Resource management must be a part of peace talks: report


Source: The Myanmar Times

Date: 30 January, 2018

The management of natural resources needs to be prioritised in the ongoing peace negotiations to ensure their sustainable use and allocation, an international environment and natural resource management think-tank said in a report.

The report, "The Natural Resource Federalism: Considerations for Myanmar," published by the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) is intended to be a reference for the Third Meeting of the 21st Century Panglong Conference.

The report offered several suggestions on how to effectively share management of natural resources between national institutions and 'subnational institutions' under the federal form of government.

"Clarity on who has the ultimate responsibility for legislation, implementation and monitoring is essential," the report said.

It noted that, at present, there are institutional overlaps and "ambiguity is already a common challenge among national institutions."

"When it comes to environmental management, for example, the legal framework gives monitoring responsibilities to multiple Union-level institutions," the report said.

"This creates the risks of none having full sense of ownership or of none being empowered and equipped – with sufficient resources and capacity – to perform these responsibilities," it added.

Daw Khin Saw Htay, the Myanmar associate at NRGI, said that the possibility of success at the peace negotiations will increase if such things as natural resource sharing and management are discussed at the table.

"We plan to distribute this report to ethnic parties that have signed or haven't signed," she said.

NRGI is a free and non-profit organisation, and the report compares Myanmar's situation with other resource management practices in Asia-Pacific.

The report says that leaders and representatives of various armed forces should propose not only to get increased financial profit from the extraction of natural resources in their areas but also to participate in management of these resources.

There has been fighting among the groups while trying to extract natural resources in Myanmar, the report said.

Proposals to increase state and regional authority over natural resources have been surging, and natural resource producing areas say they enjoy only a bit of profit although they have to bear social and environmental impacts for decades.

Although control over natural resources is one of the main reasons for conflict, only few discussions of it have taken place at peace negotiations, the NRGI report said.

The report covers seven policy areas, including licensing for resource mining and production, land record and management, financial regulations and taxation, environmental management, safety and health at work, and responsibility for small-scale mining.

It also describes separation of duties, such as which group does what for legislation, implementation and monitoring, to ensure better natural resource management at the state and region level.

Moreover, it describes awareness of weak capacity, the need for technical expertise, meeting minimum standards, developing new methods to coordinate government activities and the need to consider the role of non-governmental stakeholders, and the importance of transparency to building trust between the national and local governments.

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