, representative of Spectrum, also highlighted in the forum the need for transparency and extensive coordination with communities for sustainable development.

Contact Persons:

Atty. Zelda Soriano, Policy Advisor, +639175959424,                            

Virginia Benosa-Llorin, Media Campaigner, +63 917-8228793,