GMS Environment Media Roundup–January 2016

Greater Mekong Subregion

Thailand's forest rangers step up training in violent 'blood wood' war
It’s dawn in Thailand’s Eastern forest, and the sound of combat boots echoes through the jungle mist at Ta Phraya national park’s headquarters.
Source: The Guardian (January 2016)
Asean members urged to speed up tariff reductions
To deepen Asean collaboration, each of the 10 member states has accelerated reduction of its import tariffs for many sensitive products and continues to work on drafting an Asean master plan for 2016-25.
Source: The Nation (27 January 2016)
Thai-Myanmar trade expected to double in 2 years
Thailand and Myanmar are set to double bilateral trade to between Bt350 billion and Bt420 billion within two years, while also promoting cross-border trade to Bt300 billion, under closer cooperation through the Joint Trade Commission (JTC) and Asean integration.
Source: The Nation (7 January 2016)
Mekong drought plan raises concerns
Non-governmental organizations have expressed concern about a government decision to tackle the drought crisis by diverting water from the Mekong River.
Source: The Nation (29 January 2016)
Mekong diversion under way in Thailand
The Thai government’s planned diversion of billions of cubic metres of water from the Mekong River, described last week by a Thai Ministry of Water Resources representative as being as far as two years away, has already begun.
Source: Phnom Penh Post (26 January 2016)
Chinese solar panel makers shift to Thailand for growth
Rising costs and steep anti-dumping duties in the United States and Europe, coupled with a desire to expand overseas, are increasingly driving major Chinese solar panel makers' new investments away from the domestic market, the world's largest, to neighboring Thailand.
Source: China Daily (25 January 2016)
Vietnam to import power from Laos
Importing electricity from neighbouring countries, including Laos, is one of several measures being adopted to help Viet Nam meet the electricity demand for socio-economic development.
Source: Viet Nam Net (30 January 2016)
Laos and China come to terms on loan interest rate for railway project
Laos and China have reached an agreement on the interest rate for a U.S. $480 million loan to build the high-speed Lao-China railway, according to the Lao government official in charge of the multibillion-dollar project, although the figure has not been publicly disclosed.
Source: Radio Free Asia ( 4 January 2016)
Video: New Myanmar govt faces pressure on Chinese infrastructure projects
The incoming administration must introduce better accountability mechanisms and international standards for projects undertaken by Chinese companies, according to observers.
Source: Channel News Asia (4 January 2016)


WWF mapping project shows Mondulkiri forest in danger
A sophisticated new environmental analysis software package has painted a grim picture of Mondulkiri province’s future environmental health.
Source: Phnom Penh Post (27 January 2016)
Wonder of the aquatic world under threat from plans for Mekong dams
In a few months’ time, monsoon rains will more than quadruple the size of Cambodia’s Tonlé Sap, south-east Asia’s greatest lake and one of the wonders of the aquatic world. The huge flood will reverse the seaward flow of the river that feeds into the lake, submerge forests, make a perfect wetland for spawning fish and will replenish soils for a rich rice harvest.
Source: The guardian (8 January 2016)
New body to address Sesan dam concerns
The Ministry of Mines and Energy has created a committee to resolve compensation and resettlement issues for 1,000 families displaced by the controversial Lower Sesan II hydropower dam in Stung Treng province.
Source: Phnom Penh Post (27 January 2016)
Timber tycoon back in spotlight
Tycoon Try Pheap is denying any link to a Chinese-owned company under investigation for illegal logging in the northeast by the committee set up by Prime Minister Hun Sen in a mid-January to crack down on forest crimes.
Source: Khmer Times (31 January 2016)
PM defends logging tycoons
Prime Minister Hun Sen has defended the actions of two prominent tycoons accused of logging vast stretches of forest in Cambodia’s protected Virachey National Park as “legal,” according to a letter obtained by the Post.
Source: Phnom Penh Post (26 January 2016)
Timber burned at Mondulkiri ELC
Hundreds of logs of timber, including luxury wood, as well as sawmill camps were torched at a controversial Vietnamese-owned economic land concession in Mondulkiri province’s Keo Seima district in an apparent bid to destroy evidence of illegal logging ahead of a raid by a new anti-logging committee.
Source: Phnom Penh Post (25 January 2016)

More timber burns in Mondulkiri as NGO calls for answers
Timber stockpiles in two former Mondulkiri economic land concessions went up in flames over the past few days, with authorities blaming forest fires, an explanation one observer characterised as an “excuse”.
Source: Phnom Penh Post (28 January 2016)
Report that new ELCs were granted to logging barons ‘false’
In an open letter to the Ministry of Environment, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) asked yesterday for confirmation of a January 19 report in the Cambodia Daily that said new economic land concessions (ELCs) had been given to two tycoons despite a ban on granting ELCs.
Source: Khmer Times (27 January 2016)
Environmental activists briefly held in Laos
Two Cambodian environmental activists were reportedly detained by Lao authorities yesterday while photographing construction of the Don Sahong dam near the border with Cambodia’s Stung Treng province.
Source: Phnom Penh Post (25 January 2016)
Cambodians toxic love affair with plastic
An Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies (ACRA) survey has found that the average person living in a Cambodian city uses roughly ten times the number of plastic bags as their counterparts in China and various countries in Europe, according to a Monday press release. 
Source: Khmer Times (26 January 2016)
Water birds make comeback in Battambang
Water bird numbers are making a big comeback in the Prek Toal conservation area on the Tonle Sap lake in Battambang province, the Wildlife Conservation Society said in a report released on Saturday.
Source: Phnom Penh Post (25 January 2016)
Video captures wild Asian elephants roaming in Cambodian forest
Wild Asian elephants roam through the forest in the Cardamom Mountains in Cambodia is a video released on Friday by the environmental group Conservation International.
Source: Reuters (15 January 2016)

People’s Republic of China
Pressure mounts on AIIB for greater clarity on green lending
The China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) formally came into existence on January 16, but many environmental campaigners want to see greater clarity from the world’s newest multilateral development lender. 
Source: China Dialogue (27 January 2015)
China launches new AIIB development bank as power balance shifts
Chinese President Xi Jinping launched a new international development bank seen as a rival to the U.S.-led World Bank at a lavish ceremony on Saturday, as Beijing seeks to change the unwritten rules of global development finance.
Source: Reuters ( 17 January 2016)
New environmental guidelines shift focus, add two more air pollution targets
China's new five-year national development plan shifts the country's environmental focus and expands by two the airborne pollutants targeted for reduction in an effort to control severe smog.
Source: China Daily (22 January 2016)
China's coal-burning in significant decline, figures show
Coal-burning in China is in significant decline, according to official figures released on Tuesday, signalling a major turnaround for the world’s biggest polluter.
Source: The Guardian (19 January 2015)
Top court upholds record penalty of $26m for water pollution
China's top court rejected on Thursday an application for a new hearing of an environmental public interest case, upholding the original ruling.
Source: China Daily (22 January 2016)
Sessions call out leaders on pollution
Chinese environmental authorities summoned leaders from five cities over the past two days to reprimand them for severe pollution in their jurisdictions and for illegal - and damaging - mineral explorations in nature reserves.
Source: China Daily (15 January 2016)
Smog smells like big profits for tour firms
Tourism companies are cashing in on North China's smog woes by offering "clean air getaways" for residents looking for a breather.
Source: China Daily (8 January 2016)
Roundtable: what are the benefits of China's ban on new coal mines?
On the final day of 2015, China’s central government said it would suspend the approval of new mines, with the ban starting in 2016, cutting coal’s share of national energy consumption to 62.6% in 2017, down from 64.4% currently.
Source: China Dialogue ( 14 January 2015)
China seeks strength beyond size
Last year's big-ticket developments in China's nuclear power industry signify two key themes: the country's inexorable shift towards clean energy, in line with its commitment to be a responsible, climate-conscious economic giant, and its determination to be a leading global nuclear player in the decades to come.
Source: China Dialogue (25 January 2015)
UK’s finance sector aims to bolster green lending
As countries prepare to implement the Paris climate agreement, London-based financial institutions make new push to expand green finance, write John McGarrity and Charlotte Middlehurst
Source: China Dialogue ( 15 January 2015)
Vehicle exhausts a growing scourge, environmental authority reports
China has over 16 million aging vehicles with excessive emissions, making vehicle exhaust an increasingly larger source of smog, the national environmental authority said on Tuesday.
Source: China Daily (19 January 2016)
Guangxi boosts ASEAN trade
The Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, which has a long history of contact with Southeast Asia, thanks to its affinity in language, culture and customs, is set to become China's pathway to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, forming a new strategic pivot in Southwest and Central China's opening up. China Daily spoke with Peng Qinghua, the region's Party chief, to find out more.
Source: China Dialogue ( 13 January 2015)
Sino-Myanmar Railway Bridge with longest span in the world starts construction
Construction begins on the Nu River Bridge, a project along the Sino-Myanmar Railway, on Jan. 24. It will be the steel truss railroad bridge with the longest span in the world.
Source: People's Daily Online ( 25 January 2016)

Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Cabinet meeting approves National Human Resource Development Through 2025
The monthly cabinet meeting for January considered and approved a strategic draft of national human resource development through 2025 and its action plan for 2016-2020.
Source:  Lao News Agency ( 28 January 2016)
Convoy of Lao trucks transports logs to Vietnam, despite ban on timber exports
Laos has continued to transport logs from its forests to Vietnam, despite a government ban on timber exports that took effect in August and a leaked report by an international environmental group two months ago, revealing huge increases in illegal logging with the implication of government collusion.
Source: Radio Free Asia ( 4 January 2016)
What the AEC means for Laos
The ASEAN economic community (AEC), which will be enacted on 31 December 2015, presents new opportunities for Laos, but it also underlines significant challenges.
Source: East Asia Forum ( 1 January 2016)


Activists demand open logging discussions with China
About 80 civil society organisations are demanding more transparency on discussions between Myanmar and China over a bilateral memorandum of understanding (MOU) that is being signed, according to environmental activist Htet Htet.
Source: Nation Multimedia (8 January 2016)

Myanmar, Japan-linked consortium reach agreement on new airport plan
The Myanmar government and a consortium that includes Japanese engineering firm JGC Corp. has reached a broad agreement over a plan to construct a new airport on the outskirts of the country’s largest city, Yangon.
Source: Japan Times (31 January 2015)
Energy crisis predicted after 2020
Myanmar may face an energy crisis after 2020 as oil and gas production has declined and the newly discovered sites are not ready to fill the gap, according to Than Tun, an adviser to Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprises under the Ministry of Energy.
Source: Eleven Myanmar (17 January 2016)
Activists threaten to expose mining bribery
The representatives of civil society organisations (CSOs) said they would reveal government corruption in their next Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) report.
Source: Eleven Myanmar ( 21 January 2016)
Four hydropower projects get green light
Four hydropower plants are being planned on the Doketawaddy River and expected to generate around 1,150 megawatts, according to state newspapers.
Source: Eleven Myanmar ( 17 January 2016)

Low water hinders Kayah hydropower plants
Water levels supplying the Baluchaung hydropower plants in Lawpita, Loikaw Township, Kayah State, have been declining for a month.
Source: Eleven Myanmar (3 January 2016)
Jade mines stepping up operations: activist
Hpakant’s jade mining companies are speeding up their work despite widespread criticism, resident say.
Source: Eleven Myanmar (9 January 2016)


Thailand scrambles to drill wells amid drought and water shortages
Thai authorities are rushing to drill thousands of wells across the country to ensure enough water for drinking and washing, as farmers grapple with a drought and a months-long water shortage.
Source: Reuters (January 19, 2016)
PM blames past policies for drought
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has blamed past policies that heavily promoted cash crops as a root cause of floods and drought.
Source: Bangkok Post (29 January 2016)
Drought hits half of country, but rice bowl seen surviving
Slightly more than half of the country is facing water shortages, but the Royal Irrigation Department remains confident the Central Plain will survive the dry season.
Source: Bangkok Post ( 11 January 2016)
Asia shrimp farmers restock mangrove "supermarket" by going organic
Surakit Laeaddee walks along the narrow banks of earth dividing his organic shrimp and fish ponds, rests under the shade of a tree he recently planted, and points to the lush mangroves marking out his plot.
Source: Reuters (31 January 2016)
Critics savage 99-year land lease scheme
Criticism has flared over the government's plan to amend a law to allow foreign investors to lease state land for up to 99 years.
Source: Bangkok Post (28 January 2016)
Activists blast S44 use to kick-start power projects
Environmental activists and community residents have voiced opposition to the orders issued under Section 44 of the interim charter to clear the way for the construction of several power plants stalled by protests.
Source: Bangkok Post ( 23 January 2016)
Sustainable Thailand
The Tourism and Sports Ministry plans to promote community-based tourism (CBT) to attract quality tourists and to increase earnings within local communities.
Source: Bangkok Post ( 28 January 2016)
Protest mounts over irrigation project
A Department of Royal Irrigation project to build water sluice gates over the Loei River could cause heavy flooding during the rainy season, villagers in Loei warned Thursday.
Source: Bangkok Post (22 January 2016)

Viet Nam 

Environment sector declares 2016 aims
The Vietnamese environment sector's main tasks this year include administrative reform, tightened controls on natural resources and more measures to tackle climate change.
Source: Viet Nam News (7 January 2016)
How much economic value does the Mekong River bring to Vietnam?
The fish caught from the Mekong River alone make up 3.1 percent of Vietnam’s GDP.
Source: Viet Nam Net ( 25 January 2016)
Impact of climate pact on VN mulled
The impact of the Paris Agreement reached at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) on Viet Nam and the country's preparations for implementing the deal were analysed and discussed at a workshop in Ha Noi yesterday.
Source: Viet Nam News ( 22 January 2016)
Forum to prepare VN for implementation of 2015 Paris Agreement
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment will invite heads of international development partners to a high-level policy forum in March to prepare for Viet Nam's implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Source: Viet Nam News ( 20 January 2016)
Vietnam defines priorities for ASEAN co-operation in 2016
At the regional level, ministries agreed to effectively implement the ASEAN Community Vision to 2025 and master plans to strengthen the pillars of politics-security, economics, and culture-society, particularly, initiatives on enhancing connectivity between member countries and narrowing development gaps.
Source: Nhan Dan (9 January 2016)
Over 4,600 units, people punished for violating environment rules
More than 4,600 units and individuals violating natural resources and environment regulations have been punished over the past decade, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) Chu Pham Ngoc Hien said.
Source: Vietnam Plus ( 28 January 2016)
Gia Lai works to preserve Kon Ka Kinh national park
The Central Highlands province of Gia Lai has implemented a number of measures to make the Kon Ka Kinh National Park become a biodiversity reserve hub in accordance with environmental protection and ecological tourism.
Source: Vietnam Plus ( 29 January 2016)
Printing firm pollutes river with untreated wastewater
Police in the southern Tay Ninh Province caught a Chinese company in the act of discharging untreated wastewater into a local river yesterday.
Source: Vietnam Plus (13 January 2016)
Agricultural sector urged to drastically implement development measures
The agricultural and rural development sector needs to drastically and synchronously implement measures to promote its achievements as well as overcome difficulties and limitations to fulfill all tasks and targets in 2016.
Source: Nhan Dan ( 5 January 2016)
Wood business contaminates town in Dak Nong Province
The Long Viet MDF Wooden Technology JSC has been slow to improve its environmental protection practices even though the Dak Nong Province authorities have punished them several times.
Source: Viet Nam News ( 4 January 2016)

Publish Date: 3rd February 2016

Last Updated: 3rd February 2016

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