Ms Renata Lok-Dessallien, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative
Fourth Green Growth Green Economy Forum
03 Feb 2015

Your Excellency U Thein Sein, President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar,
Your Excellency, U Nyan Tun, Vice President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar,
Union Ministers, Deputy Ministers, and other senior officials,
Excellencies and Representatives of Diplomatic Community,
Dr. Nay Htun, the Founder and Honorable Patron of GEGG Myanmar Association,
U Thein Tun, Chairman of GEGG Myanmar,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

A very good morning to you all, Mingalarbar.

It is a great honour for me to be here today in this important Forum. I would like to congratulate the Government of Myanmar, the GEGG Association and its many partner agencies for hosting the GEGG Forum every year, and promoting the exchange of knowledge between Myanmar and international community on strategic choices toward green growth, green economy.

This year’s GEGG Forum is particularly significant. It is taking place in the final year of this Government’s tenure. It is also occurring when all UN Member States, Myanmar included, are busy finalising the global development agenda that will guide us all for the next 15 years. I am referring to the Sustainable Development Goals. And it is occurring as Myanmar is finalizing its own long term National Comprehensive Development Plan. Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Three and half years ago, this Government launched one of the most significant, sweeping transition processes this country has ever known. It is also broader than many other “transition countries” experienced. The Four Waves of Reform and the many sub-waves have touched the gamut of the political system, the public administration, the economy and private sector, the social sectors, and indeed the fabric of society. In fact, it seems hard to find an area of human endeavour in Myanmar that is not reforming and transitioning at this time.

During a transition of such magnitude, decision makers are challenged on a daily, even an hourly basis.

Even the decision making process itself is in transition, with new institutions and processes being developed, including efforts to consult the public on major new policies, etc. During the early years of great systemic and societal changes, such as what we are witnessing in Myanmar, it is often the case that, the old ways have been left behind, and the new ways have been rolled in, but not yet completely and entirely. During such transitional periods, it is easy for opportunities to surface and then, before they can be taken full advantage of, they submerge again, unexploited, due to the sheer intensity of managing so much change all at once.

For this reason, at this time, it is so important to zero in on those opportunities that may not present themselves again for a very long time, if ever, and where extra effort spent today will save millions of hours and effort, resources, and sufferings compared to tackling them today.

The subject of this Forum – Green Growth, Green Economy – represents one of those precious opportunities. The importance of anchoring Myanmar’s economic trajectory on an environmentally sustainable pathway, at this time, cannot be overstated. If efforts to achieve this are successful now, it will result in inestimable savings, not least of which the preservation of the priceless natural heritage of this country and the wellbeing of millions of Myanmar people who depend on it.

The Government of Myanmar has done much to promote green growth and sustainable development over the last several years. Many of the national plans and strategies and policies aim at achieving this.

For example, the Environmental Law enacted in March 2012, and the rules of June 2014. Environmental Impact Assessments Procedures are currently being drafted, with a consultative process. Environmental Quality Guidelines have been prepared and the Environmental Quality Standard is being developed.

So concerted efforts have and are being made; there is no question of that. But, there are still signs of environment challenges. This may be partially explained by the time lag between the adoption of plans and policies, and the time they are implemented. But it may also relate to the fact that it is extremely difficult and complex for any country, developing or developed, to craft a truly green growth, green economy trajectory. Vested interests run deep. Policy coherence across the range of different institutions and strategic instruments that chart the direction of the economy, is highly complex for all governments.

Establishing the right incentives and sanctions to promote growth AND preserve the environment is intricate due to multiple competing imperatives. And empowering the regulatory bodies with the authority and muscle needed to perform their tasks well cannot be achieved overnight. These are the challenges any country faces in trying to chart a course that differs from the dominant conventional growth pathway.

When you add to these challenges the heavy responsibilities of managing the simultaneous, sweeping reforms that Myanmar has launched, the challenges are even bigger. That is why a Forum like the GEGG Forum is so important.

It fosters sharing of important experiences and practices. It brings together academic research with practitioners, science and technologies. And it provides opportunities to bridge linkages across separate disciplines.

The First and Second GEGG Forums started the process of promoting experience and knowledge exchange to increase awareness and promote green economy, green growth in Myanmar. The Third GEGG Forum aimed at moving the greening process in Myanmar forward faster, with special attention on critically important nexus around Energy – Water – Food.

This 4th GEGG Forum will identify more concrete steps to expend cooperation and understanding for Sustainable Natural Resources, Social and Economic Development by taking into account the milestones that the government and people of Myanmar have built in recent years.

This 4th GEGG Forum will identify more concrete steps to expend cooperation and understanding for Sustainable Natural Resources, Social and Economic Development by taking into account the milestones that the government and people of Myanmar have built in recent years.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

As this special year of 2015 begins to unfold—this year of important change and transition in Myanmar, as well as globally, as the SDGs take final form—I wish this GEGG Forum all success, and extend the UN’s grateful thanks to the Government of Myanmar, the GEGG Myanmar and all the many institutions and persons for their partnership and collaboration in this important Forum.

Thank You