We would like to correct some inaccuracies in stories published in Myanmar which misrepresent a stakeholder consultation meeting organized by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in Taunggyi on Thursday, September 12, 2019.
There seems to be a misunderstanding by some people who were not at this meeting about the aim of the gathering. This meeting was convened to hear from people their views about the overall collective environmental and social impacts of any hydropower developments within the Myitnge river basin. IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is not promoting projects through this consultative process, but rather looking into the potential cumulative environmental and social impacts of hydropower and other renewable energy developments.
IFC has been engaging in extensive consultations in Myanmar since 2014 to help the country meet its needs for power sustainably and transparently. This is why, as a development organization with high environmental and social standards, we have undertaken consultations with a broad range of stakeholders within the country to help decision makers understand that hydropower projects need to be developed to high standards.
Over the last two years, IFC has held consultations with NGOs, international organizations, as well as the private sector and government, to develop a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the hydropower sector in Myanmar. The aim of the SEA was to help identify low, medium and high- risk zones to guide decision makers and to improve the overall sustainability of the hydropower sector across Myanmar.
The stakeholder meeting in Taunggyi on September 12th referred to in stories was in fact part of a series of consultations underway, not to focus on specific project proposals, but rather to look into the overall collective environmental and social impacts of any hydropower and other renewable energy developments within the Myitnge river basin - in line with the Strategic Environmental Assessment.
The first basin-level consultations were conducted in February 2019 with regional and state governments in Mandalay and Shan states, civil society organizations and villagers to share information about the study's purpose. The latest discussions in September went over the course of a week commencing in Mandalay, followed by local stakeholder discussions in the lower part of the basin and ending in Taunggyi. There have not been such engagements in the northern part of the Myitnge basin, given the environmental, social and conflict risks.
It is IFC's view that as part of our work in Myanmar, as well as globally, it is critical to hear the views of a wide representation of people who could be affected because of the cumulative impacts of hydropower and other renewable energy projects. This is why it's crucial to hear from people and why all stakeholders, including the NGOs referenced in your story, were invited to take part.