Burma

Parliament Paves Way for Environmental, Ecological Conservation with IPBES Membership Approval

By The Irrawaddy 15 May 2019

YANGON—Myanmar’s Parliament has approved the country’s membership in the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) to participate in fighting against global climate change while accelerating environmental and ecological conservation at home.

Initiated by Myanmar President U Win Myint, the membership proposal was welcomed by more than a dozen lawmakers.

For Myanmar, the timing that it joins the Bonn-based independent, intergovernmental body—founded in 2012 to strengthen the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity—coincides with the country’s unusual experiences with climate change.

Currently, the country’s 54.10 million people have been suffering from record-high summer temperatures—up to 46 degrees Centigrade (115 Fahrenheit) in some areas. Environmentalists have blamed deforestation due to excessive logging in previous decades for the severe. At the same time, the country’s diverse ecological system is under threat due to shrinking habitats and irregular weather patterns caused by climate change.

During the parliamentary discussion on Tuesday, quoted the 2017 Global Climate Change Index, saying that Myanmar was the third most vulnerable country to the negative effects of climate change. Some said Myanmar’s failure to cooperate with international environmental organizations to make the country’s central region, the dry zone, greener, will make the region uninhabitable in the future due to rising temperatures.

Lawmaker Daw Pyone Kathy Naing said environmental and ecological conservation should be prioritized, and that the failure to prioritize it previously has resulted in the loss of millions of acres of forest and the mushrooming of not-so-environmentally-friendly human settlements.

“If our world today is experiencing a climate emergency, Myanmar is coping with an environmental emergency,” she said.

Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation Deputy Minister U Ye Myint Swe told Parliament that Myanmar’s membership in IPBES will benefit the country’s ecological conservation efforts and bring it scientific and policy-relevant knowledge on climate change.

Currently, IPBES has over 130 member states. A large number of NGOs, organizations, conventions and civil society groups also participate in the formal IPBES process as observers, with several thousand individual stakeholders, ranging from scientific experts to representatives of academic and research institutions.

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