100 Myanmar citizens debated about climate change on June 6th

Yangon, June 6, 2015 – Burmese citizens were delighted to participate in the public debate on climate and energy organized by World Wide Views (WWV) in partnership with Green Lotus as part of the COP21 that will be held in Paris at the end of the year. It was the first time that Myanmar participated to an event that brings the same day, thousands of people worldwide. For this country that is engaged in a democratic transition and in which there will be a national election in November 2015, vote to express its views on the issue of climate change is a meaningful act.

This COP21 is particular as it aims to reach a new long-term agreement with the ultimate goal of keeping global warming below 2 ° C. Myanmar citizens were invited to express their views on 30 issues, including “In your opinion, who should be primarily responsible for tackling climate change? How the world should deal with the exploration of new reserves of fossil fuels? Should Myanmar take steps to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases? … “

These questions focused on five different themes, introduced by a video: (i) the importance of tackling climate change, (ii) the tools to tackle climate change, (iii) the UN negotiations and national commitments, (iv) fairness and distribution of efforts, and (v) making and keeping climate promises. After the videos, each table debated and the session ended with an individual vote.

The day took place in the garden of the French Institute in Yangon, specially arranged for the occasion. Organize the event outside was a challenge for the team because of the monsoon season, but fortunately the sun has not left the sky that day.

Mr. Sébastien Bris, deputy director of the French Institute in Myanmar, and Jean-Marc Brûlé, co-founder of Green Lotus, launched the day with welcoming speeches. Mr. Bris reminded to the participants the critical issues of this COP21 and how France, as host and holding the presidency of this event has an important role to play in order to conclude the negotiations on an ambitious agreement. Mr Brûlé highlighted the high vulnerability of Myanmar to the impacts of climate change. In the future, the effects of global warming will affect key sectors of the Myanmar economy such as agriculture, forest resources, public health, biodiversity, water resources, transport, industry and energy.

Although 2008 Nargis Cyclone cannot be directly attributed to climate change, participants are keeping in memory this major climatic event which led to about 140,000 deaths. Myanmar citizens are ready to play a significant role to tackle climate change and expect the same from their government and the rest of the world. They expect assistance from developed countries to their country that has already suffered from the global warming without having really contributed to it.

The French institute restaurant distributed beverages (coffee, tea, juice) throughout the day to participants. For lunch and to stay in theme, the restaurant team had planned meals with “organic” products.

An important work of translation has been done to make available the documents prepared by WWViews to Myanmar people. Participants warmly thanked WWViews and Green Lotus to provide such suitable documents (booklet and video) that allow them to better understand the global challenges of tomorrow.

Four medias covered the event: Democratic Voice of Burma, Sky Net, MRTV4, et Kamaryut Media.

 

média 2

Gaihahita, a youth environmental network and friends of Green Lotus, generously illustrated the day:

 

gaihaita

In the late afternoon, some participants wanted to share their opinions and knowledge to other citizens. One participant reminded us that in Myanmar “the problem is not that people do not know about climate change, it is that they do not how to respond to it”. Indeed, one of the problems mentioned during the day is that given the current economic situation of the country, there is a gap between the country’s vulnerability to extreme climate events and its ability to implement adequate solutions. Finally, another participant pointed out that the ongoing development of Myanmar in sectors such as transport, energy, waste management, construction are opportunities to adopt a green economy that is low carbon emitting, socially inclusive and resources efficient.

In terms of moderately concerned results, the figures are clear. All Myanmar citizens are very concerned or by the impacts of climate change. There are also strong expectations toward developed countries. Indeed, 91% of Myanmar citizens think that high income countries must pay more than already agreed on for adaptation and mitigation in low-income countries. Moreover, Myanmar citizens have expressed their lack of knowledge about international negotiations organized by the UN (40%) and see educational programs as the main tool to reduce greenhouse emissions (66%). Apart from this, Myanmar participants position themselves in the global trend. All the results are available here: http://climateandenergy.wwviews.org/results/

Green Lotus wishes to thank the French national commission for public debate, the French Embassy and the French Institute in Myanmar for their support in organizing the event. Green Lotus also would like to thank World Wild Views Alliance, the United Nations Convention on Climate Change, the Danish board of Technology and the French public mission without whom this event would not have been possible.

Learn more about the COP21 at www.cop21.gouv.fr/en

Pictures by Mathieu Willcocks