UPCOMING EVENTS:

Fifth Meeting of the Regional Technical Working Group on Environmental Impact Assessment

As a result of the first four meetings of the RTWG on EIA, a first draft of the Regional Guidelines on Public Participation in EIA has been produced, translated into the five lower Mekong languages, and made available for public comment. During October 2016, national consultation meetings in each country were held to solicit additional inputs and feedback from interested stakeholders representing government agencies, private sector companies, EIA consulting firms, civil society organizations, academics, and others. In total, nearly 500 people participated and over 2,000 individual comments were received. A summary of the comments will be circulated to the RTWG members in advance of the fifth meeting. Feedback on comments received from the consultation meetings will help inform the main topics for discussion and decision-making at the fifth meeting.

The fifth meeting of the RTWG on EIA is planned for 09-11 January 2017 in Yangon, Myanmar to consider comments from the national consultations and revise and finalize the first draft of the Regional Guidelines on Public Participation in EIA. Discussions on the next steps and future directions of the RTWG on EIA will also be held.

 

 

RECENT EVENTS:

Public consultations on the Regional Guidelines for Public Participation in EIA New

The public consultations were conducted in October 2016 to introduce the draft guidelines and solicit inputs and feedback from interested stakeholders including private sector companies, NGOs, government agencies, academics institutes, and development partners.

Click on following public consultation meetings to see full press releases and media coverage:

October 5            Hanoi, Viet Nam

October 7            Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam

October 12          Vientiane, Lao PDR

October 14          Yangon, Myanmar

October 19          Bangkok, Thailand

October 28          Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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Community Engagement in EIA: A Regional Exchange and Learning Forum

September 21-23, 2016 -Yangon, Myanmar

50 representatives from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) across the Mekong region met in Myanmar to share successes and challenges in effectively involving local communities in environmental impact assessment processes.

At the “Community Engagement in Environmental Impact Assessment: A Regional Exchange and Learning Forumin Yangon, participants explored approaches to helping communities constructively engage with businesses and government to ensure sustainable and equitable development in the context of increasing infrastructure investment in the region

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The event was part of MPE’s work supporting constructive engagement among banks, business, government and civil society to facilitate socially and environmentally responsible development in the Mekong region. MPE is facilitating an expert group of regional NGO leaders and government officials to draft Guidelines for Public Participation in environmental impact assessment. The group is holding national consultations throughout the region in October to get feedback on the guidelines.

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Cambodian Banks Commit to Developing Sustainable Financing Principles

September 19, 2016 -Phnom Penh, Cambodia

The Association of Banks in Cambodia (ABC) took a first major step towards sustainable lending practices this week by committing to develop sustainable finance principles and ultimately work towards integrating environmental and social safeguards and lending standards into their business decisions.

Adhering to these principles can help banks lower investment risks while also preserving the environment and supporting local cultures and communities

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ABC’s sustainable banking initiative is being supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID)-funded project Mekong Partnership for the Environment (MPE), with partners Pact, Mekong Strategic Partners, and the Wildlife Conservation Society. The project aims to strengthen the social and environmental risk management capacity of Cambodian and other banks in the region.

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Community EIA Meeting in Thailand: “Any effort to improve participation in EIA should be encouraged”

August 28-29, 2016 -Bangkok, Thailand

USAID-supported Mekong Partnership for the Environment (MPE) is strengthening Thai communities’ knowledge on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) processes for large-scale development projects that may have impacts on the environment and their communities.

MPE partner; Community Resource Centre Foundation (CRC) organized a two-day National Meeting on “Community Participation in Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA)” 28-29 August 2016 in Bangkok, Thailand. Thirty representatives from community-based organizations, government ministries, academia, and affected communities participated in this national event, in which participants from diverse walks of life discussed the ongoing development in EIA policies and how to improve public participation in EIA for future development projects in Thailand.

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Civil Society Leaders Meet with Cambodian PM, Receive Support for Ongoing Dialogues

CSO leaders credits MPE workshop for helping him with engagement strategies

August 22, 2016 -Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Two key civil society organization (CSO) partners of USAID-supported Mekong Partnership for the Environment (MPE), recently met the Cambodian Prime Minister and were able to earn his support for more formal mechanisms for dialogue between civil society and government.

Following an MPE workshop on CSO leadership, Executive Director of Development and Partnership in Action Mr. Mam Sambath, along with another Cambodian MPE partner Mr. Tek Vannara, Executive Director of NGO Forum on Cambodia (NGOF), attended the Forum on the Protection and Conservation of Natural Resources and met with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. The August 22 forum in Phnom Penh aimed to promote collaboration between government of Cambodia, development partners, CSOs, and local communities in natural resources, biodiversity and ecosystem conservation, and environmental protection in Cambodia.

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Stakeholders Confirm Need for Public Participation in EIA Processes During Cambodia’s National Public Consultation Workshop

August 09, 2016 -Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Key stakeholders related to EIA in Cambodia provided feedback on Cambodia’s draft national guidelines on public participation in the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process during the country’s first national public consultation workshop on 19 July 2016 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, organized by the Ministry of Environment with the Vishnu Law Group and funded by the Mekong Partnership for the Environment (MPE). Over 170 participants, including representatives from government, affected communities, private sector, academia, NGOs, EIA experts and international and regional observers participated in the workshop and the majority strongly suggested that all development projects need to undergo EIA processes before any construction or operation begins. In particular, participants emphasized during discussions and through written comments that the EIA process must include proper conflict resolution processes and projects must obtain the consent of affected people. The development of Cambodia’s guidelines on public participation in EIA stiches together efforts at the regional level led by the Regional Technical Working Group on EIA, also supported by MPE.

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Regional Journalist Network Examines Dams, Diversion, Drought and Difficult Decisions

August 01, 2016 -Loei, Thailand

At the junction of the Loei and Mekong Rivers in Thailand, Journalists from around the Mekong region examined an example of the current mix of stresses on the environment and communities across the region. The workshop “Mekong Matters: Water Governance on the Mekong River” brought 15 journalists from Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam together to examine how various water development projects are causing potentially irreversible changes to fisheries, farming, culture and water supply.

USAID-funded Mekong Partnership for the Environment facilitates the Mekong Matters Journalism Network, which partnered with Thai Society for Environmental Journalists (ThaiSEJ) for this event. The focus was on providing a rich and vivid field reporting experience for improving the reporting skills of the journalists. Journalism mentors, including the Mekong Eye’s editors and international trainers, guided groups of participants to investigate their story ideas through access to a balanced range of sources.

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The Fourth Meeting of the Regional Technical Working Group on Environmental Impact Assessment

July 27-29, 2016 -Chiangmai, Thailand

Regional experts from government and civil society finalized the draft set of guidelines for engaging the public in Environmental Impact Assessment processes. The Guidelines will next be reviewed by the public in a coordinated series of region-wide public consultations in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam beginning in late September and wrapping up in October.

During the fourth meeting of the Regional Technical Working Group (RWTG) on EIA, the 25-member group, supported by the USAID-funded Mekong Partnership for the Environment (MPE), debated the details around project scoping, stakeholder identification, transboundary impact, gender approaches and other issues. By the end of the July 27-29 event held in Chiang Mai, the 15 government and 10 civil society members reached consensus that the draft was ready for public comment and discussed how to best get input from governments, business, communities and others on how to improve the Guidelines for practical use.

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Cambodian Journalists Investigate Dam Impacts, Learn Reporting Skills and Plan for News Network

July 14-16, 2016 – Kratie province, Cambodia

Twenty Cambodian journalists from six Mekong provinces and Phnom Penh attended a three-day workshop in Kratie province to learn how to better report on the costs and benefits of hydroelectric dams and other development on the Mekong River.

The July 14-16 workshop was the second organized by Mekong Partnership for the Environment partner Cambodia Institute for Media Studies (CIMS), as part of their project connecting and training journalists who report on the environment. The workshop was divided into two part: journalism skills training and a field visit to communities who may be affected by dam construction and management.

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Community Awareness Raising for Public Participation in EIA

June 23-27, 2016 – Mandalay, Myanmar

USAID-funded Mekong Partnership for the Environment is helping communities in Myanmar understand the EIA processes related to development projects that may impact their environments and communities. On 26 June 2016, MPE partner Forests Resource Environment Development and Conservation Association (FREDA) conducted the first of two workshops on “Community Awareness Raising for Public Participation on EIA” in Mandalay, Myanmar. The next one will be held in Yangon in August 2016.

Around 40 members of community-based organizations participated in the activity, including representatives from the North-South-Lake communities along the Myit Nge River who were severely impacted by contamination of the waste water from the Mandalay industrial zone.  Most of the participants have no knowledge on these issues and the workshop allowed space for project affected communities and other community-based organizations to understand the new EIA procedures of Myanmar and how they could participate in EIA processes of future development projects in Myanmar. It also allowed them to share experiences and harmful impacts of development projects in their respective communities.

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Mekong Data Driven Journalism and Advocacy Workshop 

June 23-27, 2016 – Yangon, Myanmar

At the “Data, Development and the Environment: Mekong Data Driven Journalism and Advocacy Workshop,” from 23 to 27 June in Yangon, Myanmar, 26 journalists and representatives of Mekong-region environmental NGOs gathered to examine data about the costs and benefits of regional development projects, such as how power plants, hydropower dams or special economic zones may affect the environment and communities. Participants learned how to “scrape” the internet for data sets, clean the data, analyze it, and then how to tell stories using language and journalistic tools to make the data interesting and easy to understand. They also learned how to visualise data – how to turn numbers into attractive and easy-to-understand infographics.

The event, run by Phandeeyar, an Innovation Lab in Yangon. Phandeeyar’s workshop was organized with support from MPE partners Internews, Open Development Mekong, and Pact, which leads the implementation of MPE. The workshop is part of MPE’s Mekong Matters Journalism Network’s efforts to support journalists reporting on environmental issues.

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Webinar:  Public Participation in Transboundary Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

15 June, 1015-1145 (UTC+7) Bangkok time

Mekong Partnership for Environment (MPE) in collaboration with the Asian Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Network (AECEN) organised the MPE Webinar Series on Public Participation in Transboundary EIA on 15 June 2016, hosted by Dr. Peter King. Over 50 Government officials from the EIA department, CSOs along with other EIA Practitioners across Asia and representatives from development partners registered for this event.

This is the third in the MPE Webinar Series designed to provide the Regional Technical Working Group on EIA and other attendees with an opportunity to understand the processes of decision-making on projects with transboundary effects and consider if the adaptation of more transparent, legitimate and active participation approaches can reduce the transboundary impact of development projects.

The session was proved to be quite successful, with receiving over 20 questions from attendees which mainly addressed the importance of integrating TbEIA to be part of the Regional Guidelines on Public Participation in EIA from the very outset and not considered as separate criterion. The topic of the Fourth MPE Webinar Series is to be discussed among the Regional Technical Working Group Members during the Fourth Meeting of the Regional Technical Working Group on EIA in Chiang Mai on 27 – 29 July 2016.

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Communicating for Change: Strategic Communications Training Program for CSOs – Part 3 Communications Tools

May 9-11, 2016 -Bangkok, Thailand

To enhance opportunities for civil society organizations (CSOs) to engage, Mekong Partnership for the Environment aims to strengthen their skills to communicate with policy-makers, businesses, journalists, the public and others to promote participatory decision-making processes. The Strategic Communications Training for CSOs -Part 3 Communications Tools will focus on tools identified as key by participants in the previous training, Part 3 will help partners build skills and develop real products. Participants will learn how to develop better stories, case studies, and strategic social media products to influence decision-makers, journalists and the public. The event will use “improving public participation in development decisions” as a theme.

The Part 3 training will be held during May 9-11, 2016 in Bangkok, Thailand.

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Third Meeting of the Regional Technical Working Group on Environmental Impact Assessment

Apr 27-29, 2016 – Siem Reap, Cambodia

As a result of the first two meetings of the RTWG on EIA (September and December 2015), an action plan was developed by the RTWG members to guide the creation of Regional Guidelines for Public Participation in EIA, as well as to promote the sharing of the best practices in EIA and to mainstream this guideline and best practices into the Mekong Countries, and potentially ASEAN. The third meeting of the RTWG on EIA is planned for 27-29 April 2016 in Siem Reap, Cambodia to review and further develop the ‘zero draft’ of the Regional Guidelines for Public Participation in EIA.

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Civil Society Organizations to Engage Governments, Media and the Public to Improve Public Participation 

February 17-19,  2016 – Phnom Penh, Cambodia

As a result of a workshop led by USAID-funded Mekong Partnership for the Environment (MPE), regional Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) will be directly engaging governments, the media, the public and others to build support for regional guidelines on public participation in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) processes. MPE partners Pact, Internews and Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) trained 17 participants from 10 regional CSOs in strategic communications, February 17-19 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The CSOs developed an action plan to create briefing materials, media products, case studies and other tools at regional and local levels to constructively engage governments, businesses and others on the importance of strong public participation in minimizing social, financial and environmental risks and supporting long-term prosperity. The workshop is the second of a three-part Strategic Research and Communications Training Program for CSOs, and supports MPE’s Regional Technical Working Group on EIA, which brings together civil society and government to draft regional public participation guidelines.

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Webninar on EIA and Community Participation 

February 26,  2016 – Bangkok, Thailand

The USAID-supported Mekong Partnership for the Environment, in collaboration with the Asian Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Network (AECEN), will host a first live webinar on Friday, February 26 to highlight the importance of public participation in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). This webinar session on “Community Participation in EIA: Environmental Monitoring and Management” will be hosted by Peter King, headed of the AECEN Secretariat and a Senior Policy Advisor for the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies. The series is designed to provide participants with an opportunity to exchange ideas and information on how to ensure that community involvement is included throughout the EIA process. To register, please contact Chochoe Devaporihartakula at chochoe@iges.or.jp

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Mekong Partnership for the Environment Supports Cambodia Government on Renewable Energy Policy 

January 20,  2016 – Phnom Penh, Cambodia

USAID-supported Mekong Partnership for the Environment (MPE) has collaborated with Cambodia’s Ministry of Environment and National Council for Sustainable Development (NCSD) to launch the report “Switching On: Cambodia’s Path to Sustainable Energy Security” in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on January 20. The independent analysis urges the government to set a higher formal target for renewable energy generation of 10% of peak energy demand by 2020, reflecting advances in renewable energy costs and technologies. It also recommends establishing a system by 2017 to compensate solar power producers for excess energy fed back into the grid. The launch event featured remarks by Acting USAID Cambodia Mission Director Sean Callahan, and Kheiv Mot, Secretary of State for the Cambodian Ministry of Environment. Mekong Strategic Partners, supported by MPE, authored the report in an effort to draw attention to investment options that can meet energy needs while reducing the social and environmental costs of production. See the press release here and download the report’s summary here.

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Mekong Governments and Civil Society Organizations Endorse Action Plan to Help Reduce Negative Impacts of Infrastructure Projects 

December 16-18,  2015 – Tam Dao, Vietnam

Government agencies and civil society organisations from across the Lower Mekong region have endorsed an action plan to improve public participation in Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs). The action plan helps the 25-member working group, supported by the USAID Mekong Partnership for the Environment project as they develop regional EIA guidelines over the next 18 months. The goal is to improve the implementation of EIA and reduce anticipated negative impacts of development projects. Support for the working group is a key part of the project’s work in holding multi-stakeholder dialogues and enhancing the community involvement in the development of infrastructure projects such as dams, mines and industrial zones. The project co-facilitates the group with the Asian Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Network (AECEN).

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USAID Mekong Partnership for the Environment Helps to Ensure Responsible Development in The Mekong Region 

September 30 – October 2,  2015 – Bangkok, Thailand

The USAID-funded Mekong Partnership for the Environment  program recently held a week-long workshop for 21 representatives of civil society organizations from across the Mekong to strengthen their ability in programming and advocacy efforts. Trainers taught participants how to integrate research to constructively advocate for national and regional policy changes. It also introduced an “organizational network analysis” to help identify and strengthen networking and collaboration to improve regional impact. The workshop was organized and hosted by USAID partners Pact and Stockholm Environment Institute in collaboration with our SERVIR program with NASA.

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Mekong Governments and Civil Society Organizations Kick-Off Regional Technical Working Group on Environmental Impact Assessment

September 28-29,  2015 – Bangkok, Thailand

Twenty-five representatives from Mekong government agencies and civil society organizations met to develop standard regional guidelines to improve public participation in environmental impact assessment for large-scale investment projects. The meeting was supported by USAID MPE  in collaboration with the Asian Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Network and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Participants developed an action plan and established operational procedures for the next two years. The group’s work on environmental impact assessment supports and complements a joint statement recently signed in August by regional leaders as part of the Lower Mekong Initiative, a multinational partnership among Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and the United States to enhance regional cooperation on development challenges in the region.

Read more on the BLOG: Partnership in Action 

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Shared Solutions: Safeguarding Sustainable Development in the Mekong Region

August 25-27 2015 – Bangkok, Thailand

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Mekong Partnership for the Environment is gathering over 170 government, NGO, private sector, and academic experts from across the Mekong region to share ideas on solutions for sustainable development. The event focuses on identifying trends, strengthening connections and discussing ideas, approaches and experiences to enhance social and environmental safeguards and responsible investment in the region. The Shared Solutions symposium is a learning event, and will include presentations, panel discussion and breakout thematic sessions.

The Symposium is organised by Pact, in collaboration with Thailand’s Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), and other partners. The specific objectives of the workshop are to:

  • Share approaches, research, and case studies around increasing regional cooperation and awareness on issues related to responsible investment and reducing social and environmental impacts of development;
  • Network with government, NGO, private sector, and academic experts and practitioners involved in addressing issues related to social and environmental impacts of large-scale development in lower Mekong countries and ASEAN more broadly;
  • Strengthen and identify potential new opportunities for national and regional collaboration; and
  • Increase the understanding of the role of integrated, regional development within the Mekong and the broader ASEAN region.

The agenda addresses current practices and trends and examines the ASEAN community’s influence on the trajectory of the region to frame the context of impacts of increased regional investment in large-scale development projects. Cutting across these themes are questions around how to increase regional cooperation among stakeholders and the efforts to increase access to information and data.

By the end of the Symposium, the following outcomes will have been achieved:

  • A common understanding of current trends and approaches for socially responsible investment and strengthening social and environmental safeguards in the Mekong region.
  • Increased partnership and regional cooperation opportunities among participants.
  • Stronger network across not only country boundaries but among stakeholder groups.
  • Ideas for engagement strategies or approaches based on existing lessons in the region.

 

Agenda: Mekong Safeguards Symposium agenda 08-17-2015

Summary Report can be found here

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Mekong Matters Journalism Workshop: Development and the Mekong Delta

August 2015 – Can Tho, Vietnam

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The most recent  Mekong Matters Journalism Network event was August 11-13 in Can Tho, Vietnam. The workshop focused on development and the Mekong Delta, where regional journalists learnt about the interlinks between upstream development projects, irrigation, industry, and climate change. MPE supported 15 journalists and four local civil society representatives to tour communities, meet local businesses and examine development project and adaptation sites. Participants from across the Mekong met researchers, government officials and communities affected by upstream hydropower and other interconnected challenges. This third Mekong Matters training event supported journalists to learn about these complex issues, discover some success stories, and forge local and regional contacts to help them report on regional development project impacts. Internews, Pact and the Vietnam Forum of Environmental Journalists partnered to organize the event