JICA Anwers Mekong Watch Recommendations for Thilawa SEZ SEA/EIA

On 1 July 2014, Mekong Watch submitted a list of recommendation to JICA regarding the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and EIA processes for the Thilawa SEZ development project.  On 22 July, JICA sent a written response to our recommendations. Click here for an unofficial English translation of the entire document.  The main content is as follows:

Mekong Watch Recommendation:
1. Before starting the SEA/EIA, the following points should be clearly stated to the stakeholders first:
  i) The purpose and relationship of the SEA and EIA (whether the EIA will be conducted only after the results of the SEA or not, etc.);

JICA RESPONSE: 

  • On June 30th of this year, the Myanmar Government held a stakeholders meeting for the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for preparation of the Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ) (note: the 2,000-hectare portion). We understand that at this meeting, the purpose of the SEA, its role, the differences from the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), etc were explained clearly as follows:
  • The SEA is applied at higher levels than the EIA (such as policy making, etc)
  • The main content of the SEA includes the baseline situation, sensitive issues, legislation related to the EIA, development concept analysis, development scenarios analysis (including examination of alternatives), matters requiring special attention in regard to environmental and social considerations, and direction of mitigation measures.
  • The EIA will be conducted in the future.

 

Mekong Watch Recommendation:
ii) The concrete names of domestic law/s and the international standards to which the SEA and EIA must comply;

JICA Response:

  • At the stakeholders meeting held by the Myanmar Government on June 30th of this year, in regard to the EIA, existing laws are as follows:
  • Environmental Conservation Law (2012)
  • Environmental Conservations Rules (2013)
  • Myanmar Special Economic Zeon Law (2014), etc.
  • In addition, detailed procedures are being written into the Draft EIA Procedures. We understand that it was explained that the EIA would be drawn up in line with these Procedures and in accordance to the JICA Guidelines for Environmental and Social Considerations.
  • In addition, in regard to the SEA, there are no existing laws in Myanmar. We understand that it was explained that the SEA would be conducted in accordance with JICA’s Guidelines for Environmental and Social Considerations.

Mekong Watch Recommendation:
iii)   The methodology for the SEA and EIA (not only the area/items of investigation but also the period and schedule of investigation, the expected schedule for the completion of the reports, and the schedule of meetings, etc.).

JICA Response:

  • We understand that at the stakeholders meeting held by the Myanmar Government on June 30th of this year, the background for drawing up the SEA (gathering opinions through means such as individual stakeholder hearings held last year, etc.), procedures and methods were explained.
  • In regard to the EIA, we understand that the Myanmar Government will be explaining the methodology at upcoming stakeholder meetings (to explain the draft scoping report).

Mekong Watch Recommendation:
2.  In order to secure the participation of wider stakeholders in the local stakeholder consultations, the following points should especially be considered:
  i.   In stakeholder analysis, the local people, who will be affected directly and indirectly by the Project, should be recognized as important stakeholders and should be included as participants in the consultations;

JICA Response:

  • Keeping in mind the points you raise, we will make necessary confirmations, etc., based on JICA’s Guidelines for Environmental and Social Considerations.
  • We know that at the June 30th SEA stakeholders meeting held by the Myanmar Government, the Myanmar Government announced the meeting in advance to local residents, and with the cooperation of the General Administrative Department (GAD) of Thanlyin and Kyauktan, efforts were made, including providing buses for transportation, to enable as many of the local residents as possible to be included in the discussions.

Mekong Watch Recommendation:
  ii)  Prior to the consultations, dissemination of information should be well planned, so that it is ensured that the local people who will be affected directly and indirectly by the Project receive necessary information in advance;

JICA Response:

  • Keeping in mind the points you raise, we will make necessary confirmations, etc., based on JICA’s Guidelines for Environmental and Social Considerations.
  • We understand that for the June 30th SEA stakeholders meeting held by the Myanmar Government, advertisements were placed in two national newspapers on June 27th, notices to local residents were sent through the Thanlyin and Kyauktan General Administrative Departments (GAD), and buses were provided on the day of the meeting (for participants coming from within Yangon and for local residents).

 

Mekong Watch Recommendation:
  iii) the consultations should be open and transparent, and participants should not be limited unnecessarily;

 JICA Response:

  • Keeping in mind the points you raise, we will make necessary confirmations, etc., based on JICA’s Guidelines for Environmental and Social Considerations.
  • We understand that for the June 30th SEA stakeholders meeting held by the Myanmar Government, efforts were made to ensure transparency, such as inviting the press, and no restrictions were placed on who could participate.

Mekong Watch Recommendation:
  iv)  In cases where the number of participants is very large, consultations about the same agenda should not be limited to only once, but should be held several times, such as once for each village, etc.

JICA Response:

  • Keeping in mind the points you raise, we will make necessary confirmations, etc., based on JICA’s Guidelines for Environmental and Social Considerations.

Mekong Watch Recommendation:
3.  During the consultations, the following points should be especially considered, so that the consultations are not one-sided explanations by the project implementers, and so that local people can voice and discuss their opinions at every stage of SEA/EIA. The opinions/concerns of local people should be incorporated into every stage of decision-making;
i)  
The agenda and the related information/documents should be provided in well advance;

JICA Response:

  • Keeping in mind the points you raise, we will make necessary confirmations, etc., based on JICA’s Guidelines for Environmental and Social Considerations.
  • We understand that for the June 30th SEA stakeholders meeting held by the Myanmar Government, advertisements were placed in two national newspapers on June 27th, and notices were sent to local residents through the Thanlyin and Kyauktan General Administrative Departments (GAD).

Mekong Watch Recommendation:
  ii) When providing related information to local people, written materials should be provided in a language and form understandable to them, and sufficient time should be allotted for them to read and understand the materials;

JICA Response:

  • Keeping in mind the points you raise, we will make necessary confirmations, etc., based on JICA’s Guidelines for Environmental and Social Considerations.
  • At the June 30th SEA stakeholders meeting held by the Myanmar Government, documents were prepared in Burmese and distributed. In addition, we understand that 2 projectors were prepared, one projecting in English and the other in Burmese.

Mekong Watch Recommendation:
  iii) In order for local people to fully understand the related information and to participate in opinion exchanges and discussions, sufficient time should be allotted for each agenda, and if necessary, multiple consultations can be held for one agenda.

JICA Response:

  • Keeping in mind the points you raise, we will make necessary confirmations, etc., based on JICA’s Guidelines for Environmental and Social Considerations.

Mekong Watch Recommendation:
  iv)  In cases where an interpreter is necessary for such opinion exchanges and discussions, some special consideration should be given, for example, to prepare an interpreter independent from the government, considering the relationship of mutual trust with the local people.

JICA Response:

  • Keeping in mind the points you raise, we will make necessary confirmations, etc., based on JICA’s Guidelines for Environmental and Social Considerations.

Mekong Watch Recommendation:
4.  When making minutes of the consultations, the draft version of the minutes should be provided to all participants, so that the participants can confirm and make corrections to the contents before the minutes are finalized.

JICA Response:

  • Keeping in mind the points you raise, we will make necessary confirmations, etc., based on JICA’s Guidelines for Environmental and Social Considerations.

Mekong Watch Recommendation:
5. As the Project is categorized as “Category A,” local stakeholder consultations should be held at least at the following stages with information disclosure in advance (as required for Category A projects under JICA’s Guidelines);

  • When scoping and alternative scenario analyses for SEA/EIA are being conducted;
  • Before the finalization of scoping drafts for SEA/EIA;
  • Before the finalization of SEA/EIA draft reports.

JICA Response: 

  • Keeping in mind the points you raise, we will make necessary confirmations, etc., based on JICA’s Guidelines for Environmental and Social Considerations.

20140722_jica-response-to-mw-0701-sea-letter_english

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Thilawa, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s