CLIMATE CHANGE COMMUNICATION AND EDUCATION
2. Climate change education and training in the country
3. Climate change communication in the country
i) Climate change context
Myanmar, a densely populated country with over 53 million inhabitants, is considered the largest country in Mainland Southeast Asia. Covered in mountains, plateaus, and with a long coastline along the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, Myanmar covers an area of 676,575 km². The country is at high risk of numerous natural hazards, including extreme temperatures, drought, floods, cyclones, storm surges, and heavy rainfall. According to World Bank data, flooding and storm surges have affected the country most significantly. However, drought is regarded as the country’s most severe natural hazard, given its impacts on health, property, assets, and livelihoods.
Myanmar is an agricultural country, and thus, greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector are significant. Moreover, land clearing and deforestation are significant sources of emissions. According to the 2012 National Communication, with Myanmar's economy engaged in intense industrialization and development, the waste sector also produces high emissions. However, the Myanmar Climate Change Strategy 2018-2030 (2019) states that Myanmar's contribution to overall global emissions is low. The Global Carbon Atlas states that Myanmar had emissions of 0.5tCO2 per person in 2019.
Myanmar is a Non-Annex I (non-industrialized) country under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which it ratified in 1994. The country ratified the Kyoto Protocol in August 2003, then signed the Paris Agreement in April 2016, and ratified it in September 2017. Myanmar accepted the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto protocol in 2017.
Myanmar is home to over 100 different ethnic groups according to the International Working Group for Indigenous Affairs and “the country's indigenous peoples still face a number of challenges, including armed conflict, violations of human rights and land rights” (n.d., n.p.). The World Bank notes that agriculture and therefore rural and ethnic populations in Myanmar are extremely vulnerable to climate change. The Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre notes that the country’s ethnic minority populations are more vulnerable to climate change due to their existing “poor public services, lack of resources and institutions and active conflict” (2021, p. 12).
According to the United Nations News, Myanmar’s military leadership ousted the democratically elected government on the 1st of February 2021. Following the political turmoil, the United Nations, Global Environment Facility (GEF), Green Climate Fund (GCF), and World Bank suspended projects in the country, including those focused on climate change and the environment. While the country submitted an updated version of its Nationally Determined Contributions to the UNFCCC in August 2021, it was not certain the extent to which the military government will remain committed to the country’s international climate change commitments at the time of this review.
ii) Relevant government agencies
The Myanmar Government specifically promotes the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Action for Empowerment (ACE) elements of education, public awareness, access to information, and public participation. Many ministries play a major role in climate change communication and education, and collaborate with public, private, and non-governmental organizations on climate change responses.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (formerly the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry), is the overarching government ministry responsible for the environment in Myanmar. The Ministry has a Climate Change Unit which provides technical support regarding climate change mitigation and adaptation. The Ministry also supports the Myanmar Climate Change Alliance in collaboration with the European Union. The Alliance is supported by a Technical Working Group, which comprises representatives from all relevant ministries, cities, academia, and civil society organizations. The Alliance’s main goal is to mainstream climate change into Myanmar’s policy development and reform agenda. According to the country’s Update of the Nationally Determined Contributions, the Alliance focuses on increasing awareness of climate change in Myanmar and strengthening institutional capacity to develop climate change-oriented policies.
The Environmental Conservation Department, also under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, formulated the Myanmar Climate Change Master Plan 2018-2030 (2019). The Plan reflects the Department’s priority on building Myanmar’s climate resilience through pathways such as agriculture. Various ministries act as leads to enforce the Plan’s objectives for action. As the focal point for United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Environmental Conservation Department plays a central role in inter-agency cooperation around climate change communication and education by facilitating input from other ministries.
The Department of Meteorology and Hydrology and the Ministry of Transport and Communications are the executive bodies of the National Adaptation Programme of Action (2012). The two government agencies have additional objectives that extend to climate change adaptation and mitigation.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation is involved in implementing climate change-related agricultural measures, including adjusting cropping systems, encouraging the use of stress-resistant plant varieties, and maximizing water use efficiency. The Ministry is also involved in implementing plans and objectives to increase climate change adaptation and resilience in Myanmar.
Myanmar’s 2021 Update of the Nationally Determined Contributions states that the country has established a National Environmental Conservation and Climate Change Committee to address climate change issues at the national and union level. The Committee oversees all activities related to climate change adaptation and mitigation. The Committee includes 23 members, including a non-governmental organization and members of the private sector, and is advised by 6 working committees. On a regional level, 15 Environmental Conservation and Climate Change Supervision Committees have been established.
Education and communication
The Department of Basic Education, under the Ministry of Education, manages primary, lower secondary, and upper secondary schools in Myanmar. The Ministry of Education builds climate responsiveness in educational processes and institutional frameworks by strengthening education, awareness, and technological systems.
The leading actors for climate change communication and education listed in the Myanmar Climate Change Master Plan 2018-2030 (2019) are the Ministry of Health and Sports, the Ministry of Transport and Communications, and the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement.
The Radanar Ayar Association, a non-profit organization that specializes in thematic areas such as environment and climate change, agricultural livelihoods, and basic and non-formal education is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) focal point. The Radanar Ayar Association plays an important role in providing climate change communication and education in Myanmar. Relevant climate laws, policies, and plans
Over the past decade, Myanmar has begun to introduce climate change-specific laws, policies, and plans alongside those addressing broader environmental challenges. In its Nationally Determined Contributions prepared in 2015 ahead of the COP21, Myanmar highlighted the need to increase its capacity to adapt to the negative effects of climate change alongside identified mitigation actions. Since the 1990s, the country has introduced laws that directly address climate change mitigation, especially greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants. Other older climate change relevant laws include the Forest Law (1992), Wildlife Act (1994), and the Protected Area and Forest Policy Statement (1995).
The Environmental Conservation Law (2012) focuses on the protection of ecosystems and conservation. The law also recognizes the role of the then Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry (now the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation) and identifies the Ministry’s duties and powers.
The Disaster Management Law No. 21/2013 was developed by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement in 2013 with the approval of the Union Government. One of the Law’s identifying measures is the "enhancement of the capacity of the public for the emergence of a disaster-resilient community compatible with the reduction of damage and losses due to unforeseen disaster risk caused by climate change" (Article 15, c).
Myanmar has numerous policies and plans that prioritize climate change-centric measures and objectives for action. For example, one of Myanmar’s first climate change policies, the National Adaptation Programme of Action (2012) highlights the need for climate change adaptation in order to "reduce Myanmar's vulnerability to climate variability and change” (p. 8). Another example is the Green Economy Strategic Framework, which was developed with the support of the World Wildlife Fund in 2017. The Framework provides support and guidance on how Myanmar can implement green investments. Moreover, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the UNEP supported the development of a climate change policy, strategy, and action plan as well as the implementation of nature-based solutions and ecosystem-based adaptation in township-level planning.
The Myanmar Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan 2016-2030 presents a "roadmap to guide Myanmar's strategic responses and actions to climate-related risks and opportunities over the next 15 years and beyond" (2017, p. XVIII). The Plan is a cross-sectoral national strategic document for the period 2016-2030 and aims to achieve climate resilience and establish a low-carbon growth pathway to sustainable development. The Plan also lists the “promotion of multi-stakeholder partnerships for climate change education, science and technology at international, national and sub-national levels” as an objective, which requires the organization of joint climate change science and technology fairs at national and regional levels (2017, p. 52). The Plan includes an activity to implement joint government, donor, civil society, and private sector events on climate science, education, and technology in marginalized areas. The Plan also includes an objective to “build climate change-responsive institutional and educational processes” (p. 34) under which climate change integration in formal and non-formal educational institutions, including training centers, is listed as a key activity.
Myanmar published its Climate Change Policy in 2019 to ensure that investment and development across the country integrate climate-sensitive frameworks and tackle climate change. The Policy mandates the future integration of climate change adaptation and mitigation in national priorities across all sectors. The Policy also ensures that Myanmar’s national policies on education and training “integrate climate change adaptation and mitigation considerations” (2019, p. 25) and that the education sector develops resilience to climate change impacts.
The 2019 Climate Change Policy also mandated the implementation of the Myanmar Climate Change Strategy 2018-2030 and the Climate Change Master Plan 2018-2030, which were both published in 2019. The Strategy and the Master Plan are complementary implementation instruments for the Climate Change Policy. The three documents comprise Myanmar’s framework to promote "concrete, coordinated and sustained action over the long-term to transform Myanmar into a low-carbon and resilient country, which is able to develop in a sustainable manner" (Climate Change Policy, 2019, p. 4) The Strategy (2019) was adopted to formulate a “roadmap for Myanmar to strategically address climate-related risks, and also seize opportunities, over the next 13 years and beyond” (2019, pp. 21-22). The Master Plan (2019) lists objectives that prioritize climate change and its integration into sectors listed in the Strategy (2019) such as education, science and technology, natural resources, energy, transport and industrial systems, agriculture, livestock, and fisheries. The Master Plan also outlines the country’s intentions to develop low-carbon, climate-resilient towns and includes a focus on recovery in the face of climate-induced disasters and hazards. The Master Plan (2019) also provides indicators to monitor and track policy progress.
The National Environment Policy was passed in 2019 and approved in 2020. The Policy recognizes Myanmar's obligations under the Paris Agreement and focuses on integrating environmental issues into the country’s broader policy discussions. The Policy also mentions that environmental education and raising awareness will be promoted to increase the country’s respect for and understanding of environmental values. Moreover, the Policy reiterates a commitment to environmental conservation and sustainable development.
The Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan 2018-2030 (2018) acknowledges climate change and the significance of implementing a conflict-sensitive approach across all sectors.
The Environmental Conservation Department submitted a readiness and preparatory support proposal to the Green Climate Fund and the United Nations Environment Programme in 2018 to establish a National Adaptation Plan. The proposal’s objective was to formulate a plan that would allow Myanmar to implement and mainstream climate change adaptation in its legal and policy frameworks.
The 2021 Update of the Nationally Determined Contributions states that “the Myanmar government lays the foundation for, and expresses its commitment to promote climate change adaptation and greenhouse gas mitigation actions across its full range of economic sectors” (p. 6). The Nationally Determined Contributions further indicates the country’s aim to develop the capacity of educators, include climate change topics in the curricula, and strengthen the skills of academics and researchers on topics related to climate change. Finally, the Contributions discusses the country’s aim to “Enhance institutional capacity and multi-stakeholder partnerships to access and manage climate finance to ensure climate-responsive education, science, and technology” (p. 46).
Education and communication
The National Education Law (2014) aims to develop citizens who respect, value, and protect the environment and promote sustainable development. However, the law does not address climate change communication and education.
In response to calls to improve the quality and standard of learning, the Ministry of Education devised the National Education Strategic Plan 2016-2021. The Plan describes sector-wide reforms to ensure access to quality education at all levels of the national education system. However, the Plan does not provide any specific reforms or measures to integrate climate change education.
The National Curriculum Framework (2015) defines curriculum foci and content and includes learning objectives related to environment and sustainability in primary and high school education.
According to the World Wildlife Fund (2020), the Director General of the Department of Basic Education, U Ko Lay Win, has stated that educators play a role in “preparing children defined by the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation.” The World Wildlife Fund (2020) also reports that the Ministry of Education’s Department of Basic Education and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation’s Environmental Conservation Department signed a Letter of Agreement to collaborate on environmental education in 2020.
According to the Nationally Determined Contributions (2015), the Ministry of Education is focusing on including disaster risk reduction and climate change-related concepts in formal school curricula and learning content to achieve long-term outcomes.
iii) Terminology used for Climate Communication and Education
The terminology used for climate change communication and education in Myanmar prioritizes developing climate resilience to lessen the country’s vulnerability to climate change.
The National Curriculum Framework uses terms such as ‘environment’ and ‘sustainability’ in the context of education for primary and secondary schools through the phrase "appreciate and maintain the natural environment and materialize its sustainability” (2015, p. 1).
The Myanmar Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan 2016-2030 describes the country’s intention to develop a "climate-responsive society” and uses terms such as ‘climate change education’ and ‘climate change awareness’ to refer to climate change communication and education. The Plan focuses on ‘capacity building’ and mentions ‘sustainable development.’
The Myanmar Climate Change Strategy 2018-2030 (2019) stresses public awareness of climate change through pathways such as education and training. The Strategy states that ‘education, science, and technology’ are necessary for developing a “climate resilient and responsive society” and emphasizes ‘capacity building’ to reduce the negative impacts of climate change (2019, p. 128).
Similarly, the Myanmar Climate Change Policy (2019) recognizes the role of developing climate change resilience in education and communication and uses terms such as ‘awareness raising’ and ‘capacity building’ to emphasize climate change-based solutions such as ‘mitigation’ and ‘adaptation.’
The National Adaptation Programme of Action (2012) mainstreams climate change-based solutions in the country and mentions increasing ‘public awareness’ and ‘education’ on climate change as well as strengthening climate change communication and education through ‘training’ and ‘capacity building.’
The 2021 Update of the Nationally Determined Contributions states that “education, training, and research will also be a key pillar to enhance local capacities and knowledge to understand and deal with the impacts of climate change” (p. 8).
iv) Budget for climate change education and communication
While national governmental budgets have not previously include funding allocations for climate change-related issues, Myanmar’s 2021 Update of the Nationally Determined Contributions states that the country has an “unconditional commitment to climate change mitigation and adaptation” and it will hence “commit to allocate necessary resources from its annual budget” (p. 54).
A number of climate change policies and plans note the need for climate change funding in the country and propose specific funding allocations. For instance, the Myanmar Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan includes an objective for the country to build “financial capacities to strengthen climate information services, using multiple sources of funding” (2017, p. 37). Activities under the objective include increasing the budget allocation and local capacity for climate change adaptation and mitigation, as well as establishing additional sources of funding, including national and international climate financing.
Furthermore, the National Adaptation Programme of Action (2012) recognizes education as one of the main pathways for mainstreaming climate change. As a result, education is prioritized through funded projects. The Plan has an estimated climate change-related budget for a variety of sectors, including agriculture, early warning systems, forest, public health, coastal zone, energy and industry, water resources, and biodiversity.
Likewise, the Myanmar Climate Change Master Plan (2019) proposes the country allocate a budget to support climate resilience through implementation of the 2019 Myanmar 's objectives. The Master Plan has various strategic indicators focused on integrating climate change in budgeting systems such as monitoring the number of officials trained in specific climate change-related guidelines. The (2019) also advocates for increased climate financing and notes that funding for climate change adaptation needs to be strengthened. The Strategy further outlines aims to “integrat[e] adaptation and mitigation objectives, strategies, policies, measures or operations so that they become part of national and regional development policies, processes and budgets at all levels and stages” (p. 7).
The Myanmar and Action Plan 2016-2030 (2017) has various projects related to climate change and presents bilateral and multilateral spending in previous years.
Myanmar also receives international funding and investment to support climate change communication and education activities from international governments. For example, Finland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs provided funding to prioritize climate change education for sustainable development for a project in Myanmar and Vietnam from 2020-2024. Similarly, between 2015-2018, the United Kingdom Department of International Development awarded a US$5.9 million grant to the Building Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Extremes and Disasters program to allow marginalized communities to develop climate resilience. The grant has supported many projects which are still ongoing.
In its previous Nationally Determined Contributions from 2015, Myanmar notes benefits from major organizations such as the Adaptation Fund and Global Environment Facility. In its current Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) from 2021, the country notes the government’s intention to allocate resources from its annual budget to climate change-related projects and that it will pursue additional grant-based financing to support adaptation actions. The 2021 NDC also indicates Myanmar has created the Biodiversity Fund and the Environmental Management Fund to support climate change-related goals and priorities.
i) Climate change in pre-primary, primary, and secondary education
Myanmar has developed numerous policy frameworks to support the integration of climate change in education and to increase access to climate change education for children. The Myanmar Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (2017), the Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan (2018), the Myanmar Climate Change Policy (2019), and the Myanmar Climate Change Strategy (2019) call for the inclusion of climate change into the formal education curriculum.
For example, the Myanmar Climate Change Strategy states the need for Myanmar to prioritize the “integration of climate change into the education curricula at basic, higher and technological levels” (2019, p. 142) to increase educational capacity at national and subnational levels. Moreover, the Strategy states that the Ministry of Education has begun mainstreaming climate change concepts and practices into school curricula, and that universities and research institutions have begun to recognize climate change as a “key field of knowledge and skills to offer to future graduates” (2019, p. 89).
Myanmar’s National Education Strategic Plan 2016-2021 does not discuss environmental or climate change education. Similarly, Myanmar’s National Curriculum Framework (2015) does not specifically mention climate change. However, the Framework does emphasize concepts of environment and sustainability learning. For instance, the Framework’s aims for basic education students to "appreciate and maintain the natural environment and materialize its sustainability” (2015, p. 1). The primary education curriculum includes an aim to “make scientific exploration about natural phenomena in one’s environment” (2015, p. 5). The National Curriculum Framework also includes a topic of ‘People, Places and the Environment’ under the Social Studies subject in the secondary education curriculum, which provides students with the opportunity to study the environment, natural resources, and their connection with the world around them. A description of the types of climate change-related keywords discussed in the curricula may be found in the MECCE Project Monitoring section of this profile.
Non-government organizations and corporations are also involved in the provision of climate change education in Myanmar. For example, the Myanmar Branch of Panasonic Asia Pacific launched the Eco Learning Program in 2015 to provide climate change education to school students. Two sessions were held that year for youths in schools and technical training schools. In November 2015, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Panasonic Corporation signed a project agreement to support education aimed at sustainable development for young people living close to the Ancient City in Myanmar, which is currently a nominee for UNESCO World Heritage listing. The Ministry of Education and the local government were partners for the 2-year project, and Panasonic was responsible for the provision of educational support to youth involved in the project.
The Radanar Ayar Association, Myanmar’s ACE Focal Point, collaborated with the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction on a project that conducted testing of household-level container gardening and backyard pig raising in Ma Sein Village, Myanmar. A school was set up to teach and educate children and parents about vegetable production and small-scale fish culture and its value of diversification.
In 2020, the World Wildlife Fund and Save the Earth introduced the Green Generation Environmental Education Pilot in several of Myanmar’s regions, which involved extracurricular activities for students across more than 125 primary and middle schools. As part of the program, participants studied nature, forests and deforestation, waste, water pollution, and wildlife.
The above-mentioned projects were communicated in Myanmar’s 2015 Nationally Determined Contributions as part of the Ministry of Education’s strategy to include disaster risk reduction and climate change-related concepts in formal education curricula.
ii) Climate change in teacher training and teacher resources
According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization -Vocational Education; International Centre for Technical, Vocational Education and Training (UNESCO-UNEVOC) Myanmar Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Country Profile, the Ministry of Education is the leading ministry responsible for overseeing teacher training in the country while all ministries involved in TVET organize and oversee their own specific teacher training programs.
Currently, primary and lower secondary school teachers receive pre-service training through 25 established Education Colleges spread across Myanmar. The National Education Strategic Plan (2016) promotes teacher training for pre-service and in-service teachers; however, climate change-oriented knowledge is not included. The Myanmar Climate Change Master Plan 2018-2030 (2019) highlights an objective to conduct training for school teachers on climate change, but it is unclear what, if any, actions have been taken to achieve this. According to the Master Plan, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, with the support and involvement of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), will provide training targeted in climate vulnerable areas.
Led by Plan International, the Building Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Extremes and Disasters project facilitates activities that raise awareness about climate change to children in local communities. ActionAid Myanmar, an international charity-based NGO focused on developing climate resilience through engaging marginalized communities, expanded the Building Resilience and Adaptation project by leading 'training the trainers' sessions in 2017. The sessions empowered teachers to lead groups of students in vulnerable communities to create their own climate change learning resources relevant to their local community context. The project was further expanded by ActionAid Myanmar, with funding support from local governments.
iii) Climate change in higher education
Myanmar Climate Change Strategy (2019) notes that Myanmar’s universities and research institutions have recognized that climate change is an important field of knowledge and skills for future graduates. While several Myanmar's higher education institutions have been involved in climate change education activities, Yezin Agricultural University has been particularly active in this space.
The National Adaptation Programme of Action (2012) lists several priority projects focused on increasing climate change resilience. Higher education institutions such as Yezin Agricultural University and the University of Mawlamyine have collaborated with the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation to execute four funded priority projects that build the agricultural sector’s climate change resilience.
The Myanmar Climate Change Master Plan 2018-2030 (2019) objectives for action highlight numerous activities to promote the inclusion of climate change in university education, including increasing research funding and revising curricula to integrate climate change. Provision of grants for university teachers and students to research climate change issues within the environment and natural resource management sectors are aims outlined in the master plan. Training on climate change for staff of academic and research institutions will also be provided to mainstream climate change-relevant information and knowledge. Moreover, several of the Plan’s objectives for action indicate universities such as the Yezin Agricultural University are responsible for implementing activities.
An example of a climate change adaptation project being implemented in partnership with a university includes the Climate-Smart Agriculture program. According to Proceedings: National Workshop on Promoting Climate-Smart Agriculture in Myanmar, Yezin Agricultural University (2018), a five-year project (2016-2021) entitled ‘Sustainable Cropland and Forest Management in Priority Agro-ecosystems of Myanmar’ was begun in 2016 to “build the capacity of farming and forestry stakeholders at various levels to mitigate climate change and improve land conditions” (p. 1). The capacity-building project is targeted to government personnel and stakeholders in the field of climate change mitigation and adaptation in Myanmar. In 2018, the project helped establish the Climate Smart Agriculture Center at Yezin Agricultural University in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Agricultural Research of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation. The Project activities include establishing a national climate-smart agriculture/sustainable land management training program in a potential future collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, and Yezin Agricultural University. The project is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), a multilateral trust fund-based organization, and was implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
International investment also supports the development of tertiary-level climate change education in Myanmar. For example, Finland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has offered funding for the Strengthening Climate Change Education for Sustainable Development in Myanmar and Vietnam project, which focuses on the Higher Education Institutions Institutional Cooperation Instrument for strengthening climate change education for sustainable development in Myanmar and Vietnam. The Project, which runs between 2020 and 2024, will develop online courses and open educational resources on climate change as it relates to forestry and agriculture. The aim is to increase climate change resilience for students by encouraging fact-based decision-making. The project is a collaboration between Yezin Agricultural University and the University of Forestry and Environmental Services from Myanmar, alongside two institutions from Vietnam and one from Finland.
The 2021 Update of the Nationally Determined Contributions states that “The Research and Innovation Department is currently implementing various research projects through different academic institutions. However, capacities among many academic institutions are limited and the department would like to promote research and short-term training courses” (p. 80).
iv) Climate change in training and adult learning
Training and awareness campaigns related to climate change and disaster risk reduction are a particular priority for the government of Myanmar.
Adult learning and training for climate change in the country has recently expanded to online learning to increase its accessibility. For example, the Myanmar Green Leaders Academy is an online program led by 10 Billion Strong, an organization which aims to train 1 million green leaders in more than 30 countries by 2025. Youth aged 17 and above participate in a two-month program where they learn about critical environmental issues such as climate change action, adaptation, and mitigation.
Due to the country's reliance on the agriculture industry, Myanmar has many programs targeting the agriculture sector. For instance, the Food and Agriculture Organization implemented the Sustainable Cropland and Forest Management in Priority Agro-ecosystems of Myanmar project in 2019 to promote climate-smart agriculture. Another example is the National Farmer Field School Curriculum, where groups of farmers of both genders learn about climate-smart agriculture through hands-on field-based learning over one production cycle. The program was developed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Irrigation, in coordination with Global Environment Facility and AVSI Foundation.
Myanmar has also identified the importance of news coverage on climate change adaptation, as climate change communication can determine the strength of a community’s response to these challenges. In 2016, 20 Myanmar journalists attended a five-day participatory training on the significance of climate change adaptation and the importance of communicating about climate change to the public. Participants learned how to report on climate change adaptation, including translating information to a broad audience into everyday language. The training was organized by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development in collaboration with the Myanmar Institute for Integrated Development as part of the European Union-funded Rural Livelihoods and Climate Change Adaptation in the Himalayas (Himalica) Program.
The National Communication (2012) notes the prioritization of capacity building amongst government representatives to improve communication with the public on climate change-related issues. The Communication also reports that government officials of various departments and organizations were provided training on climate change, including local media groups and journalists, which resulted in an increase of locally published climate-related news articles.
Similarly, the Myanmar Climate Change Master Plan 2018-2030 (2019) includes an objective to increase climate change-related training for government employees to ensure they are aware of and equipped to deal with climate change. In particular, the Plan indicates training modules will be developed for fisherfolk and farmers on “how to integrate climate change into local-level planning,” along with the inclusion of climate information and “gender considerations” (p. 29).
i) Climate change and public awareness
Public awareness about climate change is prioritized in various climate change policies and plans in Myanmar. The Myanmar Climate Change Policy includes a recommendation to increase Myanmar's climate change adaptation capacity by providing "access to climate change knowledge, awareness, and training for all stakeholders, including decision-makers at all levels" (2019, p. 26).
Established in 2013, the Myanmar Climate Change Alliance is "a platform to mainstream climate change issues into policy development and reforms, including raising awareness; building policy, institutional and technical capacity" (Policy Guidance Brief, 2019, p. 20). The Alliance is located within the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation and was created through a collaboration with UN-Habitat and the United Nations Environment Programme, with funding from the European Union. The Alliance helped develop Myanmar’s Climate Change Policy (2019) and its implementation plans. A policy guidance brief published by the Alliance in 2019 reiterates the importance of integrating climate change in education and training programs in the country, with a note on the need to “improve technical and institutional capacities for research in the field of climate change, and develop inclusive public awareness programs” (p. 20). However, the Alliance published a 2019 case study on raising climate change awareness with policymakers, the media, and the public which notes challenges associated with ensuring climate change communication and awareness activities are accessible in Myanmar, given the diversity in education levels and languages of the people. The Nationally Determined Contributions (2015) notes that the government is increasing climate change awareness using national media channels and through the Alliance.
Myanmar also has public awareness initiatives to empower children to combat climate change. For instance, a project led by Plan International from 2015-2018, Building Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED), facilitated activities with children in local communities to raise their awareness about climate change. In 2016, ActionAid Myanmar expanded the BRACED Project with a pilot project which engaged young children of all ages in climate change resilience groups to increase their climate change awareness. The participants were encouraged to become 'climate champions' to build resilience within their community. The project has since received government funding to expand to local communities.
The Korea Climate Change Center, a civil society think-tank donated vehicles and equipment to Myanmar’s Department of Agriculture to distribute high-capacity stoves to the Agricultural Education and Rural Development Training School. The 2019 project aimed to raise public awareness about climate change in farmers and people in rural areas and to reduce firewood consumption. Participants learned about environmental conservation and climate change through using better equipment and learning about energy efficiency. The project has since been implemented in six regions and states.
Myanmar’s National Communication describes many regional public awareness campaigns focused on the "causes and effects of global warming, the climate scenarios in Myanmar and their potential impacts, and the potential measures for mitigation and adaptation to climate change" (2012, p. 168). The National Communication also notes the need to launch additional similar campaigns on climate change and adaptation strategies. It also indicates the country intends to increase the involvement of non-governmental organizations in climate change adaptation campaigns. The Myanmar Climate Change Master Plan 2018-2030 aims to “organize technology fairs at national and local levels to disseminate climate-smart technologies and knowledge” (2019, p. 89).
The Nationally Determined Contributions (2015) noted Myanmar’s intention to facilitate a communication campaign with the media, with many stakeholders encouraged to increase news broadcasts on climate change and production of materials in 2016-2017, but no further information is publicly available.
ii) Climate change and public access to information
Access to climate change-related information is also prioritized in Myanmar’s policies and plans. The Myanmar Climate Change Policy (2019) focuses on ensuring "transparency and accountability of all stakeholders through open decision-making, promoting public awareness and participation, and by providing access to information and access to justice" (2019, p. 31). Similarly, the Climate Change Master Plan (2019) has a listed objective to "increase access to climate information services, research, and technological innovations" (2019, p. 89).
The Department of Meteorology of Myanmar provides open public access to the country’s climatic and environmental data through the Myanmar Climate Data Web Portal. It is free of charge and aims to inform the public about climatic changes in Myanmar. There are also various non-state climate information centers that offer climate-relevant information to the public, including the Korea Climate Change Center.
The Myanmar Climate Change Master Plan 2018-2030 (2019) and the Myanmar Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan 2016-2030 aim to delegate weather and climate information services in cities and towns and rural areas under the responsibility of the Ministry of Information, City Development Committees, and the Ministry of Construction. Early warning systems with weather and climate-related forecasts aim to increase accessibility to the public.
In the process of preparing the National Communication (2012), the Myanmar government collected a massive number of documents related to climate change and environmental conservation. These documents were made accessible through the Climate Information Center, which was established at the Academy of Forestry Science office in Yangon. More information on the center was not available at the time of this review.
iii) Climate change and public participation
Myanmar commonly uses public consultations to develop its climate change policies. For example, the National Adaptation Programme of Action involved "stakeholder and public consultation to establish Myanmar's adaptation needs and potential adaptation projects/options" in its formulation (2012, p. 8).
Similarly, the Myanmar Climate Change Strategy 2018-2030 (2019) was formulated via an interactive process that consulted a plurality of actors at many levels. The Strategy’s Technical Working Group includes government ministries, private sector actors, civil society, and international and domestic development actors such as ActionAid and the Building Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Extremes and Disasters program. The consultation process also included citizen groups, a Youth Forum, and township administrations. All of these actors provided direct input into the Strategy’s development through consultations, interviews, and focus groups.
The Climate Change Master Plan (2019) includes multiple activities that emphasize increasing future public participation pathways. For example, the Plan includes an objective to mainstream climate change into agriculture and livestock planning, as well as research and development at national, sectoral, and local levels. Under this objective, the Plan encourages the promotion of “inclusive and participatory adaptation planning at the local level to integrate climate change in local government, civil society organizations and community-based organizations agriculture and livelihood plan” (2019, p. 18).
Finally, the National Communication (2012) emphasizes the importance of public participation on environmental and climate change issues to develop adaptation measures in Myanmar.
i) Country monitoring
Many of Myanmar’s climate change-related policies and plans note the importance of having assessment mechanisms to track progress. The country is starting to establish monitoring mechanisms in climate change communication and climate change education.
The 2016 Climate Risk and Vulnerability Assessment states that the development of the 2012 National Adaptation Programme of Action provided a "country-wide assessment of the risks of climate change and proposed action programs and projects, which include climate change projections" (2016, p. 16). The Program includes a monitoring framework to further climate resilience and established ‘priority level sectors.’ The highest priority sectors do not include communication or education; rather, they comprise agriculture, early warning systems, and forestry. The second-level priority sectors are public health and water resources, with the third level sectors consisting of coastal zones. Finally, the fourth level sectors comprise energy, industry, and biodiversity.
The Department of Myanmar Examinations is responsible for assessing the country’s primary education system. The National Education Strategic Plan 2016-2021 includes numerous plans and objectives to strengthen student assessments to increase the quality of education overall. However, the Plan does not mention any assessments related to tracking climate change education.
The Climate Change Policy advocates for monitoring and evaluating its implementation to track “progress towards achieving the purpose of this policy” and strengthen the capacities of all stakeholders (2019, p. 31).
The Government of Myanmar currently uses environmental impact assessments and strategic environmental assessment frameworks. The Myanmar Climate Change Strategy 2018-2030 (2019) states that the government is in the process of establishing a domestic Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification system of greenhouse gas emissions. According to a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Report, the Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification system will allow the country to consistently track greenhouse gas emissions and to “establish a robust basis for the definition of economy-wide mitigation targets and track progress in implementation” (2019, p. 7).
The Myanmar Climate Change Strategy (2019) lists the integration of climate change into guidelines for inventorying and monitoring greenhouse gas emissions as an activity. The Strategy also mentions several indicators related to climate change education. For instance, an example of a sectoral outcome includes “education, awareness and technological systems that foster a climate-responsive society,” which is followed by an expected result indicator of increased capacity of education actors to integrate concepts such as sustainability, low-carbon development, and climate resilience into formal school curricula at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels.
The Myanmar Climate Change Master Plan (2019) includes multiple activities under objectives related to strengthening monitoring frameworks across sectors. The Plan lists indicators and outputs under each activity. For example, under the objective "enhancing awareness and capacity to promote and implement climate-resilient low-carbon development" (p. 82), the need for training to increase the country’s monitoring capacity is discussed. The Plan also includes indicators to track the number of people trained and their knowledge gained across many sectors, including forestry and fisheries. The Climate Change Master Plan 2018-2030 (2019) also provides outputs and indicators to monitor development of guidelines and tools to encourage climate change integration in formal curricula in higher education. At the time of this review, no further information was available on whether and how Myanmar is tracking progress in these areas.
The 2021 Update of the Nationally Determined Contributions describes a new National Environmental Conservation and Climate Change Central Committee, which will be established to act as a monitoring mechanism.
ii) MECCE Project Monitoring
The Monitoring and Evaluating Climate Change Communication and Education (MECCE) Project examined Myanmar’s National Curriculum Framework (2015) and National Education Strategic Plan 2016-2021 (the country’s Education Sector Plan; 2016) for keywords related to ‘climate change,’ ‘sustainability,’ ‘biodiversity,’ and the ‘environment.’
Neither document examines climate change-related topics in detail. The National Curriculum Framework refers to ‘environment’ five times and ‘sustainability’ once. However, details about their implementation in the curriculum are not expanded upon. The terms ‘climate change’ and ‘biodiversity’ are not mentioned.
The Education Sector Plan does not use the terms ‘environment’ or ‘sustainability’ in the environmental sense. 'Climate change’ and ‘biodiversity’ are not discussed in the document.
This section will be updated as the MECCE Project develops.
This profile was reviewed by Tim Forsyth, Professor of Environment and Development at The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)