Opening speech by HE U Win Tun, Minister for Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry, at the “Workshop on Conservation of Inle Lake, the 1st Man and Biosphere Reserve in Myanmar; Management, Plan and Implementation”

Jul 7, 2015

A Very Good Morning

-    Excellency Ministers from Shan State Government and State Parliamentarian  
-    Her Excellency Ann Ollestad, the Ambassador for Embassy of Royal Norwegian Government to Myanmar
-    Mr. Vijay Karmacharya, and representatives from UN-Habitat   
-    Daw Lat Lat Aye, the Team Leader and representatives from UNDP
-    Officials from various Government Agencies and Academia
-    Representatives from NGOs, INGOs, CSOs and Medias
-    Distinguished Guests Ladies and Gentlemen

It is indeed my great honor and pleasure to welcome you all to this workshop on “Conservation of Inle Lake, the 1st Man and Biosphere Reserve in Myanmar; Management, Plan and Implementation” organized by Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry, Shan State Government, UN Habitat, UNDP and Embassy of Royal Norwegian Government, here at this elegant Hotel Hupin, at the shore of Inlay Lake, Southern Shan State.  Also I am very much delighted for having this opportunity to be here with you all and together joining this opening ceremony.

Distinguished Guest Ladies and Gentlemen

Myanmar is in terms of land area, largest country in the mainland South East Asia, and second largest among 10 ASEAN countries. In the country, there are a lot of fresh water resources including rivers, fresh water natural lakes and manmade water reservoirs. Population density of Myanmar is at the lowest position in the region and per capita water endowment is ten times to both China and India. Therefore, Myanmar has an immense potential to create water resources based economic development in the country.

According to geographic position of the country, Myanmar would become the regional trading hub. By means of the trade of agricultural, livestock and forest products, oil and natural gas, it was estimated that the economic development of Myanmar in 2030 would be improved 4 times that of current situation, according to World Bank Report.

Since 2011, leaving behind decades of isolation, fragility, and conflict, Myanmar is undertaking a triple reform in the social, economic and political agendas. In this particular period of transformation, we will be challenged to ensure that growth is environmentally sustainable and inclusive. In this context, we are trying to manage land base resources of the country, such as soil, water, forest and coastal resources by adopting relevant policies, principles and planning. Recently, Myanmar has developed and adopted the national water policy. The national land use policy, related laws, regulations and their directives are developing underway in coordination with related stakeholders.

Distinguished Guest Ladies and Gentlemen

Natural ecosystems are integral part of the water cycle in each drainage basin. They both affect and effected by quality and quantity of water flow. Sustainable management of water resources call for, good knowledge of how water and land use affect ecosystem functioning; preservation of watershed forests; full examination of the potential costs, benefits and environmental impacts of all water management projects; restoration of critical forests and aquatic ecosystems that have been degraded by human activities.

Lakes are important, because they are invaluable for the range of provisioning, regulating, cultural and supporting ecosystem services that they provide. However, they collect and store water from their surroundings; they are often under stress from human activities within their basins and beyond. Therefore, Lakes must be managed at the basin level.

Lakes have a unique set of characteristics. Specific characteristics of lakes requiring consideration for management purposes are their integrating nature, long retention time and complex response dynamics. Given these characteristics, Lake Basin management is difficult. But, recent years have seen the rise of the Integrated Lake Basin Management (ILBM) paradigm as a keystone approach for local, national and even international efforts. The ILBM approach is rooted in six pillars of governance; institutions, policy, participation, technology, information, and finance.

Internationally, deterioration of fresh water lakes share common issues such as degradation of land, wetland and forest; loss of habitats and biodiversity; pollution from point and non-point sources and eutrophication; inefficient water use management and climate change; and weak in governance, policy and institution.

Distinguished guests ladies and gentlemen

Now, let me comeback to Inle lake conservation activities. As you all are aware, southern Shan State is blessed with diverse landscapes comprised of lands, forests, water bodies and moderate weather, while it is a unique and highly valued cultural and historical region and of socioeconomic importance in the country. Especially, Inlay Lake in Shan State is a unique feature with attributes of elegant esthetic view, rich in biodiversity including endemic species, attractive destination for travelers and invaluable socio-cultural heritage in Myanmar. Therefore, government of Myanmar committed to conserve and rehabilitate the Lake as a national responsibility contributing substantial effort.

Being a diverse wetland ecosystem, richness in biodiversity and species endemism including rare and endangered species, Inle Lake was classified as an ASEAN Heritage Site. The updated development in Inle Lake conservation is, let me say proudly, that the International Co-coordinating Council of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) has added Inle Lake to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, during a meeting taking place in Paris from 8 to 12 June. Now the total number of sites in the network of Biosphere Reserves is amounted to 651 in 120 countries.

For your information, Man and the Biosphere Programme is an intergovernmental scientific programme set up by UNESCO in the early 1970s with the aim of improving the interaction between people and their natural environment, on a global scale. Biosphere reserves are places for learning about sustainable development aiming to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity with the sustainable use of natural resources.

Through implementation of MAB programme in Inle Lake Region, we may some extent contribute to the UNESCO’s mission for Natural Science Sector “by using science to build peace, to eradicate poverty and to promote sustainable development”. The comprehensive presentation on MAB Programme and its advantages will be explained in the workshop session by Forest Department officials.

Distinguished Guests Ladies and Gentlemen
 Today’s occasion is a launching workshop aiming at formally start the implementation of Inle Lake Long Term Restoration and Conservation Plan, developed by MOECAF and UN-Habitat and financially supported by Royal Norwegian Government; and the 5 year Inle Lake Conservation Plan (2015-16 to 2019-20) developed with technical and financial support of UNDP. The UN-HABITAT plan on the one hand has a nature of a framework plan and UNDP plan has characteristics of an action plan on the other.
The second plan is developed based on the Long Term Plans formulated by UN-HABITAT and IID, and adapted from the dossier of UNESCO MAB for Inle Lake. Both plans are developed following philosophy of Integrated Lake Basin Management, in short commonly known as ILBM. ILBM is a way of thinking that assists lake managers and stakeholders in achieving sustainable management of lakes and their basins.
Distinguished Guests Ladies and Gentlemen
I sincerely believe that both plans will play key roles for and be instrumental to integrated management of Inle Lake and its natural resources in harmony with the MAB Programme, thereby resulting in a sustainable development of the region.  
On behalf of the Government of Myanmar, I would like to extend my gratitude to UN Organizations in Myanmar, UNDP and UN-Habitat for their restless efforts contributing technical and financial supports in formulation of these two plans and, UNESCO for its invaluable supports to add Inle Lake in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
My special thanks go to Royal Norwegian Government and people for generous contribution in terms of finance and technical expertise not only for Inle Lake conservation, but also for overall conservation of environment and natural resources in Myanmar.   

In conclusion,

Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry strongly committed to support implementation of plans so that the goals and objectives set for the plans are accomplished in efficient and effective manner.
Finally, I would like to encourage all of you to contribute to the best of your capacities and capabilities, your greatest mission and commitment to achieve our common objectives of the workshop.

I wish you all a very successful workshop.

Thank you very much.

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