Hydropower development in Myanmar and its implications on regional energy cooperation

ArticleinInternational Journal of Sustainable Society 7(1):42-66 · March 2015with 7,751 Reads 
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Abstract
This paper analyses the current status of hydropower development in Myanmar and its role in strengthening regional energy development and cooperation. Myanmar's water sector is facing intensive changes as the country's abundant water resources provide substantial scope for development. Several plans are underway to tap the country's vast hydropower potential and to achieve economic growth through increased hydro electricity exports. Factors driving intensive water resources development are: policies seeking energy security, economic growth in the region, the resulting energy demand growth as well as opening of Myanmar's economy for investments. The development plans provide many opportunities for economic development and regional cooperation, but also for accelerated natural resources extraction and socioeconomic inequity. This paper concludes that in the face of intensifying hydropower cooperation, improved national level water governance in Myanmar as well as an integrated regional hydropower plan would support sustainable regional energy cooperation and ensure shared benefits and responsibilities from the cross-border hydropower development.

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  • ... Bangladesh is interested to develop the unexploited hydropower potential along Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers basins with cooperation between Nepal, India, China and Bhutan (Rahaman, 2009;Rahaman and Varis, 2009). As Myanmar has huge hydropower potential, Bangladesh is also willing to construct hydropower plants in the Rakhine State in the northwestern part of Myanmar (Kattelus et al. 2014(Kattelus et al. , 2015. The potential hydropower sites include the Laymro hydropower plant of 500 MW and the Sai Din hydropower plant of 76.5 MW in the Rakhine State, located near the Myanmar-Bangladesh border (Kattelus et al., 2014). ...
    ... The potential hydropower sites include the Laymro hydropower plant of 500 MW and the Sai Din hydropower plant of 76.5 MW in the Rakhine State, located near the Myanmar-Bangladesh border (Kattelus et al., 2014). A feasibility study on the potential of export of electricity from Myanmar's Rakhine State to Bangladesh is planned to be conducted (Kattelus, 2009;Kattelus et al., 2014Kattelus et al., , 2015. ...
    ... Myanmar has around 39,720 MW hydropower potential, out of which current installed capacity is only 745 MW and 1,786 MW is under construction (WEC, 2007;Kattelus et al. 2015). Bangladesh and India want to import natural gas and hydropower from Myanmar (Rahaman, 2009). ...
  • ... The Salween River is the second longest river in Myanmar, covering a total area of about 205,000 km 2 in the territory of Myanmar. Myanmar is well-endowed with hydropower potential; its technically feasible potential is up to 39,720 MW (Kattelus et al., 2015). Thereinto, the large-scale hydropower potential takes over almost 25,000 MW (Kattelus et al., 2015). ...
    ... Myanmar is well-endowed with hydropower potential; its technically feasible potential is up to 39,720 MW (Kattelus et al., 2015). Thereinto, the large-scale hydropower potential takes over almost 25,000 MW (Kattelus et al., 2015). ...
    ... As a tropical country with the population of about 61.65 million and land area of 653,520 km 2 in 2013, it is estimated by the International Energy Agency that electrification of Myanmar is considerably low in the Asia-Pacific region, even lower than a host of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa region (Kattelus et al., 2015;Pode et al., 2016). The most unbelievable fact is that only 13% has reliable access to electricity (Kattelus et al., 2015). ...
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    This work discusses the development of hydropower in four Southeast Asia countries. With rapid economic development and insufficient energy supply, hydropower, as an important clean energy, plays a bigger role than before. It is shown that hydropower has immense potential and is the best choice to cater for the energy demand in Southeast Asia. In this work, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar are selected to analyze their hydropower development. This work introduces the status of hydropower resources, the current situation of hydropower development and the main distribution of hydropower stations in the four countries. In addition, the paper also introduces some energy policies, the development advantages and obstacles of the four countries, and puts forward suggestions for the future hydropower development of these four countries.
  • ... The fertile alluvial delta of ARB is known for significant rice production and for dense human settlements that have been threatening its ecological state (Furuichi et al. 2009;Salmivaara et al. 2013). Despite being relatively pristine and unaffected by human interventions, the basin has attracted the attention of several ambitious hydropower projects (Garzanti et al. 2016;Kattelus et al. 2014Kattelus et al. , 2015. Also, it has been reported for potential flooding risk to the millions of people dwelling along its course (AHA-Center 2015). ...
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    A representative of meteorological data-constrained basin, Ayeyarwady, in Myanmar, Southeast Asia, is set for flow simulation and forecasting at 15 locations using a range of hydrological modeling approaches: conceptual lumped (GR4J), hybrid-lumped [Identification of unit Hydrographs And Component flows from Rainfall Evapotranspiration and Streamflow Catchment Wetness Index (IHACRES CWI)], semidistributed [Hydrological Engineering Center-Hydrological Modeling System (HEC-HMS)], and relatively distributed [Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT)]. Using daily rainfall data from 51 surface rainfall stations (over an area of approximately 400,000 km 2) and coarse monthly evaporation inputs from global sources, the models are calibrated (validated) against observed flows for using the performance indicators Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency (NSE), percentage bias (PBIAS), RMSE-observations standard deviation ratio (RSR), and volumetric efficiency. The developed models were then integrated with rainfall forecasts from the Weather Research and Forecasting Model for 2015-2018 and assessed for biases against observed flows. The NSE values were favorable for GR4J (median NSE 0.9), followed by IHACRES (NSE 0.86), SWAT (NSE 0.81) and HEC-HMS (NSE 0.77) during calibration and GR4J (NSE 0.87) and the latter three (NSE 0.83) during validation. Lumped models were found to have comparable, albeit better in simulating low, median, and high quantiles of flows during both calibration and validation periods, compared to other models of varying complexity set for the study basin. The hydrometeorological coupling also revealed that GR4J yielded the least while HEC-HMS yielded the highest biases (up to 30-fold at some stations) in daily flow forecasting. The analysis suggested that while process-based and relatively complex models may exhibit better performance in data-rich basins, simple conceptual models like GR4J are useful for daily flow simulation and forecasting in data-constrained basins of the region.
  • ... Growing demand for electricity in China and the fact that Myanmar is one of the most water rich counties in Asia (The World Commision of Dams 2000), have resulted in Myanmar being a ''hot spot'' for Chinese hydropower investments. These investments have been generally located in controversial and conflict prone regions (Kattelus et al. 2015). ...
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    Context After decades of political and economic isolation, Myanmar is now the focus of large international investments, particularly from China, which raises questions of how to balance national development with safeguarding the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot. Objective To evaluate the impact of five major developments in Myanmar on forest ecosystems, using clouded leopard as a focal and umbrella species for wider biodiversity conservation. Methods Based on an empirical habitat relationships model, we identified core areas and corridors in Myanmar, and compared them across the development scenarios. We simulated population dynamics and genetic diversity in each scenario using an individual-based, spatially explicit cost-distance population genetics model. Results The predicted current clouded leopard population may be larger than the current carrying capacity of the landscape, raising the possibility that the species’ population has not yet equilibrated with recent habitat loss and degradation. All the developments combined resulted in 36% decrease in landscape connectivity and 29% decrease in simulated clouded leopard population size, including substantial reduction in genetic diversity. Each development was predicted to have a negative effect; however, emerging economic zones had disproportionally large impacts (− 24% in connectivity and − 25% in population size), resulting in fragmentation of the largest core areas. Similarly, the Indian Highway and Silk Road caused fragmentation of the largest core habitats, and the Pipeline Railroad significantly decreased connectivity in the main stronghold for clouded leopards. Conclusions Spatially-explicit assessments like the one presented here provide quantitative evaluation on development impacts and help optimize the trade-offs between development and conservation. The rapid and increasing development of Myanmar and surrounding Southeast Asian nations pose an enormous threat to the biodiversity of the region. Optimizing the trade-off between development goals and conservation is essential to minimize the effects of rapid land use change on biodiversity.
  • ... Le Myanmar est l'un des pays possédant les plus grandes ressources en eau avec environ 20 000 m 3 d'eau par an et par habitant (FAO AQUASTAT, 2012). Cependant la distribution saisonnière et spatiale de l'eau pose un défi majeur pour son utilisation et sa redistribution (Kattelus et al., 2015 De vastes travaux d'irrigation auraient été menés durant le moyen âge dans la région centrale sèche et il subsisterait encore de telles structures du côté de Shwebo. En 2018, nombre de retenues présentes au Myanmar ont un but hydroélectrique mais servent également à l'irrigation. ...
  • ... On the other side, it needs to reform in many sectors like national reconciliation, job opportunity, electrification, education, and heath. Peace and stability are the first priority consideration factor for the country development, and the government needs to implement national reconciliation during the transition state to democracy (Kattelus et al. 2015). And the government has to reduce the unemployment level by creating job opportunities for the citizens. ...
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    Hydropower is the world's leading renewable energy resources in electricity generation that produces 71% of electricity more than other forms of energy sources such as coal, gas, and oil which are not reliable and gradually diminish day by day. Therefore, hydropower is essential and considered as an economical factor for producing electricity. There are many untapped hydropower resources in the world. The developing country, Myanmar, is also have about 100 GW unexploited energy potential from the rivers for hydropower electrification. This paper is the review paper which presents about the condition of the hydroelectricity in Myanmar in detail.
  • ... The agriculture sector in Myanmar consumes 90% of the total available water, employs 60% of the country's total labor force, and contributes 22% to the nation's GDP (FAO 2016;IWMI 2019). Hydropower generation also has the potential for economic contribution to the GDP of Myanmar (Kattelus et al. 2015). Frequent hydrological and meteorological extremes like floods and droughts have impacted the lives and livelihoods of many people in Myanmar. ...
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    In this study, bias-corrected daily rainfall data of eight global climate models (GCMs) was used as input for a hydrologic model (Hydrological Engineering Center - Hydrological Modeling System (HEC-HMS)) to simulate daily streamflow in the Upper Ayerawaddy River basin (UARB), Myanmar. Monthly, seasonal, annual, and decadal mean flows, calculated for the baseline (1975–2014), were compared with projections for future periods (2040s: 2021–2060 and 2080s: 2061–2100) under two Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5). The spread of low flows (10th and 25th percentile of daily flows) and high flows (75th, 90th, and 100th percentiles) were analyzed for each period. The ensemble of GCMs indicates an increase in mean monthly (except in October and November), seasonal (except post-monsoon), annual, and decadal rainfalls and corresponding flows in the UARB. Future low flows are expected to have high variability while high flows are expected to have higher means than that of baseline. The density distribution analysis of baseline and future flows reveals that future periods are likely to experience an increase in the magnitude of mean flows but a decrease in variability. Rainfall extremes indicated by 1-day maximum rainfall, 5-day consecutive maximum rainfall, and the number of extreme rainfall days reveals frequent wetter extremes in the UARB under future climate conditions. Extreme floods, as estimated by the frequency analysis of daily flows, are also expected to become more frequent during the future periods. These changes in flows can be attributed solely to climate change since the analyses did not account impacts of possible land use change and water resources development in the UARB. This study is a good starting point to assess future flows, and further research is recommended to address the limitations of this study for improved understanding and assessments that will prove useful for planning purposes in the study area.
  • ... The widening energy supply-demand gap in Myanmar together with the sizeable regional appetite for the country's untapped hydropower potential 14 has encouraged the reformist government to plan for major development. At the time of writing, at least 50 hydropower plants with a combined capacity exceeding 40 GW are under consideration, generating opposition from environmental activists and threatened fish-dependent communities [37,44]. Policy and legislation adopted under the military regime to promote industrial scale farming has favored the establishment of very largescale fish farms through the confiscation of untitled land and its reallocation as concessions [7]. ...
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    Myanmar's fisheries are among the most important globally but remain some of the least documented. The fisheries sector occupies an important place in Myanmar's economy and culture, and is set to change rapidly as the country enters a period of unprecedented political and economic transition. Building on a unique set of information sources, this article presents a broad view of the current state of knowledge on governance, live- lihoods, production and supply chains across Myanmar's three main fishery sub-sectors (marine capture, inland capture, and aquaculture). The analysis is contextualized with a review of major changes in the country's policy history affecting fisheries. It is argued that Myanmar's fisheries now sit at a potential cross-road in terms of their governance. Taking advantage of Myanmar's latecomer position in its current transition, this article draws parallels with regional experiences to outline sectoral recommendations for policy reform.
  • ... Hydropower generation has been controversial in Myanmar, feeding ethnic tensions in various parts of the country. China has been a major investor in dam construction, often causing discontent among local populations due to lack of feasibility/impact assessments, proper stakeholder consultation and coordination, which often lead to displacement and environmental degradation (Kirchherr et al. 2017;Kattelus et al. 2015;Middleton 2008). Dam construction has also fuelled activism: several activist groups from civil society have been formed to oppose the construction of dams by Chinese and other foreign companies. ...
    Technical Report
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    Myanmar may for a long time remain in a transitional state with an uncertain future. After a series of political and economic liberalization reforms from 2011 onwards, Myanmar’s political trajectory remains open-ended, although the most plausible scenario remains a continued slow democratization process. The democratic opening has been driven largely by the interest of the military rulers in changing Myanmar’s relations with Western states and thereby gaining leverage vis-à-vis China. Continued military influence, persistent capacity problems in political parties and parliamentary politics, weak channels of political representation and limited administrative capacity give rise to critical questions about the substance of democratization and economic development in Myanmar. The country’s informal economy is one of the largest in the world and is upheld by informal elite pacts that were formed in the military era, often involving high-ranking officers and crony companies. Along with a high level of corruption and lack of redistributive mechanisms the continuing cronyism hinders inclusive growth. If these economic structures persist, social and ethnic conflicts may intensify and progress towards further democratization stall. Despite this, foreign direct investments in resource extraction and other sectors have been on the rise since 2011 and are likely to continue. Myanmar is also ranked as the world’s second-most vulnerable country to climate change. The government needs a better understanding of climate change and its effects – both its direct impacts on Myanmar and its indirect impacts via neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh. As Myanmar remains at a crossroads, smart external assistance may have greater long-term impact in Myanmar than in other recipient countries where the situation is less volatile. However, donors may also become increasingly frustrated and reduce their assistance because of the ongoing Rohingya crisis and because of the limited local capacity to absorb international assistance.
  • ... It would enhance navigation possibilities and provide flood control (Lu et al., 2014). On the one hand, the energy trade is an economic and political opportunity because it must be based on cooperation between Myanmar and its neighbouring countries and counters the isolation status which is partly still existent (Kattelus et al., 2015). On the other hand, damming Myanmar's rivers could have very serious negative effects on the river biodiversity and the stability of the deltas (Hedley et al., 2010). ...
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    Full-text available
    Rivers provide a large number of ecosystem services and riparian people depend directly and indirectly on water availability and quality and quantity of the river waters. The country's economy and the people's well-being and income, particularly in agriculturally dominated countries, are strongly determined by the availability of sufficient water. This is particularly true for the country of Myanmar in South-east Asia, where more than 65 % of the population live in rural areas, working in the agricultural sector. Only a few studies exist on river basins in Myanmar at all and detailed knowledge providing the basis for human–water research is very limited. A deeper understanding of human–water system dynamics in the country is required because Myanmar's society, economy, ecosystems and water resources are facing major challenges due to political and economic reforms and massive and rapid investments from neighbouring countries. However, not only policy and economy modify the need for water. Climate variability and change are other essential drivers within human–water systems. Myanmar's climate is influenced by the Indian Monsoon circulation which is subject to interannual and also regional variability. Particularly the central dry zone and the Ayeyarwady delta are prone to extreme events such as serious drought periods and extreme floods. On the one hand, the farmers depend on the natural fertiliser brought by regular river inundations and high groundwater levels for irrigation; on the other hand, they suffer from these water-related extreme events. It is expected that theses climatic extreme events will likely increase in frequency and magnitude in the future as a result of global climate change. Different national and international interests in the abundant water resources may provide opportunities and risks at the same time for Myanmar. Several dam projects along the main courses of the rivers are currently in the planning phase. Dams will most likely modify the river flows, the sediment loads and also the still rich biodiversity in the river basins, to an unknown extent. Probably, these natural and anthropogenically induced developments will also impact a special type of farming; we call it alluvial farming in the river floodplains and on sandbars in the Ayeyarwady River basin in Myanmar, which is called Kaing and Kyun, respectively. Relevant aspects for future development of Myanmar's river basins combine environment-water-related factors, climate, economic and social development, water management and land use changes. Research on these interplays needs to capture the spatial and temporal dynamics of these drivers. However, it is only possible to gain a full understanding of all these complex interrelationships if multi-scale spatiotemporal information is analysed in an inter- and trans-disciplinary approach. This paper gives a structured overview of the current scientific knowledge available and reveals the relevance of this information with regard to human–environment and particularly to human–water interactions in Myanmar's river basins. By applying the eDPSIR framework, it identifies key indicators in the Myanmar human–water system, which has been shown to be exemplary by giving an example of use related to alluvial farming in the central dry zone.
  • ... It would enhance navigation possibilities and provide flood control (Lu et al., 2014). On the one hand, the energy trade is an economic and political opportunity because it must be based on cooperation between Myanmar and its neighbouring countries and counters the isolation status which is partly still existent (Kattelus et al., 2015). On the other hand, damming Myanmar's rivers could have very serious negative effects on the river biodiversity and the stability of the deltas (Hedley et al., 2010). ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    Rivers provide a large number of ecosystem services and riparian people depend directly and indirectly on water availability, quality and quantity of the river waters. The country's economy, the people's well-being and income particularly in agriculturally dominated countries is strongly determined by the availability of sufficient water. This is particularly true for the country of Myanmar in Southeast Asia, where more than 65 % of the population live in rural areas, working in the agricultural sector. Only few research exist on river basins in Myanmar at all and sound knowledge is very limited. Though detailed knowledge and understanding on human-water dynamics in the country is required because Myanmar's society, economy, ecosystems and water resources are facing major challenges due to political and economic reforms and massive and rapid investments from neighbouring countries. However, not only policy and economy modify the need for water. Climate variability and change is another essential driver within human-water systems. Myanmar's climate is influenced by the Indian Monsoon circulation which is subject to interannual and also regional variability. Particularly the central dry zone and the Ayeyarwady delta are prone to extreme events such as serious drought periods and extreme floods. On the one hand, the farmers depend on frequent river flood events for irrigation; on the other hand, they suffer from these water-related extreme events. It is expected that theses climatic extreme events will likely increase in frequency and magnitude in the future as a result of climate change. Different national and international interests in the abundant water resources may provide opportunities and risks at the same time for Myanmar. Several dam projects along the main courses of the rivers are currently in the planning phase. Dams will most likely modify the river flows, the sediment loads and also the still rich biodiversity in the river basins, in a still unknown dimension. Relevant aspects for future development of Myanmar's river basins combine environment-water-related factors, climate, economic and social development, water management and land use changes. Research on this interplays need to capture the spatial and temporal dynamics of this drivers. Yet, it is only possible to gain a full understanding of all these complex interrelationships, when multi-scale spatiotemporal information will be analysed in an inter- and transdisciplinary approach. This paper gives a structured overview on the current scientific knowledge available and reveals the relevance of this information with regard to human-water/human-environment interactions in Myanmar's river basins.
  • ... Studies focusing on those basins provide occasionally detailed data about HP development in downstream countries, but there is an astonishing lack of data for the Yunnan/China side of the basin [7,[21][22][23][24][25]. Failure to appreciate the scale of Yunnan's massive HP development efforts, however, results, at times, in surprising and unsatisfactory conclusions, e.g., [26,27]. • While for the transnational Mekong basin there exists a relatively wide range of studies (though most also suffering from insufficient HP data for the Chinese section), there are almost no comparable studies for the other three transnational basins with a similarly high hydropower potential, leading us to regard them as data-poor basins [6,28,29]. ...
    Article
    Full-text available
    Southwest China's Yunnan province is evolving into one of the world's largest hydro-power-producing regions. It already rivals the world's largest hydro-producing nations. However, five of Yunnan's six basins are international and therefore its hydropower development is of great academic and geopolitical interest. While the implementation of large projects on Yunnan's three large rivers (Jinsha, Mekong and Nu) is relatively well studied, hydropower development outside these three main streams is hardly known. Here, we identified 128 large hydropower projects (≥50 MW) having a capacity of 16.5 GW, along with another 16.4 GW of other types of power generation, neither of which has been discussed in the academic literature yet. The paper utilizes a powershed approach to study the rapid hydropower development underway in Yunnan, both in its implication and challenges (at basin and administrative level) as well as in its trade-offs within the broader electricity context. Yunnan's power generation and consumption patterns are characterized by diverging interests of local/provincial usage and export utilization. Within the province, the largest (hydro-) power users are energy/electricity intensive industries, which themselves have strong impacts on land use changes. Yunnan is also evolving as a major power exporter, already in 2013 exporting about one-third of its generated electricity mainly to Guangdong's Pearl River Delta. We see a need for a critical revision of those existing generation and consumption paradigms, which includes a rethinking of major development modes, both in terms of future hydropower generation and utilization projects as well as export obligations.
  • ... Myanmar has the tremendous hydropower potential of 39,720 MW, of which only 5.9% has been developed (Table 3; WEC, 2010;Irrigation Department, 2011;Kattelus et al., forthcoming). The energy sector is increasingly interested in hydropower development to gain the much needed foreign capital from electricity exports. ...
    Article
    Myanmar's water-related sectors are subject to intensive changes, as the country's abundant land and water resources provide substantial scope for development. Recent steps towards economic reform in Myanmar have led to a surge of foreign investment directed towards intensified natural resource extraction. Both the agricultural and the energy sector are increasingly affected by foreign investments that will impact the status of water, energy and food security in the country. With these on-going developments, Myanmar's future is largely dependent on how its natural resources are managed and how the benefits from the resource extraction are shared. With various institutional changes and new actors welcomed to the sectors, existing livelihoods and ecosystems dependent on the land and water resources are to face increasing competition for the shared resources, while lacking secured access to them. There are increasing concerns that this sectoral development is occurring at the expense of environmental and social sustainability. As one way to tackle these challenges, the water-energy-food nexus approach could help in finding synergies and co-benefits across sectors by addressing the imbalances along the nexus and externalities derived from the on-going intensification.
  • Article
    This paper investigated the current status of hydropower development of ASEAN members and established the hydropower digital planning model, which includes the method for the extraction of the digital drainage network, banded contour line, and stage-storage relation curve based on the secondary development of ESRI ArcGIS 10.2. Then, the theoretical capacity and the hydropower development potential of the main drainages in ASEAN-8 were analyzed based on the proposed hydropower digital planning model. Furthermore, the relative potential electricity markets for the untapped potential sites were analyzed, and the perspective long-term plan for the interregional interconnection among ASEAN-8 members was proposed. Finally, the incentive policies toward foreign investors in ASEAN-8 and the investment environment for China's hydropower enterprises were analyzed. This study shows that Indonesia, Laos, and Myanmar have the richest untapped hydropower resources with the exploitable installed capacity of 61 191 MW, 21 612 MW, and 55 687 MW, respectively. It is found that there is enough electricity market for the untapped hydropower potential sites if the international power exchange could be achieved successfully. This study also indicates that Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, and Myanmar have a more favorable hydropower investment environment for China's hydropower enterprises.
  • Book
    Full-text available
    The Socio-Economic Atlas of Myanmar focuses on the analysis and evaluation of regional differences in geographical conditions, natural resources, infrastructure and, in particular, the socio-economic development in the states and regions of the country in the current transformation process of Myanmar. The Atlas is based on international literature, statistical data, qualitative research and spatial information in a Geographic Information System on Myanmar. The spatial analyses aim to increase the state of knowledge about Myanmar both within the country and abroad, and to support decision-making on spatial development policy.
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  • Chinese firm takes 51 percent interest in Tasang hydropower project
    • K Thu
    Thu, K. (2007) 'Chinese firm takes 51 percent interest in Tasang hydropower project', Myanmar Times, 19 November.
  • From vision to action: a synthesis of national water visions in least-developed countries in Southeast Asia, National Water Vision in Myanmar', The FAO-ESCAP pilot project on national water visions – Phase 2, RAP PublicationHydropower – key to sustainable socioeconomic development of Bhutan
    • L-H Ti
    • T Facon
    • Unescap Fao
    • M Bangkok
    • Kattelus
    Ti, L-H. and Facon, T. (2004) 'From vision to action: a synthesis of national water visions in least-developed countries in Southeast Asia, National Water Vision in Myanmar', The FAO-ESCAP pilot project on national water visions – Phase 2, RAP Publication 2004/32, FAO and UNESCAP, Bangkok. M. Kattelus et al. Tshering, S. and Tamang, B. (2006) 'Hydropower – key to sustainable socioeconomic development of Bhutan', Paper presented at the United Nations Symposium on Hydropower and Sustainable Development, 27–29 October, Beijing, China.
  • Reorienting India: The New Geo-Politics of Asia
    • B G Verghese
    Verghese, B.G. (2001) Reorienting India: The New Geo-Politics of Asia, Konark Publishers, New Delhi.
  • Article
    The main thesis of this paper is to argue that Myanmar is neither a strategic pawn nor an economic pivot of China in the short and immediate term. Since 1988, Sino-Myanmar entente is uneven, asymmetrical, but nevertheless reciprocal and mutually beneficial. The strategic entente and economic relations are a marriage of convenience. However, Myanmar's strategic location on a trijunction between South Asia, Southeast Asia and China is nevertheless economically and strategically significant. Economically, Myanmar is important for China as a trading outlet to the Indian Ocean for its landlocked inland provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan. Strategically, Myanmar is potentially important for China to achieve its strategic presence in the Indian Ocean and its long-term two-ocean objective. Furthermore, a China-Myanmar nexus is strategically useful for China to contain India's influence in Southeast Asia. Finally, Myanmar is part and parcel of China's grand strategic design to achieve its goal of becoming a great power in the 21 st century. Despite the more extensive growing Chinese influence over Myanmar, it is unlikely that Rangoon will become a strategic satellite base for China. Myanmar's strong sense of nationalism, its past ability to successfully deal with foreign powers to preserve its independence and cultural identity, will likely make Myanmar withstand most odds.
  • Article
    The first phase of India's Look East Policy in 1991 was exploratory in nature and tinged with more idealism and optimism to break out of the South Asian region which was stagnating in economic growth. The second phase of India's Look East policy took stock of the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997 to 1998 and China's growing linkages with the Southeast Asian region. In 1997, mainly through the diligence of Thailand, a new grouping that could act as a bridge between Southeast and South Asia was established called BIMSTEC. The objective of the paper will be to argue that BIMSTEC balances India's engagement with Southeast and South Asia but it also counters China's growing influence among ASEAN members, in particular Myanmar. Thailand is the driving force behind BIMSTEC activities as this would enhance its trade hub status and engagement policy with Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam (CMLV) states.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    In the recent years development of global coverage satellite-based data makes them suitable to use for prediction in ungauged or poor data basins. Moreover, a proxy catchment also can closely resemble the hydrological behavior of target basin. This study has presented modeling runoff generation for prediction hydrological responses in large basins with lack of access to observed data. A parsimonious distributed hydrological model (BTOPMC) is used. It is shown that how the proxy catchment can be applied for parameter estimation of an ungauged-large basin. Despite of the underestimation of flow volume by satellite-based precipitation, the overall performance of application is encouraging for long term modeling in large basin. The result gives motivation for application of method in ungauged or poor data basins using proper proxy catchment.
  • Article
    The increasing availability of spatial data inspires the exploration of previously less-studied, yet regionally and nationally important areas, such as the Irrawaddy and Salween River Basins in Southeast Asia. This article documents our experience using global datasets to create environmental basin profiles in these two basins. Our approach draws on the concepts of freshwater vulnerability assessments that guided the selection of indicators. Data on land use, population distribution and fertilizer load were used. The unit of analysis was chosen to distinguish areas with similar bio-geographical characteristics, such as the critical delta areas. Results were further discussed for sub-areas that experience relatively the most pressure in terms of examined indicators within the studied area. The river mouths of both rivers had the most intensive land use and high population density. They are also home to important ecosystems and are sensitive to changes in upstream areas. Our study presents a concise and spatially distributed view of the environmental basin profiles of the Irrawaddy and Salween River Basins. The analysis also provides some interesting methodological insights about the potential of public macro-scale datasets for environmental assessment. The spatial approach allowed the analysis of different indicators, providing a platform for data integration as well as a visually powerful overview of the study area. Yet, the use of macro-scale datasets entails challenges. Despite improvements, the assessment process tends to be driven by the availability and quality of data, rather than by the actual research and management needs. The greatest utility of macro-scale datasets lies-at least in data-poor areas-in larger scale comparative analyses between the basins and their different sub-areas.
  • Article
    This paper analyses the current status of hydropower development in two major rivers basins in South Asia, the Ganges and the Brahmaputra. The total drainage area of the basins is about 1,660,000 km² shared by China, Nepal, India, Bhutan and Bangladesh. These two basins are blessed with ample water resources and huge hydropower potential. The abundant hydropower potential of these rivers basins is the key driving force behind the prospect of potential transboundary cooperation in the field of water and can help providing riparian countries with a safer energy future. Based on five years of research studies (2005-2010), this paper analyses the hydropower development plans and ambitions of riparian nations with special focus on China and India. The finding suggests that it is essential to develop an integrated hydropower development approach involving all riparian nations intended to foster regional development and overcome the prospect of severe conflict because of unilateral hydropower ambitions of China and India. The hydropower development cooperation among the riparian nations could also become the positive turning point in the integration of South and Southeast Asia.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    We present a time series of coastline change for the Irrawaddy delta region of Myanmar using the earliest available navigation chart from 1850, and a set of topographic maps and satellite imagery dating from 1913 to 2006. Despite the large sediment load delivered annually to the gulf by the Irrawaddy and Salween Rivers, the coastline has been largely stable for 156 years, advancing at an average rate of no more than 0.34 km per century since 1925. The long-term average rate of increase in land area across the study area between 1925 and 2006 is 4.2 km2/year, but this masks a period of more rapid accumulation between 1925 and 1989 (8.7 km2/year), followed by a period of net erosion at a rate of 13 km2/year until 2006. Less than 9% of the sediment load delivered to the study region by the Irrawaddy, Salween and Sittoung Rivers has contributed to the observed progradation, with the remainder being exported into the Gulf of Martaban to depths below low tide level, or filling any accommodation space created due to subsidence or sea level rise. In contrast to many deltas worldwide, we suggest that the coastline encompassing the Irrawaddy delta and the Salween River is more or less in equilibrium, and that sediment deposition currently balances subsidence and sea level rise. Myanmar has fewer large dams relative to its Asian neighbours, and the Salween is currently undammed. This is forecast to change in the next 5–10 years with extensive damming projects on the mainstem of the Salween under consideration or construction, and the sediment retention will cause losses in sediment supply to the Gulf of Martaban, and retreat of the delta. This could impact the densely populated delta region and Yangon, and further exacerbate the impacts of extreme events such as Cyclone Nargis in 2008.
  • Article
    Along with high-speed economic development and increasing energy consumption, the Chinese Government faces a growing pressure to maintain the balance between energy supply and demand. In 2009, China has become both the largest energy consumer and CO2 emitting country in the world. In this case, the inappropriate energy consumption structure should be changed. As an alternative, a suitable infrastructure for the implementation of renewable energy may serve as a long-term sustainable solution. The perspective of a 100% renewable energy system has been analyzed and discussed in some countries previously. In this process, assessment of domestic renewable energy sources is the first step. Then appropriate methodologies are needed to perform energy system analyses involving the integration of more sustainable strategies. Denmark may serve as an example of how sustainable strategies can be implemented. The Danish system has demonstrated the possibility of converting into a 100% renewable energy system. This paper discusses the perspective of renewable energy in China firstly, and then analyses whether it is suitable to adopt similar methodologies applied in other countries as China approaches a renewable energy system. The conclusion is that China's domestic renewable energy sources are abundant and show the possibility to cover future energy demand; the methodologies used to analyse a 100% renewable energy system are applicable in China. Therefore, proposing an analysis of a 100% renewable energy system in China is not unreasonable.
  • Article
    The serial underperformer of the region, Myanmar's economy is largely without the institutions and qualities necessary to achieve genuine economic growth. This paper explores the fundamentals of Myanmar's economy, from a perspective that emphasizes policy and institutional failure as the principal determinants of the country's present circumstances. The paper explores Myanmar's economy in a multifaceted way, examining concerns over economic growth, public finances, monetary and financial policies, corruption, and international trade. Notwithstanding the change in the form of Myanmar's governing institutions following the elections of November 2010, the paper concludes pessimistically as to the likelihood of meaningful economic reform in the foreseeable future.
  • Article
    Since the 1990s, energy development has become a major focus of economic cooperation in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS). Based on privatization and deregulation, multinational banks have advocated the establishment of a regional power-grid-based market. However, this strategy has been subject to many barriers. In discussing this proposal in detail, this paper focuses on national interest, policy-making and institutional issues. It is argued that if regional cooperation is to be viable in the GMS, partner nations should work towards improving international relations, adopting a flexible approach to energy policy making and energy sector reform, and balancing the basic needs of local people for energy consumption and power market issues. Mitigating the social and environmental impacts of energy projects and establishing an effective regional energy agency are also great challenges to the regional cooperation.
  • Article
    Thailand uses 74% of its natural gas supply for power generation and 70% of its power comes from gas-based technology. High dependence on natural gas in power generation raises concerns about security of electricity supply that could affect competitiveness of Thai manufacturing and other industries at the global level. The effect of fuel dependence on security of electricity supply has received less emphasis in the literature. Given this gap, this research examines the economic impact of high dependence on natural gas for power generation in Thailand by analyzing the effect of changes in fuel prices (including fuel oil and natural gas) on electricity tariff in Thailand. At the same time, the research quantifies the vulnerability of the Thai economy due to high gas dependence in power generation. Our research shows that for every 10% change in natural gas price, electricity tariff in Thailand would change by 3.5%. In addition, we found that the gas bill for power generation consumed between 1.94% and 3.05% of gross domestic product (GDP) between 2000 and 2004 and in terms of GDP share per unit of energy, gas dependence in power generation is almost similar to that of crude oil import dependence. We also found that the basic metal industry, being an electricity intensive industry, is the most affected industry. Additionally, we find that volatility of gas price is the main factor behind the vulnerability concern. The research accordingly simulates two mitigation options of the problem, namely reducing gas dependence and increasing efficiency of gas-fired power plants, where the results show that these methods can reduce the vulnerability of the country from high gas dependence in power generation.
  • Article
    The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is one of the most dynamic economic regions of the world. Its economy is linked with its diverse energy resources, high-level urbanization, and rapid industrialization. ASEAN's growing economy in the last two decades has increased the concern of sustainable development in the face of deteriorating energy security, environmental pollution, and economic hardship in energy investment. However, opportunities exist to tackle these issues. Increasing energy efficiency (both supply and demand side), exploitation of renewable energy resources (mostly hydro), and an integrated approach on energy resource management are some of the important approaches toward the sustainable energy path. Because the options are capital-intensive, cooperation and development of appropriate institutional structures and decision mechanism across the region are urgently needed.
  • Article
    Approximately 78% of China's electricity demand is met by burning coal, which has taken a serious toll on the environment. Hydropower represents a sustainable alternative source, and China already derives 16% of its electricity supply from hydropower. However, evidence from other hydroelectric projects such as the Three Gorges Dam suggests that the socioeconomic consequences of such large public works projects are enormous.A series of dams has been proposed for the middle and lower reaches of the Nu River (Upper Salween) in Yunnan Province. If completed, the 13-dam cascade would have greater power-generating potential than the Three Gorges Dam. However, the Nu is considered to be the last “virgin” river in China, and many of the proposed dams are located in an environmentally-sensitive area. Moreover, approximately 50,000 people – many of them ethnic minorities – would be forced to resettle by the resulting reservoirs [Yardley, Jim. “Dam Building Threatens China's ‘Grand Canyon’.” New York Times, 2004, March 10.]. Finally, the economic status of northwestern Yunnan is quite low, suggesting that socioeconomic vulnerabilities among the displaced population would be quite acute. Although construction has officially been halted, surveying has begun on at least five of the dams, and Wang [Wang, Xiaozong, “Quan Guo Ren Da Guan Yuan: Nu Jiang Shui Dian Kai Fa Bu Yi Cao Zhi Guo Ji”, China Economics Weekly, 2008, March 31.] reports that the actual construction process has begun on one of these dams.After providing a detailed account of China's electricity supply, this paper quantifies China's hydropower potential. We then describe the socioeconomic effects of population displacement from dam development using the Three Gorges Dam as a case study. Next, we provide a detailed economic profile of the Nu River area, arguing that poor farmers from disparate language groups are more likely to face extreme vulnerabilities in the resettlement process. Finally, we employ microevidence from interviews of affected households to demonstrate that the dam construction process in western Yunnan has been neither transparent nor consultative.
  • Article
    Water is strongly linked with the overall development framework of the Brahmaputra basin. However, the absence of integrated management of Brahmaputra water resources and lack of coordination among the riparian states constitutes an ongoing threat to future development plans within the basin. Brahmaputra's abundant hydropower potential can help give riparian countries a safer energy future that is the key driving force behind the prospect of potential cooperation. This paper analyses the current status of Brahmaputra water resources and identifies the perspectives of riparian countries regarding the development of the Brahmaputra basin. It also identifies the opportunities for cooperation and regional development through integrated water development and management of the Brahmaputra basin. It is essential to develop an integrated water resources management approach involving all riparians to foster regional development and overcome the prospect of severe water conflict along the Brahmaputra basin.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    The aim of this research is to highlight the various factors relating to the water conflict among the riparian countries in the Ganges basin and to examine the potential benefits of integrated water development. Lack of cooperation between the nations involved who promote a nationalistic approach for the management of the basin have made integrated development difficult. This paper examines the issues related to the utilization of the Ganges water resources, regional water-based development potentials and views of riparian countries on integrated Ganges basin management. It identifies four types of prospective benefit from integrated Ganges basin management: benefits to the river; benefits from the river; reducing costs because of the river; and benefits beyond the river. Finally, it recommends guidelines to overcome the constraints to integrated Ganges management and, hence, achieve overall regional development. This paper stresses the need to develop an integrated water management approach intended to foster regional development and overcome the prospect of severe water conflict along the Ganges basin.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    The Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) River of Myanmar is ranked as having the fifth-largest suspended load and the fourth- highest total dissolved load of the world's rivers, and the combined Irrawaddy and Salween (Thanlwin) system is regarded as contributing 20% of the total flux of material from the Himalayan-Tibetan orogen. The estimates for the Irrawaddy are taken from published quotations of a nineteenth-century data set, and there are no available published data for the Myanmar reaches of the Salween. Apart from our own field studies in 2005 and 2006, no recent research documenting the sediment load of these important large rivers has been conducted, although their contribution to biogeochemical cycles and ocean geochemistry is clearly significant. We present a reanalysis of the Irrawaddy data from the original 550-page report of Gordon covering 10 yr of discharge (1869-1879) and 1 yr of sediment concentration measurements (1877-1878). We describe Gordon's methodologies, evaluate his measurements and calculations and the adjustments he made to his data set, and present our revised interpretation of nineteenth-century discharge and sediment load with an estimate of uncertainty. The 10-yr average of annual suspended sediment load currently cited in the literature is assessed as being underestimated by 27% on the basis of our sediment rating curve of the nineteenth- century data. On the basis of our sampling of suspended load, the nineteenth-century concentrations are interpreted to be missing about 18% of their total mass, which is the proportion of sediment recovered by a 0.45-mm filter. The new annual Irrawaddy suspended sediment load is MT. Our revised estimate of the annual sediment load 364 60 from the Irrawaddy-Salween system for the nineteenth century (600 MT) represents more than half the present-day Ganges-Brahmaputra flux to the Indian Ocean. Since major Chinese rivers have reduced their load due to damming, the Irrawaddy is likely the third-largest contributor of sediment load in the world.
  • Article
    In line with China's "going out" strategy, China's dam industry has in recent years significantly expanded its involvement in overseas markets. The Chinese Export-Import Bank and other Chinese financial institutions, state-owned enterprises, and private firms are now involved in at least 93 major dam projects overseas. The Chinese government sees the new global role played by China's dam industry as a "win-win" situation for China and host countries involved. But evidence from project sites such as the Merowe Dam in Sudan demonstrates that these dams have unrecognized social and environmental costs for host communities. Chinese dam builders have yet to adopt internationally accepted social and environmental standards for large infrastructure development that can assure these costs are adequately taken into account. But the Chinese government is becoming increasingly aware of the challenge and the necessity of promoting environmentally and socially sound investments overseas.
  • Article
    The paper outlines the major efforts in developing the environmental management mechanism in Myanmar. It covers the inception of a national level organization established to handle the environmental issues of the country: why it is not so effective as intended, examines the current laws and policies designed to address these issues, discusses the current practices in environmental conservation and identifies new initiatives to integrate environmental policy objectives into sector-wise development policies.
  • Article
    Full-text available
    Against the background of closer diplomatic, political and security ties between Myanmar and China since 1988, their economic relations have also grown stronger throughout the 1990s and up to 2005. China is now a major supplier of consumer and capital goods to Myanmar, in particular through border trade. China also provides a large amount of economic cooperation in the areas of infrastructure, energy and state-owned economic enterprises. Nevertheless, Myanmar’s trade with China has failed to have a substantial impact on its broad-based economic and industrial development. China’s economic cooperation apparently supports the present regime, but its effects on the whole economy will be limited with an unfavorable macroeconomic environment and distorted incentives structure. As a conclusion, strengthened economic ties with China will be instrumental in regime survival, but will not be a powerful force affecting the process of economic development in Myanmar.
  • Article
    Energy is a key ingredient of the socio-economic development of any region. South Asia is not only one of the fastest growing regions in the world; it is also one of the poorest, which thus puts energy at the very heart of the development process in the region. This paper looks at the challenges faced by the South Asia sub-region for economic co-operation (SASEC) comprised of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal, and also at the role of greater regional energy co-operation therein. The region is characterized by pressures of growing economies and increasing population. While the per capita energy consumption is one of the lowest in the world, energy intensity continues to be very high. A large portion of the population lacks access to modern sources of energy and depends on traditional sources that are not only inefficient but also have severe health and environmental problems associated with them. Increasing oil import dependency and huge investment needs for energy market development pose a further challenge. The region has a good resource potential and tremendous scope for energy co-operation, which can play a key role in addressing many of these energy security concerns and in putting it on the path of sustainable development. It is ironic that the record in the area has been so limited and that too in the most basic form of co-operation, i.e. bilateral arrangements between countries. This paper puts forth a multi-pronged strategy for sub-regional energy co-operation encompassing softer options aimed at confidence building to more substantial and larger scale co-operation efforts. Delays in decision making to ensure stronger and mutually beneficial co-operation efforts are associated with high costs not only to the energy sector but also for the entire development agenda. With the precarious energy situation in the region and unprecedented increases in international oil prices seen in recent times, it is high time for policy makers, financing institutions, NGOs and the civil society to push for a greater integration of the SASEC energy sector.
  • Article
    The Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Economic Cooperation was created by six countries sharing the Mekong River namely Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Yunnan Province of the People's Republic of China, with the help by the Asian Development Bank in 1992. The nine priority areas of activities in this cooperation include transport, telecommunications, energy, tourism, human resources development, environment, agriculture, trade, and investment. In the last 10 years, many projects have been completed or are being undertaken including the development of North–South, East–West, and Southern Economic Corridors which are road networks linking many of these six GMS members, the generation of electricity trade between Lao PDR and Thailand, and the agreement to facilitate cross-border movement of goods and people. As these GMS members are market-based open economies, the potential benefits from this cooperation are large. However, there are problems concerning the different levels of development, and the relative lack of political stability in some member countries that may slow down the progress and full benefits of this subregional cooperation.