GMS Environment Update - Issue 10

Welcome to Issue 10 of the GMS Environment Update,  a compilation of recent environment news and articles from the GMS Core Environment Program, the Asian Development Bank, the governments of the six GMS countries, and the WWF-Greater Mekong Programme. This product aims to keep GMS stakeholders up-to-date on the latest sustainable development happenings in the subregion. If you would like to receive future issues direct to your inbox, please sign up to our mailing list here.

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GMS Environment Update ​- Issue 10.pdf 506 KB 15-06-2016

Publish Date: 15th June 2016

Last Updated: 15th June 2016

See more content: GMS General

See also

GMS Environment Media Roundup–February 2016

1st March 2016
News

Greater Mekong Subregion

Help at hand for countries desperately seeking climate cash
Several big international funds, including the U.N. Green Climate Fund, are trying to dole out billions of dollars to countries and communities to help them tackle climate change by adapting to extreme weather and adopting renewable energy.
Source: Reuters (18 February 2016)

Coal power on the rise: Mekong Region digs in
While initiatives by the Asian Development Bank, ASEAN, United States, Japan, France and the private sector aim to advance renewable energy within the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), coal-fired power plants are slated to become an increasingly larger share of the region’s electricity generating portfolio.
Source: The Mekong Eye (15 February 2016)

The Mekong river: damned if you do
The greatest of all South-East Asia’s waterways and the world’s 12th-longest river, the Mekong, is a natural wonder that ties together the destinies of half a dozen countries.
Source: The Economist (13 February 2016)

Thailand diverts Mekong, Vietnam put in danger
Thailand has begun taking water from the Mekong River and pumping it into its northeastern areas, which are suffering from drought.
Source: VietNamNet Bridge (16 February 2016)

Thai communities vow to appeal against Laos dam
Even after losing a battle in the Thailand Administrative Court, a group of Thai villagers are not giving up. They have filed appeal after losing the first community-led lawsuit in the region to challenge a large dam on the Mekong river.
Source: China Dialogue (18 February 2016)

Illegal logging has become more violent than ever
After a productive day—they’d encountered a gang of illegal loggers and confiscated six chain saws—the four patrollers in Cambodia’s Preah Vihear Protected Forest strung up their hammocks and settled in for the night.
Source: National Geographic (3 February 2016)

Forest losses in Asia-Pacific alarm FAO
Access to technology and knowledge about forests is necessary for communities and smallholder farmers to achieve sustainable forest management and halt deforestation.
Source: Scidev Net (29 February 2016)

China’s Belt and Road initiative ripe with possibilities
Following the launch of its ambitious Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (Belt and Road) initiative in a big way, China followed it up with last month’s official inauguration of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which is now operational.
Source: The Nation (3 February 2016)

What a new Vietnam-Russia deal says about the Mekong’s future
It is potentially an unusual business transaction. While the prospect of a Vietnamese company taking over a Russian group in of itself is unusual, the buyout of a strategic stake in a major fish distributor is also a reflection of changing attitudes to the management of the Mekong River.
Source: The Diplomat (13 February 2016)

Energy for ASEAN’s less developed countries
The access to reliable and affordable sources of energy plays a critical role in the economic development of any country. This Bloomberg video presents the challenges of Myanmar and Laos to manage their energetic resources and develop their economy in relation with their Southeast Asian neighbors.
Source: Asean Up (11 February 2016)

Climate model sees warmer Southeast Asia
Study predicts the ‘strongest warming’ up to 5°C to occur in the region’s mainland in the next 100 years.
Source: Ecobusiness (2 February 2016)

Feasibility study of Laos-VN railway line begins
The transport ministry will conduct the feasibility study of a 550km-long railway line, linking Laos' Vientiane to Vung Ang in Ha Tinh, Viet Nam, from December 2015 to December 2017.
Source: Vietnam News (22 February 2016)


Cambodia

PM gives ministers an 'F', lashes out at illegal logging task force
Prime Minister Hun Sen unleashed a tirade against underperforming government officials in a pair of speeches yesterday – musing aloud about reshuffling his Council of Ministers and wondering why rockets had not yet been deployed in the Kingdom’s recent “crackdown” on illegal logging.
Source: Phnom Penh Post (26 February 2016)

Kingdom ranks low on global green list
Cambodia has performed poorly in the 2016 edition of a recent environmental report, ranking a dismal 146 out of 180 countries.
Source: Phnom Penh Post (18 February 2016)

Hun Sen orders rocket attacks on Cambodia’s illegal loggers
Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered the head of a recently established anti-logging committee to get tough on the country’s illegal timber trade by blasting smugglers with rockets fired from helicopters.
Source: Radio Free Asia (26 February 2016)

Official gets called out in sanctuary logging case
Two men have been arrested over, and a military official implicated in, illegal logging that took place at the protected Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary last week.
Source: Phnom Penh Post (16 February 2016)

Seeds of destruction?
At Think Biotech, re­forestation starts every morning to the buzz of chainsaws. Workers feed logs into the company’s sawmill, while excavators dump loads of timber into the surrounding lumberyard, which stretches for hundreds of metres.
Source: Phnom Penh Post (23 February 2016)
 

Logs seized in Stung Treng
The recently created nationwide anti-logging commission seized 300 logs of illegal timber at a sawmill near a Vietnamese graveyard in Stung Treng province on Friday.
Source: Phnom Penh Post (15 February 2016)
 

Preah Vihear blaze razes timber
A blaze authorities have attributed to a forest fire ripped through a nearly 4,000-cubic-metre timber stockpile on a social land concession in Preah Vihear’s Kulen district on the weekend, although the company yesterday said it suspected a case of arson.
Source: Phnom Penh Post (29 February 2016)

Bribes alleged at Phnom Oral sanctuary
Government rangers, paid to protect the Phnom Oral Wildlife Sanctuary, allow loggers to process and transport illegally felled timber in exchange for bribes, an NGO alleged yesterday after conducting an undercover operation in the protected forest.
Source: Phnom Penh Post (11 February 2016)

Villagers opposed to new forest sanctuary
The Cambodian government has moved to protect a tract of land in Tbong Khmum province in a bid to preserve wildlife near the Vietnam border, but local villagers and the rights group Adhoc say the step will disenfranchise small-scale farmers.
Source: Phnom Penh Post (18 February 2016)

Vietnamese loggers charged; officers under investigation
The Mondolkiri Provincial Court has charged nine Vietnamese nationals with illicit use of chainsaws and illegally entering Cambodia after authorities arrested the group of would-be loggers on Wednesday, while authorities are investigating the soldiers and police who allegedly let them in.
Source: The Cambodia Daily (29 February 2016)

Prey Lang network calls for protections in logging crackdown
The Prey Lang Community Network has called on the government to include the protection of the sprawling Prey Lang forest in the remit of the recently established committee to crack down on illegal logging.
Source: Phnom Penh Post (9 February 2016)

Tonle Bassac dredging necessary, say officials
In order to aid waterway transport, sand-dredging – largely banned since a 2011 decree – will soon begin reappearing at dozens of locations along the Tonle Bassac river, a spokesman from the Ministry of Mines and Energy confirmed yesterday.
Source: Phnom Penh Post (24 February 2016)

Koh Kong sand dredging impact studies due
The Ministry of Mines and Energy plans to release the environmental impact assessments of two controversial sand-dredging companies in Koh Kong “soon”, ministry spokesman Meng Saktheara said on Monday
Source: Phnom Penh Post (17 February 2016)

Minister keen to shed fish and forests in decentralisation push
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Ouk Rabun on Monday asked Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng to formalise the transfer of forestry and fisheries duties from the ministry to provincial- and city-level departments.
Source: Phnom Penh Post (12 February 2016)

Agro sector on a growth path
The tonnage of Cambodia’s agricultural exports increased by over 20 per cent last year, led by a surge in shipments of dried cassava chips, according to the latest Ministry of Agriculture data.
Source: Phnom Penh Post (23 February 2016)

Expanding Pailin gem mine to be inspected
Environmental officials are scheduled to investigate a gem-mining site in Pailin province today, amid villager reports of an increase in large-scale extraction and alarming levels of pollution flowing into a river close to the mine.
Source: Phnom Penh Post (18 February 2016)

Aust company brings solar to Cambodia
Before dawn breaks, Houk Kymia and Wen Suen begin to make coffee they will later sell on the streets of Phnom Penh, all this aboard their "tuk tuk," a three-wheeled light delivery van which runs on solar energy and is helping them make a decent living.
Source: The Australian (26 February 2016)

Company provisionally charged over record ivory seizure
The Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court has laid provisional charges against the director of an import-export and freight-forwarding firm over his alleged role in smuggling more than 3,000 kg of elephant tusks into Cambodia in 2014—the largest haul of ivory ever seized in the country.
Source: The Cambodia Daily (29 February 2016)


Lao People's Democratic Republic
 

Laos dismisses reports of illegal ivory trade
Lao authorities have dismissed reports by Thai media, which allege companies in Laos have been smuggling elephant ivory through Thailand with the media citing the kingdom's authorities as seizing tusks.
Source: Vientiane Times (29 February 2016)

Meet the people determined to save the elephants of Laos
The elephant urinated in a fire-hose gush and his mahout (driver/keeper) cheered. ‘See?’ he said in Lao, pointing at the torrent of water darkening the red-earth road. ‘It’s clear!’
Source: Telegraph (20 February 2016)


Myanmar

Private sector could fill annul $2.5b gap in energy
The private sector could help cover a US$2.5 billion annual investment shortfall in Myanmar’s power sector and the government is urging international investors to help the country meet its electricity needs, an official has said.
Source: Myanmar Times (23 February 2016)
 

Coal power central to gov’t energy plans
Myanmar's energy sector will require investment of between US$30 billion and $40 billion over the next 15 to 20 years, and should focus on coal power, according to the government’s Energy Master Plan, published last month.
Source: Myanmar Times (8 February 2016)

Kachin state authorities continue illegal timber seizures, Myanmar Official says
Kachin state government authorities in northern Myanmar seized more than 20,000 metric tons (22,046 U.S. tons) of illegal timber near the country’s border with China over the last five years, a high-ranking forestry official said Thursday.
Source: Radio Free Asia (18 February 2016)
 

MOEP eyes to provide electricity to 230,000 more households by 2017
The Ministry of Electric Power (MOEP) said it will provide electricity to roughly 230,000 more households in the country by 2017.
Source: Myanmar Business Today (9 February 2016)

Community tourism begins to pay in Magwe
The men left to find work. The women stayed to create jobs. Community-based tourism is finally paying off in rural Magwe Region, says a local NGO official.
Source: Myanmar Times (10 February 2016)

Foreign firms’ future in Myanmar mining hangs on details
A new amendment has the potential to fundamentally alter the economics of mining in Myanmar and draw a new round of foreign companies to the country.
Source: Myanmar Times (17 February 2016)


People’s Republic of China

China drives water cooperation with Mekong countries
China is more closely involved in cross-border cooperation on hydropower and water management after the six countries that share the Mekong River signed a landmark agreement late last year.
Source: China Dialogue (1 February 2016)

How China’s economic downturn could delay promised CO2 peak
Advocates of big carbon cuts in China have had many reasons for optimism lately. Coal consumption and steel consumption are falling after a long period of overproduction. Hopes are high that carbon emissions will peak soon after an apparent high water mark in coal demand and industrial commodities.
Source: China Dialogue (26 February 2016)

China downplays energy efficiency gain
While China's economic growth continues to lag, the country is making greater gains in energy efficiency, at least according to official reports.
Source: Radio Free Asia (16 February 2016)

Interview: China’s environmental challenges
Judith Shapiro first became interested in China’s environment while teaching English in Hunan province in the late 1970s. It was here that she was inspired to write a book on Mao-era environmental degradation. 
Source: China Dialogue (9 February 2016)

Beijing raises 'red alert' threshold for air pollution warning
Beijing is to raise the thresholds for issuing its highest air pollution warnings, the state news agency Xinhua reported on Sunday, two months after acrid smog triggered the city’s first ever “red alert”.
Source: The Guardian (22 February 2016)

Beijing, 5 other cities to fight smog together
The national environmental authority has launched a new plan that targets Beijing, Tianjin and four neighboring cities with tough restrictions in an effort to curb severe smog in the northern region.
Source: China Daily (19 February 2016)
 

China struggles to implement swift ban on ivory trade
On January 13, in his New Year policy address, Hong Kong’s chief executive Leung Chun-ying announced a plan to ban ivory trade within the region.
Source: China Dialogue (4 February 2016)

Govt boosts new energy vehicle purchases
China is to increase to more than half the proportion of new energy vehicle purchases made by some government departments, the State Council said on Wednesday.
Source: China Daily (25 February 2016)

Yunnan park shores up security after wild elephant rampage
A large nature reserve in South China says safety measures are being taken to better prevent conflicts between wild elephants and visitors after an incident during Spring Festival.
Source: China Daily (26 February 2015)
 


Thailand

Thailand plans measures worth $285 million to help drought-hit rice farmers
Thailand, the world's second-biggest rice exporter, on Friday announced measures worth around $285 million to help farmers in the country who have been hit hard by a severe drought and low prices for their crop.
Source: Reuters (26 February 2016)
 

Drought may result in B62bn in damages
The farming sector could face damages totalling up to 62 billion baht if the drought lasts until June, says economist Witsanu Attavanich.
Source: Bangkok Post (3 February 2016)

Thung Yai shows way to end forest evictions
Plu Jibong has a burning question: Why must Karen forest dwellers in Kaeng Krachan National Park suffer violent eviction and forced resettlement when his Karen peers in Thung Yai-Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary can live in peace? 
Source: Bangkok Post (17 February 2016)

Ministry summons officials in Klong Dan inquiry 
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has summoned eight politicians and senior officials involved in scrapping the Klong Dan waste water treatment project for further investigation to determine whether they should foot the 9.8 billion baht compensation bill which the state must pay the construction company.
Source: Bangkok Post (17 February 2016)

Against the flow
Songkhram River is a little-known tributary of the Mekong River. Yet staying under the radar has turned out to be a blessing in disguise, for the placid 420km river has been left untouched from development projects such as dams and major construction.
Source: Bangkok Post (17 February 2016)

 
Viet Nam


Environmental protection fees for mining announced
The Government has issued a Decree on environmental protection fees for mining businesses.
Source: Vietnam Plus (23 February 2016)

Environment Ministry worried for mineral overexploitation in Delta
Plans to evaluate mineral reserves and marine natural resources and to help residents better adapt to climate change nationwide - especially in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta region, the area predicted to suffer the most from climate change – are high up on the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment's agenda this year.
Source: Vietnam News (15 February 2016)

Vietnam gears towards low-carbon economy
Vietnam is making all-out efforts to build a low-carbon economy towards green growth in order to realise the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Source: Vietnam Plus (12 February 2016)

Drought, saline intrusion prevention – urgent task
The Government considers the prevention of drought and saltwater intrusion its urgent task, said deputy head of the Government Office Nguyen Khac Dinh at the regular Cabinet press conference on February 29.
Source: Vietnam Plus (29 February 2016)

Saltwater threatens Mekong Delta
Saltwater is likely to intrude as far as 70km in the Tien and Hau rivers, the two main tributaries of the Mekong River in the Mekong Delta, the National Centre for Hydro-meteorological Forecasting said.
Source: Vietnam News (22 February 2016)

Mekong Delta sees worst drought in 90 years
Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has ordered relevant ministries and Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta provinces to prioritise the fight against drought and saltwater intrusion which have severely affected agriculture and fisheries and caused a crippling water shortage.
Source: Vietnam Net Bridge (19 February 2015)
 

More severe drought forecast this year in VN
The water shortage, drought and salt intrusion in the central region and the Central Highlands provinces this year is forecast to be more severe than last year.
Source: Vietnam News (15 February 2016)

Cold weather blamed for hampering afforestation effort
The Vietnam Forest Administration has blamed the recent severe cold weather for partly slowing afforestation progress during the first two months of 2016.
Source: Vietnam Plus (26 February 2016)

Vinh Tan power plant still polluting residential areas
Pollution caused by Vinh Tan Thermal Power Complex in southern Binh Thuan Province still persists despite local authorities' efforts to prevent cinders and ash from blowing into nearby residential areas.
Source: Vietnam News (1 February 2016)

Projects to provide thousands of households with electricity
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has approved 22 projects aiming to provide electricity to rural areas and islands this year.
Source: Nhan Dan (17 February 2016)

Accurate forest data to be integrated this year
Sixty provinces and cities are expected to complete the work of integrating adequate and accurate forest data by the end of 2016, the Viet Nam Administration of Forestry (VNFOREST) said.
Source: Vietnam News (17 February 2016)

1.3 billion USD for Mekong Delta water supply project
The interprovincial water supply system project across the Mekong Delta region will receive financial support of 1.3 billion USD, said Nguyen Tuong Van, deputy head of the Technical Infrastructure Department at the Ministry of Construction.
Source: Vietnam Plus (25 February 2016)

Binh Thuan to invest over 159 mln USD to build sea dykes
About 100 kilometres of sea embankment in the south central province of Binh Thuan will be built at an estimated capital of 3.5 trillion VND (159 million USD).
Source: Vietnam Plus (29 February 2016)

Pangolin education centre opens
The Viet Nam's first pangolin education centre officially opened on Saturday on the occasion of World Pangolin Day in Ninh Binh Province's Cuc Phuong National Park, the oldest in the country.
Source: Vietnam News (22 February 2016)

Agencies, companies active for environmental protection
The Vietnam Environment Administration (VEA) under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment with Coca-Cola Vietnam have agreed to jointly implement a green programme in Vietnam.
Source: Vietnam Plus (25 February 2016)

Tram Chim National Park deserves Ramsar title
Located in Tam Nong district of the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap, Tram Chim National Park boasts a rich biodiversity that turned it into the world’s 2000th Ramsar site in 2012.
Source: Vietnam Plus (11 February 2016)

More details

The Ninth Roundtable Discussion on Climate Change Adaptation in the GMS

2nd November 2015
Event

During the Ninth Roundtable meeting, partners reviewed draft chapters of the watershed and landscape-scale vulnerability and adaptation assessment guidelines, which will become a joint knowledge product produced by the partners.

More details
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