The Video message - Opening Remarks by Ms. Renata Lok-Dessallien, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Myanmar at the Workshop on Conservation of Inle Lake, the 1st UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve in Myanmar:Plans, Implementation and Management

Jul 7, 2015

Your Excellency U Win Tun, Union Minister for Environmental Conservation and Forestry,

Your Excellency U Sai Aik Paung, Shan State Minister for Forestry and Mining,

Honorable Ministers of the Shan State Governments, Shan State Parliament,

Director General U Nyi Nyi Kyaw of Forest Department, Union Ministry for Environmental Conservation and Forestry,

Your Excellency, Ms. Ann Ollestad, the Ambassador of Norway,

Senior Officials from the Union and State Governments,

Representatives from UN agencies, NGOs and Civil Society Organizations,

Distinguished Guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Mingalarbar, Mai Sun Kha, and a very good morning.

On behalf of the United Nations, please accept my warm greetings and sincere wishes for your good health. and well-being.

Also, please accept my sincere apologies for not able to join you all in this event in person, due to an avoidable travel outside the country. I deeply regret missing this important event to launch the Inle Lake Long-term Plan along with the 5-Year Action Plan (2015-2016 to-2019-2020) and to inform the Inle Lake communities about the inscription of Inle Lake as Myanmar’s very 1st UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Reserve.

Warmest Congratulations for all your efforts on these important endeavors and achievement. On behalf of UN, particularly UNHABITAT, UNESCO and UNDP, let me say how delighted we are with our partnership with the Government of Myanmar, the Union Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry, the Shan State Government, the Inle communities and Civil Society in Shan State and Inle Lake Watershed Area.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Plans are like roadmaps. They guide us to where we want to reach in a certain period of time. The 20-year long-term plan and the 5-year Action Plan for Inle Lake Conservation aim to achieve the sustainable development and conservation of Inle Lake. They are formulated to ensure a balanced approach between conservation and development of Inle Lake, as Inle is a unique natural and cultural heritage of Myanmar and of the World. We need to lift up the human and economic development in Inle Area, Nyaung Shwe District, in next 5 years, 20 years, from its current development status. But, it is equally important to ensure the Lake will be preserved for coming generations. For this, we need to stop the lake from drying up, from narrowing and we need to stop depleting its ecosystems.

Inle Lake is now at a state of environmental emergency due to the impacts of climate change and unsustainable natural resource use. The lake water surface is shrinking, from 104 square miles in 1934 to just 63 square miles in 2007. The lake bed has silted up by about 2 meter. These negative impacts on Inle Lake originated many years ago, from different factors including human and natural. Reversing these trends, from depletion to conservation and sustainability, cannot be done overnight, nor can they be done single handedly through only one approach. Reversing the trends requires a range of approaches working together in a holistic way.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

As you know Inle Lake has been inscribed as a UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Reserve. This is the first Biosphere Reserve in Myanmar to become one of (651) biosphere reserves in the world. How will this help Inle?  I believe this will come out of the discussions in this event. In my view; it is simple: we need nature and nature needs us. We need nature for its beauty and for our daily living. And nature needs us to respect and protect it. Without nature, man does not exist. The UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Reserve award places the global spotlight on Inle lake. It focuses our attention in a concentrated way on this beautiful yet threatened lake area. It galvanizes us all to find the right balance between human activity and nature’s sustainability. It does this, by raising Inle Lake’s visibility and importance, not only for Shan State, not only for Myanmar, but for the World.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

After developing the plans, they must now be implemented. The driver and the driving engine are the most important elements for implementation. A responsible and accountable management body, and financial and technical resources are key for implementation. Equally important is the participation and collaboration of government departments across all sectors, civil society and the communities residing in the Inle area. I know there were a series of discussions on the Inle Lake authority last year among Inle Lake stakeholders, including the Shan State Government, the Union Ministry and with the technical support from UN agencies. I’m very pleased to know that the Terms of Reference of the Inle Lake Authority have been discussed last week in the Shan State Cabinet and are now in the final stages of approval.

As we move from planning to implementation, it is heartening to know we have a good pool of partnerships: the Union and State Government and the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry, the UN agencies, International and local NGOs, the private sector (in particular the Tourism industry), the local community, and civil society.  We still need to discuss more on how best to pool together our resources for the maximum benefit of Inle Lake and its community. I hope this will be part of the discussion today, too.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Before I conclude, once again let me congratulate the Shan State Government, the Union Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry, and the Inle Lake Community for the Inle Lake long-term conservation plan, and the 5-year Action Plan (2015-2016 to 2019-2020), and for the inscription of Inle Lake as a UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Reserve. This is a major accomplishment. I would also like to express my heartfelt thanks to the Norwegian government for its generous support to enable all this to happen. And I would like to thank UNHABITAT and UNESCO for their technical support alongside UNDP during the process. UNHABITAT provided technical assistance to the Ministry for developing the long term plan, UNDP for the 5 years plan and, UNESCO for the nomination process for Man and the Biosphere Reserve listing.

Thank you all. I wish all of you the most the fruitful and productive workshop today.

Thank you.  

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