Myanmar is the largest country in mainland Southeast Asia with a continuous coastline of almost 2000 km extending along the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea. In the north much of the coast is largely undeveloped with poor transport infrastructure, but in almost all coastal areas there is high human population pressure.
Rapid development of coastal areas (following a model of reclamation and/or construction of Deep Sea Ports for container shipping and adjacent industrial development) is forecast with the easing of sanctions against the government and, in particular, the normalisation of EU and US trade relationships. These are expected to lead to hugely increased foreign investment of coastal and infrastructure development.
However, as outlined in the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) Myanmar still hosts a huge wealth of rich biodiversity. In the coastal zone mangroves, coral reefs, sea grasses, sandy beaches and intertidal mudflats are widely distributed and are home to the Irrawaddy Dolphins, the Sea Cow, five different marine turtle species, several globally threatened waterbird species, such as the Spoon-billed sandpiper, Indian Skimmer and Nordmann’s Greenshank and many more, important for fish stocks for artisanal fishery and other livelihoods for local people. Rapid and often unsustainable development is jeopardising the fragile relationship between these crucial habitats and the livelihoods of local people.
This project is aiming to promote the sustainable development, highlighting the social and ecological as well as economic pillar of sustainability and aims to engage with civil society, local and national government, as well as selected companies and investors interested in showcasing sustainable development. In a first phase the project will summarise available information of coastal biodiversity and highlight key biodiversity areas, as well as knowledge gaps, but also assemble information on existing or planned development projects, providing a vital basis for future planning. It will also raise awareness for the need of sustainability in all aspects of coastal and infrastructure development and seeks for partners and alliances in the local and national government, among NGO and private investors.