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This chapter presents an overview of civil society research on Salween, providing an overview of the existing knowledge of the basin and a start to identifying key knowledge gaps in support of more informed, inclusive, and accountable water governance in the basin.
The authors, the majority of whom identify as members of “civil society,” recognize that civil society is not a homogenous entity and that there are many different actors and interests in this sphere. For instance, there are qualitative differences and distinct goals among different civil society actors, from locally embedded organizations, sometimes having no formal organizational structure, as well as locally embedded CSOs, as contrasted with typically larger and more formally organized and at times professionalized NGOs or international NGOs. We also recognize that there is a complicated trustee relationship between NGO and community which has been critiqued in academic work.
One of the motivations for this “State of Knowledge” chapter stems from the persistence in academic work, particularly recent work on Myanmar, that appears dismissive of so-called ‘civil society’ or ‘activist’ work. While the authors do not believe that there is necessarily a clear, hard line to divide academic and activist scholarship—both rely in many instances on first-person accounts of environmental change and dispossession—we do hope that presenting this overview will provoke ideas for improved collaboration that includes researchers within the basin, rather than solely on consultant-led knowledge production that is many times instrumentalized for particular development interests.
Karen State is also known as Kayin State. The latter name was designated by the Myanmar military Government in 1989.
The 2017 SEA of the Myanmar Hydropower Sector Final Report, p. 37, fn 31, notes that these two projects are now cancelled.
The Asia Times (11 Feb 2018) reports that the Myanmar government has asked that the project be “split in two”.
Work to see enforcement of this 2016 Cabinet Resolution is ongoing (Suk 2017).
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China Three Gorges. (2018 February). Letter to the Electricity and Energy Ministry.
Committee of Researchers of the Salween Sgaw Karen. (2005). Thai Baan research in the Salween River: Villager’s research by the Thai-Karen Communities (in Thai with English summary). [Documentary film]. Published and produced by SEARIN, Chiang Mai, Thailand. Retrieved from: http://www.livingriversiam.org/4river-tran/4sw/swd_vdo2-tb-research.html.
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Deetes, P. (2017, May 22). Investments should recognise local rights. Bangkok Post. Retrieved from: https://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/1253930/investments-should-recognise-local-rights.
EarthRights International (ERI). (May 2018). ERI Briefer. The Hatgyi Dam: A case of Thai investment in Myanmar: Adverse impacts to Salween communities and key recommendations. Retrieved from: https://earthrights.org/wp-content/uploads/HatgyiBriefer.pdf.
Green Watershed. (2017). River Free Running, Community Flourishing [Film]. Retrieved from Salween Stories website: https://www.salweenstories.org/nujiang/.
Htoo, T. (2016, January 15). New environmental impact rules released. Myanmar Times. Retrieved from: http://www.mmtimes.com/index.php/business/18490-new-environmental-impact-rules-released.html.
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Jing, L. (2016, March 14). China’s Grand Canyon: no more small hydropower plants for country’s last wild river in scenic Yunnan. South China Morning Post. Retrieved from: https://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/1925053/chinas-grand-canyon-no-more-small-hydropower-plants.
Johnston, R., McCartney, M., Liu, S., Ketelsen, T., Taylker, L., Vinh, M.K., Ko Ko Gyi, M., Aung Khin, T., Ma Ma Gyi, Khin. (2017). State of knowledge: River health in the Salween. Vientiane, Lao PDR: CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems. Retrieved from: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/82969.
Karen Rivers Watch. (2004). Damming at gunpoint: Burma army atrocities pave the way for Salween dams in Karen State. Retrieved from: http://www.burmariversnetwork.org/images/stories/publications/english/dammingatgunpointenglish.pdf.
KDRF (Karenni Development Research Group). (2006). Dammed by Burma’s generals: The Karenni experience with hydropower development from Lawpita to the Salween. Retrieved from: https://www.internationalrivers.org/files/attached-files/proposed_salween_dams_revive_development_nightmare_for_karenni_in_burma.pdf.
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KESAN (Karen Environmental and Social Action Network). (2017). Salween Peace Park: A vision for an indigenous Karen landscape of human-nature harmony in southeast Myanmar. Retrieved from: http://kesan.asia/index.php/programs/salween-peace-park-initiative/93-salween-peace-park-a-vision-for-an-indigenous-karen-landscape-of-human-nature-harmony-in-southeast-myanmar.
KESAN (Karen Environmental and Social Action Network). (2018). Community based water governance: A briefing report on Daw Lar Lake. Yangon, Myanmar: KESAN. Forthcoming.
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- A State of Knowledge of the Salween River: An Overview of Civil Society Research
Saw John Bright
Saw Tha Phoe
Naw Aye Aye Myaing
Nang Hom Kham
Sai Aum Khay
Nang Sam Paung Hom
Nang Aye Tin