Southeast Asia Studies Seminar Program
The MacMillan Center at Yale University
Oct 29 , 2012


"Civil Society Space for Environmental Democracy and Governance in Myanmar"

Win Myo Thu, Co-founder/Managing Director, ECODEV, Myanmar

Win Myo Thu
(Mr) is a Myanmar national and devoted environmentalist for defending resource rights of the poor and most disadvantaged communities. He studied at Rangoon University, Yezin Agriculture Institute, Asian Institute of Technology (Thailand), University of Wolverhampton (UK), Syracuse University of New York (USA), and California State University (Chico, USA) and earned for B.Sc (Forestry), M.Sc (Rural and Regional Development Planning) and Post-Graduate Professional Certificate on Environmental Democracy and Governance. Mr.Win is a co-founder and managing director of ECODEV, a leading non-governmental organization for advocating civil society development and environmental governance in Myanmar. Of the development projects implemented during last decade for promoting environmental conservation and community based natural resource management, ECODEV was able to not only assure the resource right and land security of the poor by transferring more than 10,000 acres of forest land officially into the hand of rural communities for self management and use but also to create employment for over 200 rural women through income generation activities and value chain development of rural food-processing industry. Energy saving is also a strategic focus of ECODEV and through private-public partnership development, social marketing has been successfully promoted for the sale of over 300,000 energy efficient cooking stoves commercially by private investor in dry zone of Myanmar in order to curb down the trend of deforestation and reduce greenhouse gases emission for combating with global warming. In addition to grassroots development projects, Mr.Win also plays pivotal role at national level for public policy reform in natural resource management sector. He technically consulted environmental authority of Myanmar for developing National Environmental Performance Assessment System (as part of the Asian Development Bank's Greater Mekong Sub-regional Environmental Monitoring Initiative), formulating National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan (NBSAP in compliance with United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity - UNCBD) and implementing article 6 of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for Education, Training and Public Awareness on Climate Change. Since 2003, he has devoted his time and energy for developing civil society network such as Food Security Working Group (FSWG comprising of 90 INGO/LNGO member) and Myanmar Environmental Rehabilitating Network (MERN having 16 LNGOs) in order to create shared learning, collective voices and civic engagement for scaling up the local environmental initiatives to national level transformation.

All of these efforts enable Mr.Win to demonstrate the use of available socio-political space in good faith for reaching the tipping point in promoting environmental democracy even under the difficult circumstances when time arrived and situation favored, especially at the juncture of political maneuver by transferring state's power from former military ruler to present so-called elected-democratic government. In recent years, he led the number of environmental campaigns across Myanmar to express public concern over the dam Chinese investor constructed on Irrawaddy river for hydropower generation. Corresponding to these public concerns, ruling President of Myanmar government has ordered to suspend the construction of the dam in 2011. Learning from the success of such an environmental campaign, Mr.Win and group step up to the stage of continuing fight for land grabbing that is seriously growing in countryside due to rapid expansion of commercial investment projects threatening to the livelihood securities of many rural dwellers in Myanmar. At present, Mr.Win is making innovative effort to develop the Environmental Hotline and Environmental Report Card System for awakening the failed local authority and bureaucrats to improve the enforcement of law in accordance with the existing national environmental policy, laws and compliances. Mr.Win could be reached by winmyothu@gmail.com. Or for more information look at www.myanmaraffairs.com.


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