Myint Zaw wins the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize

Partners Asia Team

Partners Asia is delighted that Myint Zaw’s work to protect the Irrawaddy River has been recognized by the prestigious Goldman Prize. In February 2015, U Myint Zaw asked for support for the ‘Living Rivers” conference he hoped to hold in Yangon to keep alive the need for a united popular opposition to the Myitsone Dam. While Myint Zaw was part of a movement in the 2009-11 that ended with the abrupt decision by ex-General and President Thein Sein to cancel the contract with the Chinese company, CPI, that his predecessor General Than Shwe had signed in 2007.

An outstanding element of Myint Zaw’s Ju Foundation environmental work is the explicit link to peace – meeting with Partners Asia in February, in preparation for the Living Rivers conference, he recalled how he had briefly studies psychology while at Berkeley (on a journalism course) and was greatly influenced by the need to teach people how to listen critically, even to monks and others in positions of authority. His view is that environmental issues enable the Ju Foundation to talk about morality, self-respect and respect for others, including the environment, outside of a religious frame of reference, and that this is important in Myanmar. Likewise, loving the environment, the country and the nation, without nationalism.

Partners Asia is honored to have been able to support the Ju Foundation and Myint Zaw over the past two years, with the generous gifts from our donors. Click to learn more about Myint Zaw and the 2015 Goldman Prize.

The fight to stop the Myitsone dam is sadly not over, and Myint Zaw will continue to spearhead the campaign against its resumption. Ever since 2011, the Chinese company CPI has continued to extract resources from the upstream area that would be submerged by the seven proposed dams, including prospecting for minerals and gold.

There are worrying signs that post the 2015 election, a new government would have its hands tied by legislation that is currently in front of parliament. The Investment Law as currently drafted ties all future governments to contracts already signed by previous governments. It would also enable both local and international investors to seek redress in international courts should Myanmar governments seek to draft regulations, such as labor laws or environmental laws, that would adversely impact their investment. Click to learn more about the Investment Law1.

1 Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business