Problems

The Republic of the Union of Myanmar is situated on the western edge of Southeast Asia, and is the largest country in Southeast Asia[1].

Storms, floods and waterlogging are identified as key drivers of poverty, and poverty is highest in rural areas in the country. These factors, combined with Myanmar’s high exposure to hazards make it one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change in the world. Myanmar’s National Determined Contribution (NDC) identifies extreme weather events, sea level rise, flooding, and drought as the most significant threats it faces from climate change. Agriculture, water resources, public health, forestry, coastal zones, and biodiversity sectors are the most vulnerable sector to climate change in the country [1].

Climate varies across Myanmar’s different ecological zones, controlled mainly by distance from the coast and altitude [1]. Based on the change between the periods 1900-1917 and 2000-2017 warming has been observed in the region of 1.0-1.1°C, with an apparent acceleration in the rate of since the 1990s [1]

Myanmar’s climate is projected to see increased temperatures, variation in rainfall and an increased occurrence and severity of extreme weather events, particularly cyclones, floods, droughts, intense rainfall and extreme high temperatures. Currently, Myanmar is also experiencing a decrease in the duration of the southwest monsoon season due to its late arrival and early retreat of the monsoon.

Although urbanization is accelerating in Myanmar, the majority of people still live in rural areas (60%) and are employed in the agricultural sector (49%) and therefore remain highly vulnerable to climate change. The changing weather patterns have an impact on the agricultural productivity and reduced soil quality. The planting schedules of most local crops have also been adjusted by local farmers. Such changes will have significant impacts on livelihoods and health, without substantial global action and national adaptation.

 

Causes

In Myanmar, vulnerability remains high due to rapid rises in exposure as rapid development has taken place in urban areas without sufficient protection to natural hazards through the continued development of the country[1].

At present, Myanmar is one of the least GHG emitting countries in the world, contributing only 0.67 tons of CO2e/person, based on 2020 data [2]. For example, according to the 2012 INC, GHG contributions from the industry and construction sectors combined was only 10% of the country’s total emissions in 2000. However, unplanned growth in the industry, energy, transport and urban sectors could increase its GHG emission levels.

Due to its rich forest land, Myanmar is a net GHG emissions sink, and therefore already provides a positive contribution to the global fight against climate change. Despite this, Myanmar is facing serious negative impacts of climate change caused by industrialised nations. In addition, with increasing urbanisation and economic development, and continued deforestation, Myanmar’s status as a GHG net sink may change in the years to come [3].

Responses

​​​​​​Key policies and governance approach

As a signatory of the Paris agreement, Myanmar strives to build a climate resilient and a low-carbon society. The country submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) in 2015 and has since taken steps to implement the INDC through both national and international funding. To build upon these efforts, Myanmar submitted its updated NDC in 2021, setting conditional and unconditional mitigation targets for two sectors, namely energy and forestry and other land use (FOLU). To meet conditional targets, Myanmar will need international support for implementation by way of finance, technology, and capacity building.

Myanmar, through its updated NDC, also aspires to further engage in other sectors to establish a base for setting an economy-wide target in the future. Establishing baselines, information systems and data management will be key to setting new targets through the roll out of technologies to help reduce GHG emissions [3].

Myanmar has endorsed the Myanmar Climate Change Policy (MCCP), Strategy 2018-2030 (MCCS) and Master Plan 2018-2030 (MCCMP) in 2019. The MCCP, MCCS and MCCMP (2018-2030) are the key guiding policy documents defining the country’s climate action.  

Through its MCCP, Myanmar has the vision to be a climate-resilient, lowcarbon society that is sustainable, prosperous and inclusive, for the wellbeing of present and future generations.  The purpose of this Policy is to provide long term direction and guidance to: (i) take and promote climate change action on adaptation and mitigation in Myanmar; (ii) integrate climate change adaptation and mitigation considerations into Myanmar’s national priorities and across all levels and sectors in an iterative and progressive manner; and (iii) take decisions to create and maximise opportunities for sustainable, low carbon, climate resilient development, ensuring benefits for all [4].

The associated Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan is a cross-sectoral national strategic document of Myanmar for the period of 2016 until 2030.  The MCCS has the strategic vision to ensure the country can continue to develop and maintain the conditions for the wellbeing and safety of its people. According to the document, the country must adopt a strategic vision to transform Myanmar into a climate-resilient, low-carbon society that is sustainable, prosperous and inclusive, for the wellbeing of present and future generations. With this vision as a beacon over the next 13 years, Myanmar can organise and maximise the efforts of its government, regions, local communities, public and private sectors and civil society [5]. Myanmar has set a broad range of measures under its Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan, including a target of increasing its Protected Area Systems to cover 10% of total national land area. Moreover, Myanmar is committed to preserving 0.59 million hectares of reserved forests and engaging in management of 0.25 million hectares of forest plantation on public and private land in line with the Myanmar Reforestation and Rehabilitation Program (2017-2027).

As of now, the country is qui developing a REDD+ strategy (currently in draft form) and a Climate Smart Agriculture Strategy (CSAS). The Green Growth Strategy and National Adaptation Plan (NAP) are underway [5].

Myanmar also developed other national policies and laws that are relevant to resilient and low-carbon development including [5] the National Environmental Policy (2018) and its implementation framework (under elaboration), the Disaster Management Law (2013), the Environmental Conservation Law (2012), Myanmar Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction (2017), the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2011, revised in 2015), the National Sustainable Development Strategy (NSDS) (2009), and the National Environment and Health Action Plan (2010) as well as the Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan (MSDP) (2018).

 

Successes and remaining challenges

Between 2013 and 2017 the country has developed a variety of sectoral policies and planning documents. However, as they have been developed in parallel, some of these sectoral policies do not adequately reflect climate change as an important concern [5].  

As any Least Developed Country, Myanmar requires further capacity-building along with access to technological and financial support from the international community to implement its INDC. In order to realise the intended mitigation contribution set out by the plan and meet the nation’s needs with respect to adaptation, Myanmar requires a significant amount of international support. The success of the mitigation and adaptation activities in Myanmar is wholly dependent on receiving sufficient technology-transfer, capacity-building and financial support from developed and more experienced countries, international agencies, donors, and the wider international community [3]. The overall support will be fundamental for achieving the long-term goal of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming well below 2 degrees and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C.

 

Initiatives and Development Plans

Apart from the above mentioned Myanmar Climate Change Policy (MCCP), Strategy 2018-2030 (MCCS) and Master Plan 2018-2030 (MCCMP) in 2019, several adaptation projects and development projects have been formulated over the last few years to mainstream climate change adaptation into Myanmar’s national development agenda entailing the following.

A good example is the Myanmar Climate Change Alliance (MCCA) programme (first phase 2013-2018), by the EU Global Climate Change Alliance funds, and implemented by UN-Habitat and the UN Environment programme under the Environment Conservation Department (ECD) guidance.  MCCA phase 2 will be implemented over the next five years (April 2020- March 2025) and will support the Government of Myanmar to deepen integration of climate change adaptation and mitigation into Myanmar’s national priorities toward becoming a climate resilient, low-carbon society that is sustainable, prosperous and inclusive [6].

Worth to mention is also the work done by  MONREC  With financial support from the Adaptation Fund (AF) and UNDP, through the project “Addressing Climate Change Risks on Water Resources and Food Security in the Dry Zone of Myanmar (2015-2019)”. The project aimed at helping communities in the Dry Zone of Myanmar to cope with the impacts of climate change through establishment of agroforestry plots, community forestry, watershed management, natural forest conservation and rehabilitation of communal/public land and farm boundaries among other projects [7].

Moreover, the three phases of the National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) Implementation Project have been implemented, specifically on Strengthening the Adaptive Capacity and Resilience of Fisheries and Aquaculture-dependent Livelihoods in Myanmar (2016 onwards), (ii) Adapting Community Forestry Landscapes and Associated Community Livelihoods to a Changing Climate, in Particular an Increase in the Frequency and Intensity of Extreme Weather Events (from 2018 onwards) and (iii)  Building Climate Resilience of Urban Systems through Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) in the Asia-Pacific Region (from 2018 onwards) [8].

Furthermore, the agriculture sector holds significant potential to mitigate climate change by reducing GHG emissions and enhancing agricultural sequestration. Hence, the Government is preparing district level plans to foster adaptation in agriculture sector.

 

​​​​​​​Goals and Ambitions

The country, with its MCCS  wants to responds to the opportunities and risks provided by ongoing social, economic and political transition in the context of climate change. The strategy aims to support decision makers to [5]:

  • Provide a strategic response to climate change by identifying interventions that will enable the most vulnerable women and men, regions and sectors to address climate-induced risks and opportunities;
  • Provide a cohesive and coordinated response to climate change by enabling policy makers to deliver coherent policies and programmes
  • Prioritise responses to climate change by enabling policy makers to identify investments that will deliver climate resilient and low-carbon development opportunities for the most vulnerable populations as a priority.

 

Opportunities

[9]

  • Develop climate change mitigation and adaptation plans at local level and sectoral adaptation plans.
  • Launch initiatives on ecosystem based people centric adaptation.
  • Regulate deforestation and foster ecological restoration.
  • Regulate trade and invest in natural capital, including agroforestry.
  • Use technological advancements for adaptation to impacts of climate change especially in agricultural sector.
  • Raise awareness about the importance of incorporating climate change adaptation and mitigation considerations into various governance processes.
  • Mainstream climate change into urban planning, agriculture, education and natural resources’ development.
  • Ensure that urban and inter-city transportation networks and infrastructure are sustainable, low-carbon and climate-resilient for all modes of transport, in particular for mass transit.
  • Promote renewable energy sources, in order to meet Myanmar’s growing energy needs in an efficient way and ensure energy security in a low-carbon manner.
Sources

[1] The World Bank, Climate Change Knowledge Portal. Country – Myanmar. [Online] available at:https://climateknowledgeportal.worldbank.org/country/Myanmar

[2] Hannah Ritchie and Max Roser (2020) - "CO₂ and Greenhouse Gas Emissions". [Online] available at: https://ourworldindata.org/co2/country/myanmar#citation

[3] The Republic of the Union of Myanmar (2015). Myanmar's Intended Nationally

Determined Contribution-INDC. [Online] available at:https://www4.unfccc.int/sites/ndcstaging/PublishedDocuments/Myanmar%20F…

[4] The Republic of the Union of Myanmar (2019). Myanmar Climate Change Policy. [Online] available at: https://unhabitat.org.mm/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/MCCP_2019.pdf

[5] The Republic of the Union of Myanmar (2019). Myanmar Climate Change Strategy (2018 – 2030) [Online] available at: https://unhabitat.org.mm/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/MCCS_ENG_UNH-Websit…

[6] UN Habitat (2020).  Myanmar Climate Change Alliance Programme enters second phase. [Online] available at:  https://unhabitat.org/myanmar-climate-change-alliance-programme-enters-…

[7] Adaptation Fund.  Addressing Climate Change Risks on Water Resources and Food Security in the Dry Zone of Myanmar. [Online] available at: https://www.adaptation-fund.org/project/addressing-climate-change-risks…

[8] MONREC, UNDP, UNEP, GEF, MCCA, UN Habitat (2018).  National Adaptation Plans in focus: Lessons from Myanmar.

[9] UNEP (2020).  Myanmar gears up for action on climate change.[Online]. Available at:  https://www.unep.org/news-and-stories/story/myanmar-gears-action-climate-change