5th Green Economy Green Growth Forum – a partial report

5th GEGG

Once again this year, Green Lotus went to the Green Economy Green Growth summit in Nay Pyi Daw, organized by GEGG Association (and its leader U Nay Htun), with the support of Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (MONREC), on November 29th and 30th , 2016. The first day addressed a variety of issues about “Innovative partnerships and Cooperation for Green, Sustainable, Resilient, Smart, Inclusive Economic Growth”, while the next-day was divided into four parallel sessions, dealing with different green issues. The opening ceremony was led by U Ohn Win, Minister, in front of the President U Htin Kyaw, and many other officials. Almost all organizations and companies operating in Myanmar for sustainable development were represented. Jean-Marc Brûlé, for Green Lotus, was invited to give two speeches, about “Partnerships for Sustainable Development” and “Empowering the People on Green issues”.

Nowadays, everybody agrees to say green economy is at the center of the future in Myanmar, and most of all green energies. But there is still a question to answer: what type of new innovative partnerships should be part of the ongoing green transition? Here was the main issue of the Summit.

What was said?

According to Doctor U Aung Tun Thet, the renowned economist, there is an urgent need of collaboration. He encouraged public-private partnership (PPP), considering it as the most efficient way to create innovative initiatives towards sustainable development in Myanmar. Nevertheless, we should “add a P into the equation, P for People” he explained. “We need global, but also to think locally”, he added.

Concretely, that is what Green Lotus is doing, notably with the recent launching of a “14 Regions Green Action Tour”, initiated to promote green solutions (renewable energies, organic farming, eco-tourism, green construction, sustainable cities…) to all the local stakeholders: politicians, regions & cities staffs, civil society, business…

Overall, every intervention was positive on how things will evolve in the near future. In a more industrial perspective, U Kyaw Moe Naing (Managing Director of Kristlite Co. Ltd) explained: “because of the recent change of government, many companies from all over the world are rushing into Myanmar. The challenge is then to create an adapted legislation to limit bad environmental impacts. We do not need to make another round of inventions. But we need to use properly what we already have” he added.

During the roundtable discussions, Jean-Marc Brûlé was, for a part, presenting Green Lotus philosophy and current activities, as they are perfectly in harmony with what was advised during previous speeches: “Now, we are developing concrete projects, while we were so far mostly sensibilizing on green issues. And a large part of our activities aims at touching local stakeholders. We really think it is imperative to democratize the information about green solutions. As a matter of fact, “most people don’t know about ecology. They are just living as usual, and developing new bad habits.”

So the thing is: “we should have GEGG summits every week, and not only in Nay Pyi Daw, and not only for elites”! For instance, people don’t really know that green energy could be cheaper and that there are so many job opportunities in the renewable market… Meanwhile, Mr. Brûlé highlighted briefly the new “14 REGIONS GREEN ACTION TOUR” Green Lotus has started at the end of November.

During the parallel session, he highlighted Myanmar huge economic and environmental potential, and put forward that it could become the greenest country in Asia! Actually, Myanmar is the second most endangered country in the world by climate change (after Bangladesh), but has also the biggest continental biodiversity! But Myanmar has also one big asset: its people.

Another important issue of his speech was about the relatively easy implementation of green projects in Myanmar. In effect, there are many fertile lands inside the country, with high potential for organic farming. So what is limiting this implementation? “We are near the crossroads (but not yet): all stakeholders have to realise, and politicians have to impulse.” And here is something to be done as soon as possible: influence strategic stakeholders. As he said: “If you have democracy, you also have people against sustainable development. You cannot impose them your own point of view, so you have to do lobbying.” Let’s think about it.

Two more things:

– another challenge is to involve more and more qualified people in those projects.

– Costly materials is not a real problem: it’s going to be cheaper and cheaper.

Then, we can see that everything is available, will, knowledge, needs, technologies, fundings…

So what is the problem? It is about organization. We have to combine everything.”

Mr. Ola Nicolai Borge, a Norwegian businessman, insisted in the fact that development should be sustainable in regard to at least three aspects: for resources, of course, but also considering people AND finance. It is important to include a sustainable financially perspective (too often forgotten). For instance, “in Norway, [they] have huge power plants, but also small ones. And those are really helping the economy and the environment” => the excess of electricity goes to the National Grid.

Two take away points

There are two big take away points from this conference.

First, we need more cooperation between all stakeholders (land owners, workers, CSOs, companies, politicians, NGOs, academics). At the end of the day, we have everything in our possession to act. Next step is to get coordinated. And that involved the creation of interactive platforms, as Green Lotus is doing currently.

The other central issue is that we need to change our vision about nature. We have always taken nature as a free driver. Understand the link between environment and economy will allow us to develop smarter and more efficient projects. We need to understand that if we don’t valuate nature, we will not be able to use it anymore!