China, India And Myanmar Agree On Framework For Regional Cooperation For The Brahmaputra-Salween Tra


The representatives from governments of China, India and Myanmar, in collaboration with the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), developed a framework for regional cooperation for promoting conservation and sustainable development in the Brahmaputra-Salween Landscape (BSL), one of the most biodiversity rich areas in the world.

Shared by China, India and Myanmar, the landscape unit lies at the junction of three global biodiversity hotspots, and between two important river systems, the Brahmaputra and the Salween. It is one of the seven transboundary landscapes in the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region that are prioritized by ICIMOD and partners for regional-level conservation and development interventions. The landscape includes parts of Namdapha National Park and Tiger Reserve in India, parts of northern forest complex and six townships of Kachin state and Sagaing region in Myanmar, and Gaoligongshan region in Yunnan, China.

The ‘Regional Cooperation Framework’ was finalized at the meeting held in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar on 26-27 June 2014. The event was co-organized by ICIMOD and the Forest Department at the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry, Myanmar, and attended by 35 participants representing  government organizations and research institutions of the three countries.

In his opening remarks, His Excellency U Win Tun, Union Minister at the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry, said that the meeting was important for bringing representatives from the three countries together to discuss the ways and means for regional cooperation. “Such strategic partnerships are important not just for sustainable management of resources but also for resolving differences in understanding of issues. It is good that Myanmar is contributing to such a regional initiative, he said.

Deputy ministers for forests and environment, along with officials from other ministries and departments of the Myanmar government, were also present at the regional meeting. The outcome of the meeting will be crucial for implementing the Brahmaputra-Salween Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative (BSLCDI). According to Dr Eklabya Sharma, Director of Programme Operations at ICIMOD, the framework reflects the three countries’ desire to capitalize on regional experience and expertise, and is meant to strengthen regional efforts. He added, “As a regional knowledge centre, ICIMOD sees this cooperation as an opportunity to develop partnerships across boundaries for effective conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and other resources for the benefit of people in the landscape and beyond.”

The three BSL member countries looked positive about the regional learning from this initiative. Dr Dong Qi, Bureau of International Cooperation at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said, “The Chinese Academy of Sciences encourages the exchange programme for researchers and visiting scholars, and we look forward to working with Myanmar and India on transboundary biodiversity research and monitoring in the landscape.”

Dr P.P. Dhyani, Director of G.B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, an autonomous institute of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change in India, said that India is keen to cooperate in the management of the Brahmaputra-Salween Landscape, and is already collaborating with China, Nepal, and Bhutan in other transboundary landscapes such as Kailash and Kangchenjunga.

Similarly, Dr Nyi Nyi Kyaw, Director General of Forest Department and Member of ICIMOD’s Board of Governors, remarked that the regional framework will allow the countries to work together on “the issues that critically need transboundary cooperation.” He expressed his hope that the countries will be able to develop a concrete regional programme and make impacts on the ground.

U Win Naing Thaw, Director of Nature and Wildlife Conservation Division at the Forest Department, and the Focal Person for BSLCDI from Myanmar, said that the initiative will not only enable conservation and development institutions to work together, but will also benefit people in the three countries by widening their livelihoods opportunities.

The two-day consultation concretized the ‘Regional Framework for Cooperation’, along with the institutional coordination mechanisms within each country for ensuring effective implementation of regional and national level actions in the Landscape. The BSL member countries also agreed that regional actors like ICIMOD should continue to provide a platform for regional exchange and dialogue

The ‘Framework’ will now be processed for endorsement by the member countries. With the endorsement, it will form a key basis of cooperation between the three BSL member countries.