GMS Environment Update - Issue 13

Click here for our e-news featuring the latest environment updates from the GMS Core Environment Program, ADB, the environment ministries of the six GMS countries, and WWF's Greater Mekong Programme.

Publish Date: 3rd March 2017

See more content: Publication GMS General

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GMS Environment Update - Issue 4

10th July 2015

Welcome to the GMS Environment Update-Issue 4. It is a compilation of recent environment news and articles from the GMS Core Environment Program, the Asian Development Bank, and the governments of the six GMS countries.

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GMS Environment Media Roundup–August 2015

7th September 2015

Greater Mekong Subregion

Large dams are not the answer to climate change in the Mekong Region
Some may say it is too early to conclude that the changing weather patterns in the Mekong region – be it a longer dry season, unexpected river water level fluctuation, or cold days in early summer – are a result of climate change. Even if we could summarize the large number of expert debates and long list of research papers, it’s unlikely that a clear answer to the simple question “Is climate change happening in the Mekong?” would emerge.
Source: Mekong Commons (August 27, 2015)
Thailand’s Mekong water-diversion plan raises concerns
The Thai government’s statement in late July that it is considering bringing water from the Mekong, Moei and Salween rivers to farmland to nine of its provinces has raised major concerns.
Source: VietNamNet Bridge (August 19, 2015)
Vietnamese plea to Thailand: Don't divert the Mekong
People in Vietnam hope Thailand will reconsider its plan to divert water from the Mekong - because it would seriously affect their ability to produce food.
Source: The Nation (August 17, 2015)
Lower Sesan 2: Construction resumed, troubles restarted
Thousands of workers, mostly Chinese, are hustling working on the Lower Sesan 2 (LS2) dam site in Northeast Cambodia, and nearly 40% of their work is complete. The US$816 million project was approved by Cambodia’s Council of Ministers in 2012. However, in November 2014, the dam construction was stopped due to environmental controversy and opposition from communities and some NGOs, but has been re-started since March 2015. And, as construction has resumed, the communities concerns have been reprised and the trouble has restarted.
Source: Mekong Commons (August 23, 2015)
Dams 'destroying Mekong fish stock'
Mekong River fishermen have already suffered dramatically from dams and irrigation works, which have decimated fish stocks and undermined livelihoods that supported families for generations.
Source: The Nation (August 24, 2015)
People power 'needed to sustain forests'
Asia has a unique opportunity to fight climate change and lift many more people out of poverty if it invests more in the communities living in its forests, experts said.
Source: The Nation (August 30, 2015)
Environment still in jeopardy as ASEAN works toward change
Despite more than 40 years of environmental management in the ASEAN region, degradation of the environment continues, affecting the most vulnerable populations, a senior policy advisor for the Institute for Global Environment Strategies said yesterday at a climate-change forum held in Vientiane, Laos.
Source: Viet Nam News (August 4, 2015)

IEA signs deal for largest Asean wind farm in south Laos
Thai renewable company Impact Energy Asia (IEA) plans to build the largest wind farm in Asean - and generate 600 megawatts on 400,000 rai in southern Laos - under an agreement signed by the Lao government and the company on Friday.
Source: The Nation (August 9, 2015)
Silk Road trade route to be revived
Nanning, Guangxi: China is stepping up efforts to boost its economy following the yuan's sharp fall by reviving its maritime Silk Road trading route with Southeast Asia.
Source: Bangkok Post (August 24, 2015)
Japan charts road to industrialization for Mekong region
Japan and the five Southeast Asian countries bordering the Mekong River adopted a blueprint Monday to boost industrialization in the subregion.
Source: Japan Times (August 24, 2015)
Myanmar seeks over $100m for Asean connectivity project
Myanmar's Construction Ministry is seeking the parliamentary approval for a US$120 million loan to upgrade the Kawkareik-Mawlamyine-Thaton Road, a part of the Greater Mekong East-West Economic Corridor.
Source: The Nation (August 20, 2015)

Thailand to restore rail link with Cambodia 
Thailand is hoping to resurrect a rail link with Cambodia to improve transport in the Mekong sub-region, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Thursday.
Source: Bangkok Post (August 27, 2015)

Construction begins on second Thai-Myanmar bridge
A groundbreaking ceremony was held Sunday for the second Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge that will play a key role in the East-West Economic Corridor traversing continental Southeast Asia.
Source: Bangkok Post (August 31, 2015)
AEC unfinished with four months until launch
Preparations for the establishment of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) remain incomplete at a time when there is only four months left before its implementation.
Source: Eleven Myanmar (August 2, 2015)


Industrial concessions causing massive deforestation in Cambodia
Land concessions for large-scale agricultural plantations are stripping off Cambodia’s forest cover, according to a new report by Forest Trends, a U.S.-based environmental protection group.
Source: Mongabay (August 26, 2015)
(Un) protected Areas
 Preah Kay sped easily over the rutted dirt path winding through the thick brush of the forest, whipping his beat-up Honda Dream around muddy puddles like a motocross driver and ducking under head-high branches.
Source: The Cambodia Daily (August 1, 2015)
Report slams logging in northeast
National parks and other protected areas are being gutted at a rapid rate in Stung Treng and Ratanakkiri by private business interests, among them the powerful Try Pheap Group, a report launched yesterday claims, though authorities have disputed certain figures.
Source: Phnom Penh Post (August 27, 2015)
More than 2,000 forest crimes observed: group  
The Prey Lang Community Network yesterday reported uncovering more than 2,000 cases of forestry crime so far this year in Prey Lang forest, where they say corrupt elites are decimating protected reserves with impunity.
Source: Phnom Penh Post (August 25, 2015)
ELCs to be taken from firms that break rules
Companies that transfer their land holdings to another firm in violation of government policy will have their concessions stripped from them, the Agriculture Ministry has said.
Source: Phnom Penh Post (August 31, 2015)
Gov’t cuts leases of 12 ELCs
The government yesterday slashed the lifespans of 12 economic land concessions (ELC) – by half in some cases – as it continued to implement a new policy capping ELC leases at 50 years.
Source: Phnom Penh Post (August 27, 2015)
Drought affects 185,451 hectares of paddy fields in Cambodia
According to the report sent to the Prime Minister, about 9,240 hectares of paddy fields have been completely damaged. It noted that around 2.12 million hectares of rice fields, or about 82.7% of the total rice acreage of about 2.57 million hectare in the country. Planting usually begins in May, but it has been delayed due to early-season drought which led to lack of water in reservoirs.
Source: Oryza (August 31, 2015)
Cambodian dam proceeds despite opposition over fish, ousted villagers
The Cambodian government has begun relocating some 5,000 villagers away from the flood site of the Lower Sesan 2 dam. Having already suffered flooding, reduced fisheries, and other problems resulting from existing upstream dams, communities within the watershed area oppose the new dam and many have refused to relocate.
Source: Mongabay (August 17, 2015)
Cambodia dam’s benefits exclude people in its vicinity
The construction of the Kamchay Dam in Cambodia, though beneficial to urban areas, has not been so good for those who live close to the dam site in Kampot province, according to a study.
Source: SciDev.Net (August 19, 2015)
Conservation activists arrested in Koh Kong
Three environmental activists affiliated with local NGO Mother Nature were arrested in Koh Kong province yesterday morning after refusing to appear for questioning over their alleged involvement in protests against a Vietnamese corporation engaged in sand dredging.
Source: Phnom Penh Post (August 18, 2015)

People’s Republic of China
China's poverty target thwarted by climate change challenges
China's 11 major extremely poverty-stricken areas have fallen victim to both a vulnerable ecology and a sensitive climate, damping China's efforts to fight against poverty, according to the "Climate Change and Accurate Poverty Alleviation" Report issued by Oxfam Thursday.
Source: (August 20, 2015)
China's greenhouse gas emissions 'overestimated'
The United Nations and other international bodies have vastly overestimated China's greenhouse gas emissions over the past decade or more, according to a study released on Wednesday.
Source: China Daily (August 21, 2015)
9.4 trillion yuan pledged to fight water, air pollution
The Chinese government is accelerating investment in environmental protection, with the total investment into the protection of water, air and soil soon totaling 9.4 trillion yuan ($1.37 trillion), the Securities Daily calculated.
Source: China Daily (August 13, 2015)
China passes law to control air pollution
China's top legislature on Saturday adopted an amendment to the Air Pollution Control Law that will restrict various sources of smog and make information on environmental cleanliness more readily available to the public.
Source: Xinhua (August 29, 2015)
China cleans up environmental assessment procedures
The Ministry of Environmental Protection has started to clean up its assessment procedures in an effort to stop new businesses being built that would cause pollution.
Source: China Daily (August 8, 2015)
China builds huge solar power station which could power a million homes
China is set to build a giant solar power station in the Gobi desert, which could generate enough energy to supply one million homes.
Source: The Independent (August 8, 2015)
Endangered wildlife needs protection
China will take action to protect wild animals in the face of wildlife habitat fragmentation, environmental pollution and poor management, experts said.
Source: China. org. cn (August 19, 2015)
Beijing phases out old vehicles
Beijing has phased out more than 217,000 vehicles with excessive exhaust emissions in the first seven months of the year, reaching the annual target five months ahead, the municipal environmental protection said on Monday.
Source: China Daily (August 11, 2015)


Lao loggers backed by corrupt officials pillaged Champassak forests in July
Illegal logging in southern Laos’ Champassak province was particularly devastating on forests in July, according to a local police officer, who said businessmen working in tandem with high-ranking officials raced to cut timber in the region ahead of the start of the rainy season.
Source: Radio Free Asia (August 20, 2015)
A green, liveable Vientiane for the next 15 years
Vientiane authorities are aiming to develop the country's capital into a political centre with a democratic political system from city to village level, and an engine of economic growth that supports the provinces.
Source: The Nation (August 26, 2015)
Tourism symposium highlights AEC integration preparations
Lanith (Lao National Institute of Tourism and Hospitality) in cooperation with Lao-German Development Cooperation (GIZ) on Friday held the 16th Lanith symposium highlighting the Lao tourism sector's countdown up to the AEC establishment.
Source: The Nation (August 1, 2015)


Myanmar counts cost of flood disaster
Recent monsoonal floods and landslides have taken a dreadful human toll, leaving at least 117 dead and 1.6 million people displaced, in 12 states and regions across Myanmar.
Source: Bangkok Post (August 28, 2015)

Flood damage to crops raises fears of food crisis in Myanmar
Floods caused by heavy rainfall have inundated 1 million acres of cropland across Myanmar, a majority of them paddy fields, leading the country’s rice traders to call for a halt in rice exports over fears of a rise in food prices, as authorities struggle to respond to the worst natural disaster since Cyclone Nargis in 2008.
Source: Myanmar Now (August 5, 2015)

Asian Development Bank offers aid for Myanmar's flood relief
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will extend a 3- million-U.S. dollar aid for Myanmar's flood relief efforts, an official report said Thursday.
Source: Xinhua (August 27, 2015)
Myanmar incurs wrath of civic groups as hydropower solutions remain its main priority
Myanmar’s Electric Power Ministry will go ahead with hydropower projects, the Minister for Electric Power, Industry, Science and Technology said last week amid reports of local resistance.
Source: The Nation (August 24, 2015)
Illegal logging, corruption and state’s projects causing deforestation
Illegal logging, corruption and state’s projects left Myanmar with 10 percent of forestry areas for the whole country, the chairman of the Myanmar Cane and Bamboo Producers Association (MCBPA) said on August 26 at a workshop on forestry in Yangon.
Source: Eleven Myanmar (August 27, 2015)
Lost forests and wandering wild elephants
Environmental degradation poses a real threat to wildlife. All beings—humans and animals alike—are suffering consequences of deforestation and shortages of natural habitat.
Source: Eleven Myanmar (August 27, 2015)
Protesters condemn logger amnesty
The Movement for Democracy Current Force (MDCF) has protested in front of Insein Prison on August 7 against the amnesty given to Chinese loggers who were originally sentenced to life imprisonment by Myitkyina district court.
Source: Eleven Myanmar (August 7, 2015)
Parliament approves more than $300m in soft loans
The Pyidaungsu Hluttaw on August 26 gave the green light to US$305 million in new development loans focused on improving electricity supply, water supply and a major highway.
Source: Myanmar Times (August 28, 2015)
Foreign investments amount to USD 16.96 bln during the current govt’s term
The total inflow of foreign investments in the country has amounted to USD16.96 billion since the current government took office, Aung Naing Oo, secretary of Myanmar Investment Commission said.
Source: Eleven Myanmar (August 30, 2015)
Oil and gas tops investment list
Between April and July there have been massive inflows of foreign investment into the oil, gas and manufacturing sectors, according to the Directorate of Investment and Companies Administration.
Source: Eleven Myanmar (August 15, 2015)


Thailand's power dilemma amid a climate of fear
In its push for coal-fired mega-projects, the government risks turning its back on sufficiency-economy thinking and the need for 'clean' energy.
Source: The Nation (August 27, 2015)
Toxins from coal-fired stations can be treated, say academics
Potential pollutant releases from coal-fired power plants can be treated and prevented, engineering lecturers from Chulalongkorn University said yesterday.
Source: The Nation (August 18, 2015)
Power plant to fulfil dream to be 'energy city'
The Southern province of Songkhla - an "energy city" already earning Bt100 billion from its gas separation facility, power plants and oil rig sites - could also have potential for a coal-fired power plant, said Niphon Bunyamanee, president of the Songkhla Provincial Administration Organisation.
Source: The Nation (August 3, 2015)
Society opposes Communal Forest bill
The People's Movement for a Just Society has protested against the proposed Communal Forest bill, saying it would render forest communities impotent by handing the government compete control of forest management and result in the communities being dismantled.
Source: The Nation (August 4, 2015)

Govt 'will have to pay Bt9.6 bn for Klong Dan'
The government will have to pay more than Bt9.6 billion in compensation to a consortium over the corruption-plagued Klong Dan wastewater-treatment plant, which has been cancelled, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha confirmed yesterday.
Source: The Nation (August 8, 2015)
Locals fight waste-management project
Residents in Phitsanulok province launched a protest yesterday against the construction of two waste-management plants, saying not only would they contaminate the environment, they were also being built on a historic temple site.
Source: The Nation (August 18, 2015)
Thailand wins guarded praise for destroying ivory stockpile
Wildlife officials in Thailand destroyed more than two tonnes of confiscated ivory worth around $3 million on Wednesday in what one rights group called a milestone in the fight against the illegal trade.
Source: Reuters (August 26, 2015)
Arkhom to kick-start 17 megaprojects
Newly-appointed Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith has vowed to kick-start the construction of 17 megaprojects valued at 1.6 trillion baht before the end of next year as part of a plan to stimulate the economy.
Source: Bangkok Post (August 27, 2015)

Viet Nam

Vietnam ready to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
To cope with the consequences of climate change including high temperatures, rising sea levels, increases in natural disasters, landscape changes and economic damages, Vietnam has joined hands with the international community to protect and develop forests through an initiative to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation while fostering conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+).
Source: Viet Nam Net (August 12, 2015)
Works start on Vietnam’s first solar power plant
The construction of a multimillion-dollar solar power plant, the first of its kind in Vietnam, kicked off during a groundbreaking ceremony in the central province of Quang Ngai on Saturday.
Source: Tuoi Tre News (August 31, 2015)
Alarm grows at illegal logging
A Lao Dong (Labour) report yesterday (August 10) that hundreds of hectares of pine forest in Dak Doa and Mang Yang districts had been cleared to plant crops.
Source: Viet Nam Net (August 31, 2015)

Vietnam focuses on coastal eco-system, mangrove forest protection
The safeguard of coastal eco-system and mangrove forest in the Mekong Delta region will be given a push as phase two of the Integrated Coastal Management Programme (ICMP) recently kicked off in An Giang province.
Source: Viet Nam Net (August 31, 2015)
Mekong Delta's largest waste water facility opens
A new waste water treatment plant, the largest of its kind in the Mekong Delta, was put into operation on Saturday in Tra Noc Industrial Park in Can Tho.
Source: Viet Nam News (August 10, 2015)
Quang Ngai to build $5.2m medical waste treatment area
The central Quang Ngai Province has become the first locality to receive more than VND120 billion (US$ 5.28 million), funded by the World Bank, to build a facility for medical waste treatment.
Source: Viet Nam Net (August 27, 2015)
Can Gio conserves mangrove forests
The conservation and regeneration of mangrove forests in HCM City's coastal Can Gio District have been successfully accomplished since 2000, when the local administration took over the task, a district official told Viet Nam News on Saturday.
Source: Viet Nam News (August 31, 2015)
Eight tonnes of smuggled wildlife products seized
Nearly eight tonnes of smuggled ivory, rhino horns and pangolin scales were discovered after a two-week investigation, deputy head of the central region's anti-smuggling team Pham Van Thien said today.
Source: Viet Nam News (August 28, 2015)
Coal mine threat to Quang Ninh
Experts at a seminar here yesterday issued warnings about the uncontrolled exploitation of coal in Quang Ninh Province.
Source: Viet Nam News (August 12, 2015)

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