November 1, 2019

For Myanmar, connecting livelihoods and forest conservation is key to achieving zero net deforestation by 2030. This was one of the key messages from Myanmar to the world from the Climate Summit in New York. Speaking on the sidelines of the Summit, Myanmar’s Minister for Natural Resource and Environmental Conservation, U Ohn Winn, called on its international development partners to support the Government of Myanmar achieve its ambitious goal to achieve zero net deforestation.

Over the next decade, Myanmar aims to restore over 600,000 hectares of degraded forest through natural regeneration and enrichment planting, as well as the reforestation of another 600,000 hectares of bare land. This initiative also complements Myanmar’s new UN REDD+ Strategy, which will become a core component of its updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and support the goal of achieving zero net deforestation by 2030.


Having signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on 11 June 1992 and ratified the convention on 25 November 1994 and the Kyoto Protocol in 2003 as a non-Annex 1 party, Myanmar is fully aware of the causes and potential impacts of climate change. Hence, whilst undertaking political reform and aiming at rapid economic development, Myanmar is striving to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The government has recognized the potential of the REDD+ initiative to contribute to green development by protecting global environmental resources and helping reverse land degradation, improve the livelihoods of the rural poor and their capacity to adapt to climate change.

In the past few years, significant milestones have been achieved in strengthening Myanmar’s ability to prevent and respond to disaster risks and the impacts of climate change, sustainably manage natural resources and promote inclusive economic growth. With technical support from UNDP, Myanmar launched a new National Environmental Policy in 2019 and integrated environmental conservation throughout the Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan.

Myanmar’s message was loud and clear at the Summit: protecting forests offers the country one of the most powerful, nature-based, and cost-effective tools to addressing the shared global challenge of climate change, while protecting wildlife and critical watersheds, and preserving indigenous cultures and heritage.

Myanmar has over 42 percent forest cover, equivalent to some 29 million hectares. About 70% of Myanmar’s population live in rural areas and depend on forests for their basic needs and livelihoods. Myanmar is one of the world’s three most vulnerable countries to climate change. 

At the Summit, U Ohn Winn particularly underscored that Myanmar would continue to prioritize sustainable forest management, as it is essential to protect against Myanmar’s vulnerability to landslides, flooding and storm surges.

In the forestry sector, Myanmar has been working on restoring degraded and sensitive forest areas through community based reforestation and enhancing rural livelihoods in degraded watershed areas, coastal areas and northern hilly regions. UNDP, in partnership with Wildlife Conservation Society and with funding from GEF, is also implementing a project, “Sustainability of protected area management in Myanmar”, which aims to strengthen the terrestrial system of national protected areas for biodiversity conservation through enhanced representation, management effectiveness, monitoring, enforcement and financing.

These initiatives are expected to restore, conserve and even expand forests and protected areas so that the rich diversity of flora and fauna, including some of the critically endangered species, could be protected.

A recent study, involving Wildlife Conservation Society, identified 331 endangered species in Myanmar, with illegal trade, poaching and habitat loss as significant problems that need to be addressed.

While some highly significant progress has been made in the areas of biodiversity conservation and building resilience, as Minister U Ohn Winn said during his deliberations on the sidelines of Climate Summit, to continue scaling up its adaptation efforts, Myanmar would need international support to help achieve its “vision of a sustainable and resilient future”.

Photo: Martin Cosier

UNDP, a close partner supporting the Government of Myanmar in its pursuit of resilient and sustainable development, supported the participation of Myanmar in the Climate Summit in New York [read more about UNDP's ongoing support to the Government of Myanmar in the areas of resilience and sustainability]. The support was part of the UNDP-UN Environment Poverty-Environment Action for Sustainable Development Goals joint initiative in Myanmar. 

Note: This photo story was originally published in the Exposure