According to the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology, Myanmar’s climate is changing, with some observable trends over the last six decades. These include an increase in mean temperature, an increase in overall rainfall in most areas with a declining trend in some areas, late onset and early termination of the south-west monsoon. Overall there has been an increase in extreme weather events and a rise in sea level.
Myanmar is engaged in an active process of reform and change on many fronts, the situation is dynamic and presents great opportunities as well as challenges. Climate change represents one major challenge as illustrated by a recent study that placed Myanmar in second place globally from extreme weather events in the period 1991-2010. The potential impacts of climate change and the current low state of preparedness necessitates a multi-faceted response. The Government recognises that a national Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan is required but not yet prepared and a major part of the GCCA support will be aimed at supporting the preparation of the strategy.
Assistance will be provided to a Climate Change Task Force initially focusing on the core concerned ministries: National Planning and Economic Development, Environmental Conservation and Forestry (MOECAF) and the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology of the Ministry of Transport. However, as climate change is a cross-cutting issue, line ministries and agencies in climate sensitive sectors will also be involved. A Myanmar Climate Change Alliance Unit (MCCAU) housed within MOECAF will provide the expert advice, technical and administrative support for the strategy development. Needs assessments of the key stakeholders undertaken early in the programme will help refining the precise nature of support required e.g. specific training, technical equipment, exposure to the process of strategy development from countries in the region. The MCCAU will also be able to provide short-term expertise for specific tasks as needed.
To mainstream climate change into the Myanmar policy development and reform agenda.
- To strengthen the climate change related institutional and policy environment through sharing of technical knowledge and best practice, training and institutional support.
- To promote evidence-based planning and policy making through pilot integration of climate change into sub-national and local level development planning initiatives
Initially the programme aims to make Government, civil society and the private sector in Myanmar more aware of the implications of climate change.
This will be achieved by developing a Climate Change knowledge, communication and advocacy strategy to be delivered at national and sub-national levels. The target beneficiaries will be policy planners and decision makers, civil society, journalists working in press and television, academia and the private sector. The medias understanding of climate change science and impacts will be enhanced and key government actors at national and sub regional levels will attend major climate change events in the region.
In the medium term the governments’ capacity to integrate climate change considerations in policies, strategies, plans and operations shall be enhanced as well as civil societies capacity to contribute to climate change activities.
Guided by the Project Steering Committee capacity needs assessments of the key stakeholders will be undertaken. The assessments will cover institutional and administrative aspects as well as strategy development skills and office equipment needs. Based on the assessments the communication and institutional framework for climate change will be strengthened. This will include the clarification of roles and development of coordination mechanisms for the government agencies involved in the National Environmental Conservation Committee (NECC), specifically in relation to the (re) establishment of a Climate Change Task Force.
Support will be provided for the preparation of a National Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan, in collaboration with civil society and technical agencies of government and academic institutions. A platform for dialogue and exchange of experiences for the promotion of peer-to-peer collaboration between Myanmar universities and institutions in other GCCA countries will be explored. Existing climate change related technical systems will be assessed, to determine equipment and software inputs required and subsequent trainings and technical assistance for data management, climate observation, climate modeling and impact modeling. This information will be incorporated into working norms and reporting to inform policy development and implementation.
In the process of strategy development it is important that lessons drawn from climate change experience at sub-national and local level activities inform policy making and are communicated to relevant decision-makers in the relevant sectors.
To achieve this a rapid review of existing information and assessments to identify a pilot zone(s) will be undertaken. Then in the selected pilot zone (s) a climate change vulnerabilities and adaptation options assessment to describe the current status of the sub-national government planning process with a view to determining the scope and needs for integrating climate change. Based on the assessment and consultation with appropriate authorities and specialists, guidelines for a call for proposals / small grant programme will be prepared for the implementation of community level adaptation activities.
The first months of the MCCA have focused on establishing the institutional and legal frameworks for full implementation of the programme coupled with activities increasing Government ownership. Activities included:
- Soft launch of the programme in Sept 2013, in Nay Pyi Taw and official launch of the programme in July 2014 in Nay Pyi Taw after the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Myanmar for the implementation of the programme.Establishing institutional capacity and mechanisms for the programme including establishment of the MCCA high-level committee: the cabinet has approved a high level committee on climate change which is chaired by the Minister for MOECAF and has 28 Director Generals as members.
- Establishing institutional capacity and mechanisms for the programme including establishment of the MCCA high-level committee: the cabinet has approved a high level committee on climate change which is chaired by the Minister for MOECAF and has 28 Director Generals as members.
- Initial awareness raising workshops and events – Private sector workshop with Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and industry (UMFCCI), Union Civil Service board (UCBS) training and a Ministry of Foreign Affairs ‘s Officials’ training workshop.
- Coordination with stakeholders involved in wider climate change and Disaster Risk Reduction activities including the DRR working group, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development ICIMOD, the GEGG forum on green energy and green growth.
The first months of the MCCA implementation have progressed well, allowing strong relations to be established between the team and MoECAF and wider ministries, private sector and the civil society .
The formation of the High Level MCCA committee by the cabinet was an additional milestone in the development of the programme that represents significant government buy in and ownership of the MCCA but even more broadly of the process to address climate change in Myanmar.
One of the key lessons that can be drawn from this initial phase is that while the government is proceeding fast with the MCCA, they are still very cautious when dealing with international agencies. Transparency and openness is therefore essential in maintaining the current momentum of the programme.
The next stage of the programme will involve building and keeping up the momentum and proceeding to the implementation of the full programme.
The government will be encouraged to promote the MCCA despite a crowded agenda. This will be encouraged through the first meeting of the high level committee.
The work-plan needs to be revised and updated to adjust to the remaining timeframe.