ASEAN ICHR Worksop on Environment and Human Rights

Human Rights the Environment and Climate Change

The AICHR Workshop on the Implementation of Human Rights Obligations Relating to the Environment and Climate Change in Mandalay, Myanmar was a follow up from the Workshop on Human Rights, Environment and Climate Change conducted in September 2014. The workshop was organized and led by the Representative of Myanmar to the AICHR, H.E. U Kyaw Tint Swe, with the support of the Regional EU – ASEAN Dialogue Instrument and additional assistance from ASEAN US Progress. At the last workshop the AICHR was expected to play a key role in further integration of Human Rights Based Approach towards environmental policy making and protection.

The purpose of this year’s Workshop was to develop a deeper understanding on the human rights obligations relating to the environment in the ASEAN context and explore how a regional response may be initiated with the involvement of relevant stakeholders.

The workshop was conducted over a period of two days discussing topics revolving around the current state with regards to human rights obligations vis-à-vis the environment and climate change, environmental impact assessment tools for ASEAN, legal frameworks, the protection of women, children and other vulnerable groups, and a possible framework for ASEAN.

The Workshop was attended by distinguished speakers, relevant ASEAN bodies/ working groups on Environment, national human rights institutions, academia/think tanks, judiciary, civil society organisations and others. The first session of the Workshop was opened by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, Mr John Knox. Mr Knox highlighted key aspects of human rights and the environment and the need to strike a balance between environmental protection and economic development. The session was also graced by Prof. Dr. Nay Htun, who was a former UN Assistant Secretary-General, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Deputy Executive Director and Assistant Secretary-General for the UNDP.

The Workshop benefited from the exchange of views and experiences from expert speakers in the fields of human rights, the environment, and climate change from ASEAN and overseas, including Prof. Vitit Muntarbhorn (former UN Special Rapporteur), Honorary Prof. Jaap Spier, Dr Matthew Baird, and Prof. Dinah Shelton.

Some of the topics that were highlighted included the gap between legalization and implementation/enforcement, the need to place a focus on the marginalized and vulnerable groups, and the necessity to have a fuller grasp of the expertise that ASEAN countries can share and contribute to a possible regional framework.

– See more at: http://aichr.org/press-release/press-release-aichr-workshop-on-the-implementation-of-human-rights-obligations-relating-to-the-environment-and-climate-change-26-27-september-2015-mandalay-myanmar/#sthash.Qu1FbazD.dpuf

Human Rights the Environment and Climate Change

Human Rights the Environment and Climate Change

PACT Mekong Partnership for the Environment Bangkok, August 2015

Presentation by Matthew Baird, Environmental Counsel Asia, at the Shared Solutions: Safeguarding Sustainable Development in the Mekong Region. A Symposium hosted by Thailand ONEP, PACT and the Mekong Partnership for the Environment, USAID, Sweden, and the Stockholm Environment Institute. The presentation was on EIA in the Mekong Region examining the developments in EIA in the five countries in the Mekong Region over the past 4 years.

Shared Solutions: Regional Symposium of Sustainable Development

Opening roundtable
Opening roundtable

Opening roundtable

Over 140 representatives from Government, NGO and the private sector gathered in Bangkok, Thailand to shared strategies and experiences on safeguarding sustainable development in the Mekong Region. The Symposium was hosted by PACT – Mekong Partnership on the Environment, Thailand’s Office of Natural Resources and Environment, USAID, Government of Sweden, and the Stockholm Environment Institute.

DR. Vinod Thomas, Director General of the Independent Evaluation at the Asian Development Bank, gave the keynote presentation on the Business Case for Social and Environmental Safeguards in Infrastructure Lending.

Matthew Baird, gave an opening presentation at the Plenary Session giving an overview of the significant developments in Environmental Impact Assessment in the Mekong Region. He highlighted some of the common themes and challenges in the region.

This was followed by a panel presentation from senior officials from EIA Units in the region. Each of these EIA Directors provided some interesting experiences on the challenges faced by government on EIA.

Presentation on Myanmar’s Environmental Governance

Baird EIA Presentation 5 June 2015

Impact Assessment and ASEAN Economic Community

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IMG_0664

I was fortunate to be invited to present at the Impact Assessment and the ASEAN Economic Community: A Way Forward for Regional Cooperation. This Regional Workshop was held in May 2015 in Hanoi, Vietnam. The Workshop was hosted by the Vietnam Environment Administration, AECEN and Pact with funding by USAID.

The Workshop examined the role of Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) in promoting sustainable development in the Mekong Region and ASEAN.

My presentation was an overview of EIA in the Mekong Region with particular emphasis on public participation.

Vermont Law School EIA Clinic with MOECAF in Myanmar

IMG_0548

Vermont Law School has recommenced a program from 2014 working closely with the Ministry of Environment Conservation and Forestry of Myanmar.The program provides for a monthly clinic on EIA Assessment and Review with the Environment and Conservation Division of MOECAF. It is a great learning environment as the new EIA Procedures are about to enter into force. I also gave a presentation on Day 1 on a Regional Analysis of EIA Laws within the region. The after session included an overview on Public Participation in EIA in Myanmar and an examination of some of the potential issues that ECD will have to address once the EIA Procedures are approved. IMG_0548

Myanmar Govt launches Environmental Information Portal

The Ministry of Environment Conservation and Forests (MOECAF) has launched an environmental information portal. Supported by the ADB and GMS-EOC, the portal aims to provide information on environmental matters.

“The Myanmar Environmental Information Portal (MEIP) is a one stop shop for anything related to environment in Myanmar. It aims to capture the complete picture of environmental state, trend and decision making in Myanmar.

The information is organized in four categories – interactive charts, maps, e-library and news – and can be accessed quickyly through a combination of thematic menu’s, filters and search functions.

The MEIP is managed and maintained by the MOECAF Environmental Conservation Department with contributions from all Myanmar government organizations. The ADB GMS Core Environment Program provides technical and capacity support.”

The Portal can be accessed at http://meip.gms-eoc.org:8080

 

 

National Consultation Workshop on draft EIA Law, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

IMG_9291

IMG_9291

The Second National Consultation Workshop on the draft Law on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was opened by H.E Dr. Say Samal, Minister of Environment, on Tuesday 17 March in Phnom Penh.

H.E the Minister said: “The new Environmental Impact Assessment Law marks an important shift to more transparent and accountable environmental management. With the new Law, we will be able to ensure that all future development complies with the government’s nature conservation and environmental protection standards. This Law will be the centrepiece of environmental management for many years to come.”

The new EIA Law will mandate the conduct of a comprehensive and transparent EIA for all types of development projects, including dams, large plantations and urban construction projects. The draft EIA Law provides provisions for access to information and public participation. These will provide “communities and other affected persons unprecedented rights to be informed and participate” in the planning and assessment of development projects.

The draft EIA Law also provides innovative and best practice provisions on climate change, transboundary impacts, and strategic environmental assessment.

Comments and questions are being sought on the draft EIA for consideration and assessment by the EIA Working group with includes the Ministry of Environment, Vishnu Law Group and EIA expert Prof Richard Frankel and Matthew Baird, Environmental Counsel.

The draft EIA Law has been under development since 2011, in a collaborative process between the Ministry of Environment and Vishnu Law Group. To date there have been six consultation workshops throughout Cambodia with hundreds of submissions received over the process.

Ms. Sao Kagna, Manager of Vishnu Law Group, said: “Vishnu has been very pleased to collaborate with the Ministry to create this Law. Stakeholders from all over the country have been very enthusiastic about the very transparent and inclusive way that this Law was created.”

Bangkok EIA Workshop Report now available online

The Mekong Partnership for the Environment (MPE) and Asian Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Network  (AECEN) in December 2014 gathered EIA practitioners from government and civil society to discuss EIA policy and practice as a tool for advancing sustainable development. Read about highlights and lessons learned in the project report. http://www.aecen.org/events/environmental-impact-assessment-policy-and-practice-mekong-region-safeguarding-sustainable-de

Presentation to Myanmar MOECAF, September 2014

EIA Presentation

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