Decades of war and unsustainable extraction have left Burma’s waterways, lands, and forests cut down, dug up, ooded, and polluted. The resource-rich ethnic states are living under the scourge of an environmental disaster that threatens the very foundation of their—and the country’s—future. Hundreds of thousands remain homeless due to ongo- ing armed con ict, and fundamental calls for self-determination have gone unheeded in a lack of political dialogue.
While Burma’s ethnic states are blessed with a wealth of natural resources and biodiversity, they have been cursed by the unsustainable extraction and sale of those resources, which has fuelled armed con ict. Instituting a system of devolved federal management of natural resources can play a key role in resolving con ict and building a lasting peace in Burma.
Despite some cease res on paper, Burma remains in a state of con ict. Ongoing offensives in Kachin and Shan states alone have left hundreds of thousands homeless. Fundamental calls for self-determination have gone unheeded in a lack of political dialogue to end decades of ghting.
Action Group for Resource Accountability in Myanmar (AGRAM) (formerly the Shwe Gas Movement) is a community-based organization publicizing impacts from the Shwe gas project and the China Trans-Burma pipelines.AGRAM facilitates advocacy and community awareness campaigns to promote human rights, environmental justice and revenue transparency in the extractive sectors in Myanmar.
Shan Sapawa Environmental Organization (Sapawa) works along the Thai-Burmese border and inside Burma to promote environmental protection and human rights in Shan State, Burma. Sapawa was established in 2003 by Shan alumni of Earth Rights School and the Shan State School for Nationalities Youth and Shan communities who had become increasingly concerned about the environmental situation in Shan State. Sapawa’s envisions a just and peaceful Shan State free of environmental destruction and exploitation.
Network for Environmental and Economic Development (NEED) was founded in March 2006. NEED is a nonprofit NGO working to strengthen Burmese civil society so that all the people of Burma may benefit from the practice of indigenous and holistic development strategies, based on economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable ideas. NEED concentrates on the promotion of environmental conservation, sustainable agriculture, and economic development in Burma.
Pa-O Youth Organization (PYO) was set up in 1998 striving for peace and justice through empowering youth. PYO has published several reports detailing community impacts from the Tigyit coal-fired power plants and several mining projects in southern Shan State. PYO continues to monitor the situation and educate communities of the environmental and social impacts of these and other large-scale development projects.
Lahu National Development Organization (LNDO) was established in 1997 to promote the welfare and well-being of Lahu communities, including the promotion of alternatives to growing opium. LNDO facilitates community development projects and awareness raising activities with communities in eastern Shan State. LNDO also conducts community research and has published a series of reports on drugs, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and development projects along Burma’s Mekong River.
Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN) was established in 2001 as the first local community-based organization to raise environmental awareness among Karen people. KESAN works to empower and educate communities and local institutions to revitalize existing indigenous knowledge and practices for increased livelihood security in Karen and in areas along the Thai-Burmese border. KESAN strives to build up local capacities in forest and natural resource management, raise public environmental awareness, and support community-based development initiatives.