IUCN’s approach in Myanmar is to strengthen the technical and operational capacity of NGO and government partners working on issues of global conservation significance. To date, our work has focused on coastal and freshwater wetlands because these are some of the biologically richest and most vulnerable ecosystems nationally and regionally.
In 2013, we have continued working with the Forest Department (FD) of the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry (MOECAF) and the Myanmar Environmental Rehabilitation-conservation Network (MERN), a network of 16 local environmental NGOs, on a range of activities. These include:
- Work with the Forest Department to develop a 5-year strategic plan for investment in protected area-strengthening activities at key sites by the Norwegian Directorate of Nature Management (DN). IUCN played a coordination role alongside the Ramsar Secretariat in order to help the FD and DN identify key sites for investment, identify priority activities and potential partner organizations, and develop work-plans for both immediate interventions and longer-term initiatives.
- Assist MERN to implement the project Supporting Local NGOs for Improved Environmental Management and Governance in Myanmar. This project, financed by the EU’s Non-State Actors (NSA) Programme and the DfID/Sida-funded Pyoe Pin Programme, provides grants of up to US$25,000 to MERN members. The first call for proposals was issued in July 2013; nine proposals were received, eight of which were for coastal areas. These are currently being evaluated. In August 2013, extended interviews and site visits were carried out with all 16 members of MERN as the basis of a members’ needs assessment.
- Work with MERN to implement Phase II of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund’s (CEPF) investment in the Indo-Burma Hotspot. This is another grant-making programme that will provide small grants of up to $20,000 and large grants of over US$20,000 (median size of about US$150,000) to civil society and private sector organizations working on biodiversity conservation in Myanmar. MERN will be the lead implementing partner in Myanmar, and will have responsibility for advertising the call for proposals, constituting and facilitating a National Advisory Committee, reviewing applications, and assisting IUCN with monitoring, evaluation and capacity building.
- Assist MERN to implement the Myanmar component of the Forest & Farm Facility (FFF), a grant-making programme led by FAO with support of IIED, the London-based environmental policy research center and IUCN, to support the formation and strengthening of smallholder farmer producer groups in forest landscapes. In response to the first call for proposals, which was issued in June 2013, grants of up to US$15,000 will be provided to six projects, four of which are in coastal areas.
- Assist MERN to complete the report of the Workshop on Conservation and Sustainable Management of the Coastal and Marine Ecosystems of Myanmar, held in Yangon in November 2012. This will also form the basis for a draft coastal and marine strategy that will be completed by the end of 2013. This strategy will then form the basis of the Mangroves for the Future (MFF) National Strategy and Action Plan (NSAP), which will be completed in 2014 as Myanmar prepares for full MFF membership. Pyoe Pin has agreed to co-finance workshops that MERN will organize to assist Myanmar’s preparation.
- Provide FD and MERN staff opportunities to participate in regional capacity building and knowledge sharing events. In August 2013, three FD and MERN staff attended a MFF training course on mangrove restoration and management. In July 2013, a MERN representative attended the CEPF Regional Implementation Team (RIT) training course in Bangkok. In September 2013, a MERN representative will also take part in the RIT exchange event in Washington, DC that will bring together CEPF RIT members from hotspots all around the world to share experience and best practices of managing a grant-making programme.
- With support from UNESCO, IUCN is developing Myanmar’s Tentative List of natural World Heritage Sites, including coastal and marine sites. This project will include a national workshop in Nay Pyi Taw in November 2013.
- With support from the Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem Project (BOBLME), IUCN will carry out an in-depth situation analysis of the Myeik Archipelago, an area that was identified at coastal workshop in 2013 in Yangon as being one of the highest priorities in the country in need of enhanced conservation management.