Can Yangon Air Quality Be ‘Built Back Better’?
On 13 June, MCRB sponsored local youth environmental campaigners Air Quality Yangon to hold a Burmese-language webinar on the causes and consequences of poor air quality in Yangon.
Air Quality Yangon publish daily Yangon air quality indexes using data drawn from nine monitors, one of which is at MCRB’s office. During the COVID-19 lockdown in April, despite greatly reduced traffic and industry, air quality remained poor due to extensive burning in the Yangon area of waste and agricultural residues. On 28 April, Vicky Bowman, MCRB Director and Matthew Baird, MCRB Honorary Research Fellow, took part in an English-language online Green Drinks Yangon talk on the same subject.
The 13 June webinar in Burmese (English subtitles to follow) can be watched here.
The panel included Myanmar health and environmental experts, who highlighted the connection between poor health outcomes from COVID, and air quality. Speakers included Dr. Ohnmar May Tin Hlaing, a medical doctor trained in toxicology, who was active in air pollution monitoring with the Department of Medical Research (Lower Myanmar) before establishing an EIA consultancy, EQM; Dr. Ther Wint Aung, national finalist in the 2020 ASEAN-US Science Prize for Women, who has conducted research on air quality in India and Myanmar; Dr. Zarni Win who is active in health education, including for children and through social media; and Dr Nyan Phone Myint who works in public health, including in a volunteer Call Center for Covid 19 Information.
Dr Ohnmar May Tin Hlaing discussed the environmental laws applicable to business on emissions, waste, and how compliance with these should help to reduce air pollution. MCRB is encouraging companies to consider what else they can do include raising environmental and health awareness of their employees, and encouraging them to adopt good practices at home and in the office such as waste reduction, separation and recycling and home composting. Myanmar start-ups such as Bokashi Myanmar and Recyglo can support companies on this and provide training and services.
On 5 June, World Environment Day, Senior Programme Associate Win Min participated in a Burmese language panel discussion hosted by UNDP Myanmar, Ooredoo, Wildlife Conservation Society and Innovation Hub which discussed linkages between biodiversity, environment, education, climate change and COVID19 in Myanmar, and how the COVID-19 crisis can be turned into an opportunity for strengthening both our relationship with nature and determination to address pressing environmental challenges.
Other participants included Kyaw Thinn Latt, Deputy Country Program Director (Ayeyarwady & Southern Scapes), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS Myanmar), Paing Soe, Senior Conservation Biologist, World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF), Khin Seint Seint Aye, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Emily De, National Programme Officer for Education, Education for Sustainability Programme, UNESCO and Kyaw Zin Hted, Team Innovatory (The 2019 Hackathon Winner of Climate Change).
Win Min will participate in a Yangon Climate Talk on 22 June on responsible travel and climate change. On 25 June, Win Min will moderate a panel discussion on Green Politics in Myanmar featuring Matthew Baird and Win Myo Thu of Alarm as part of the Institut Francais’ Environment Month. Matthew Baird will participate in a webinar on 24 June organised by the International Association of Impact Assessments (IAIA) on Compliance and Enforcement of Impact Assessment (EsIA) Requirements, Commitments and Related Permit Conditions.