​21 APRIL 2020 - Source: UN Environment Programme

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said in his recent report on the Socio-Economic Impacts of COVID-19 that governments should not respond to the COVID-19 crisis by making policy and investment decisions that exacerbate existing crises such as air pollution and the climate emergency.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has made its commitment to "building back better" clear through, among other things, its ongoing work to promote the creation of green jobs and facilitating the transition to a carbon-neutral future. Here's one example from Asia.

Myanmar is widely considered one of the most vulnerable countries in the world in terms of the impacts of climate change. More intense and frequent floods, cyclones and droughts have caused immense loss of life and damage to infrastructure and the economy and put its renowned biodiversity and natural resources under increasing pressure.

Compared to many other countries in the region, Myanmar is currently much less prepared to respond to the challenges of global heating.

"Fundamental to a post-coronavirus transformational and green recovery will be early action on a longer-term agenda to address climate change," says UNEP climate change expert Niklas Hagelberg. "Investments in climate-friendly actions will stimulate economies, create employment opportunities, and increase resilience to a recurrent zoonotic threat."

Over the past few years, UNEP has been involved in a project to help integrate climate change adaptation and mitigation into Myanmar's national policies.

For example, the 2013-2019 Myanmar Climate Change Alliance programme was designed to raise awareness about climate change impacts, build capacity among government officials to address the impacts of climate change, and develop and implement local approaches to identifying and addressing climate change vulnerabilities.

"Mainstreaming climate change into the Myanmar policy development and reform agenda was no easy task given that the programme was established during a transition in governance in Myanmar from military to civilian rule," says UNEP climate change expert Mozaharul Alam.

"Implementation had to be able to navigate the changing landscape of governance as new systems of administration were being developed."

The project was funded by the European Union and jointly implemented by UN-Habitat and UNEP in partnership with the Environmental Conservation Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation in Myanmar.

UNEP led the development of a climate change policy, strategy and action plan, and supported ecosystems-based adaptation in township-level planning and implementation of nature-based solutions.

"The new policies being developed explicitly recognize the increasing threat of extreme weather and other climate change impacts to the country's economic and social development and set out an ambition to transform Myanmar into a climate-resilient, low-carbon society that is sustainable, prosperous and inclusive," says Alam.

Flooding in Theinzeik, Myanmar, in 2019. Photo by Reuters

Project achievements include:

  • The establishment of an institutional structure to coordinate action on climate change at the national level in the form of the Technical Working Group
  • Awareness-raising on the importance of incorporating climate change adaptation and mitigation considerations into day-to-day processes of governance, and also improving local action to improve resilience to climate change and disasters
  • Development of a climate change strategy and policy framework. The project also contributed to the formulation of Myanmar's intended nationally determined contributions
  • The fostering of a group of "champions" for climate change with the greater professional and technical understanding of climate change and its impacts on sectors relevant to Myanmar's economy
  • The mainstreaming of climate change into urban planning, agriculture, education and natural resources' development.
  • The project was successful in demonstrating and showcasing the importance of gender considerations in all aspects of climate change action

A second phase of the project, starting in April 2020, will have a greater focus on the implementation of policies and strategies and the scaling up of other activities, such as the township-level climate change vulnerability assessments.


For more information, please contact Mozaharul Alam: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.