Myanmar SRJS programme - Photo by Photo by Zaw Htet

Report: Achievements and lessons learned following conservation efforts in Myanmar’s Tanintharyi Region

Myanmar’s Tanintharyi Region was one of the focus areas of our Shared Resources Joint solutions (SRJS) programme. From 2017 until 2020 five of our partners in Myanmar worked together to reverse the human – and environmental rights violations in the region. Together, they developed a comprehensive report as a portfolio of their achievements and lessons learned.

Human – and environmental rights violations

Tanintharyi Region is the most southern region of Myanmar. It is characterized by exquisite coastline and beaches, mountains and forests together with different customary communities. Its richness in biodiversity and natural resources, is attracting many investments and related businesses that are intruding in the region and starting unsustainable and irresponsible projects. Many human rights violations (such as land grabbing, forced eviction and denying customary land practices) and environmental rights violations (including deforestation, polluting air/water and imprudent extraction of natural resources) are continuing till now.

Shared Resources Joint Solutions programme

To reverse these violations, conserve the nature and biodiversity and improve the situation of customary communities, Dawei Development Association (DDA), Tenasserim River and Indigenous Peoples’ Network (TN), Southern Youth (SY), Green Network Mergui Archipelago (GN) and Myeik Lawyers Network (MLN) collaborated as Myanmar partners in IUCN NL’s SRJS programme between 2017 and 2020.

After a civil war between the army of Myanmar and the ethnic minorities that has lasted 70 years, there has been a formal cease fire, since 2015. Since that time, major investors have shown an interest in the country’s natural capital. Refugees and internally displaced persons wishing to return to their ancestral territories are confronted with the fact that their land has been taken over by businesses that are using it to start large-scale agriculture and mining projects. In the new political space that has been created by the civilian government since 2015, CSOs have submitted growing numbers of complaints to the government about unlawful land use. The military coup in February 2021 brought an end to the process of democratisation, and once again the population, communities and nature are at the mercy of the whims and interests of the army. Despite the disruption to the democratisation process, it remains essential that local organisations in Myanmar continue their work regarding conservation, community management and community rights.

Results of collaborative conservation efforts

Early 2021, the SRJS consortium (IUCN NL and WWF NL) was wrapping up its 5-year programme (4 years in Myanmar) and so did the Myanmar partners – taking stock of their activities and results contributing to the collaborative conservation efforts in southern Myanmar. Many intended and unintended results have been harvested throughout the years thanks to the continuous hard work and commitments.

It is worth to mark these collaborative efforts and to stimulate inspirational ideas to sustain these outcomes. This report is developed as a portfolio of the SRJS Myanmar partners’ achievements and lessons learned and to provide suggestions for new programmes pursuing conservation and environmental justice efforts.

Download the report here:

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Evelien van den Broek
Senior Expert Environmental Justice