Myanmar’s development challenges

Welcome to participate in the discussion on Myanmar’s development challenges!

Time: Tuesday 30.9.2014 (seminar 9 am-1:30 pm, workshop 2:30 pm-5 pm)
Venue: Eurooppasali, Voimatalo, Malminkatu 16, Helsinki
Registration: Separately by email for both parts of the day, please see details under the programme

Myanmar (previously Burma) has opened up rapidly from a closed military dictatorship to a country of investment, trade, tourism and aid opportunities. Despite rapid changes, most of the estimated 51 million people still live in rural areas with rather simple living conditions. Years of civil wars have left many border areas uninhabited and hundreds of thousands have escaped the country as refugees. Peace is not yet assured in all regions of Myanmar. The country can thus be considered as a fragile state.

The Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) is now preparing the Myanmar country strategy for the Finnish development cooperation. Many other donor countries and the EU have already poured aid support in Myanmar. How to work in a fragile state, which now faces increasing and conflicting interests coming from different directions? Why Finland should get involved, and how Finland’s official development assistance (ODA) plans relate to those of other EU countries? Is the prevalent development model needed or desirable in Myanmar? Are there possibilities for a good living without building another consumerist society?

Abilis Foundation, Siemenpuu Foundation, Finnish Disabled People’s International Development Association (FIDIDA), Finn Church Aid, Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission (FELM), Finnish Refugee Council (FRC) and Kepa are together organizing the day on Myanmar’s development challenges.

The day of consists of a 4.5-hr seminar and a 2.5-hr workshop. The seminar (9 am-1:30 pm) is open for all interested people, including NGOs, civil servants, academics, media and general public. Short presentations on different issues give food for thought for the panel discussion on the Finnish ODA’s role and civil society actors’ work in Myanmar.

The afternoon workshop (2:30-5 pm) is mostly for NGOs/CSOs for sharing knowledge and experiences on Myanmar and discussing possible joint strategies for the Finnish civil society actors working in Myanmar.

Seminar programme:

8:30 Registration, tea and coffee

9:00-9:15 Welcome words by Ms Terhi Ylikoski, Kepa

Opening remarks: Fragile states and Finnish development cooperation; why Finland is increasing its ODA to Myanmar?
Mr Pekka Haavisto, Minister for International Development

9:15-9:30 What should Finnish and European actors take into account in acting in a “fragile state”
Mr Witoon Permpongsacharoen, Director of Mekong Energy and Ecology Network (MEE Net, Thailand)

9:30-9:45 How does it feel to follow Myanmar’s development from Finland? Are refugees planning to return to Myanmar?
Mr Aung Nyein Chan, Coordinator of Burmese people living in Finland

9:45-10:00 Operating environment of local CSOs, especially environmental NGOs, in today’s Myanmar
Mr Kyi Phyo, Myanmar coordinator of MEE Net

10:00-10:15 Flow of Chinese investments into Myanmar, emphasis on energy sector
Ms Yu Yin, Independent researcher (Yunnan, China)

10:15-10:30 Role of Asian Development Bank and other financial institutions in Myanmar
Mr Pieter Jansen, BothENDS (Netherlands)

10:30-10:45 Questions and Answers / Discussion on the morning’s topics

10:45-11:15 Break: coffee/tea and sandwich/salty snacks

11:15-11:30 Challenges faced by the INGOs working in Myanmar, especially on refugee and internally displaced persons issues
Mr Massimo Lanciotti, FRC

11:30-11:45 Finnish peace work in Myanmar
Mr Timo Stewart, FELM

11:45-12:00 How to include vulnerable groups such as people with disabilities into development programmes?
Ms Mari Koistinen, Fidida and Ms Rea Konttinen, Abilis Foundation

12:00-13:30 Panel discussion: Why should Finnish government and Finnish CSOs get involved in Myanmar, and how? Is there EU donor coordination, or are various business interests driving the “development”? Is pushing the prevalent development paradigm desirable considering the limits of the Earth? Panelists: MFA representative (tbc), Kyi Phyo (MEE Net), Pieter Jansen (BothENDS), Massimo Lanciotti (FRC) and Aung Nyein Chan. Moderator: Mr Otto Bruun (Siemenpuu Foundation)

Please register your participation by Fri 26 Sep by email to: liisa.uimonen (at)
(please inform whether you will participate only in the seminar or also in the workshop)

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