Myanmar is poised at the precipice of its own industrial revolution that was spurred, in part, by various efforts at political and economic reform and the foreign direct investment that followed. Indeed, vast swaths of Myanmar’s population are lifted out of poverty every day at a staggering rate. But Myanmar’s shift towards increased standards of living poses very real obstacles for a country with vast swaths of pristine ecosystems.
Against this backdrop, civil society will be forced to grapple with the utilitarian ethos embedded within Myanmar’s Constitution that emphasizes extraction and exploitation, making scant mention of conservation. That’s not to say there aren’t laws on the books with the capacity to encourage sustainable development. There are many. But lax enforcement and oversight along with a byzantine network of ministries often thwarts those noble ambitions.
To that end, while there exists a wealth of research detailing Myanmar’s abundant natural resources, the metes and bounds of the statutory and regulatory infrastructure that will guide future development remain largely uncharted territory. The guiding principle behind the Myanmar Legal Initiative is therefore straightforward: to serve as a resource for environmentalists, practitioners, and businesses alike, providing an up-to-date snapshot of a legal landscape that changes by the day. For more information, visit www.myanmar-initiative.org.
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