6 Nov 18 - Source: Myanmar Times - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the government of Norway have joined in efforts to save one of the most scenic lakes in the country, Inle Lake in Shan State.
The lake, which is one of the favourite tourist destinations in the country is experiencing environmental degradation due to the combined effects of unsustainable resource use, increasing population, climate change and rapid tourism development.
"The native flora and fauna are endangered by exotic invasive species and the water quality, which used to be safe for consumption, is now contaminated and a source of health problems for the locals," the UNDP said in a statement.
The statement added the UNDP, in partnership with Norway, is supporting the Inle Lake Management Authority (ILMA) to address these adverse environmental, social and economic impacts by providing technical and financial assistance to further enhance the management of the Inle Lake watershed, as part of the project "Strengthening the Inle Lake Management Authority to Improve Conservation and Development".
A project workshop was held in the Shan State capital of Taunggyi on October 29 to share the project design and planned activities, which were developed in discussion with government agencies and local community groups, with a broader group of stakeholders and to formally launch the project.
The workshop was attended by parliamentarians, government officials, representatives of local ethnic groups, and NGOs.
U Linn Htut, chief minister of the Shan State government, highlighted the historical, cultural and environmental significance of Inle Lake for local communities and for the country.
He emphasised the need for a multisectoral and coordinated approach for strengthening the long-term management of the lake area to ensure its future conservation.
The project, funded with financial assistance from Norway and technical assistance of UNDP, builds on the achievements and lessons learned from the earlier UNDP and Norway projects – Inle Lake Conservation and Rehabilitation (2012-2016) and the Five-Year Action Plan for Inle Lake Conservation (2016-2020).
It supports the inclusive management of Inle Lake through the Lake Management Authority, targets an increase in awareness about the environmental challenges facing the lake, and aims to maximise the long-term impact of all sustainable development initiatives, including mobilisation of additional resources to support the better management and conservation of the lake.
Lise Norgaard, minister counsellor and deputy head of mission, of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Myanmar expressed her appreciation for the successful implementation of the first project, and requested stakeholders to continue their engagement and participation under the new project ensuring that the results achieved through joint efforts are sustainable and its outcomes maximised.
Biplove Choudhary of the UNDP hailed the Shan State government for its conservation efforts.
"A strengthened Inle Lake Management Authority will play a key role in ensuring the sustainability of current and planned conservation efforts," he said.
"The UNDP, under its Country Programme for Myanmar (2018-2022), remains committed to supporting the government of Myanmar in strengthening environmental governance and promoting inclusive growth through an integrated and multi-sectoral strategy," he added.
Civil-society organisation representatives also shared the local communities' perspectives on ongoing Inle Lake initiatives and outlined their development needs.