Tale i Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan 3. desember 2014

Your Majesties, Deputy Ministers, Chief Minister, Madam Ambassador, distinguished representatives from UNESCO and UNDP,

Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is a great pleasure to be here in Bagan. Bagan is truly among the most beautiful and unique places in Myanmar. The temples of Bagan are an essential part of Myanmar’s rich cultural heritage.

On my way to Bagan today, I was reflecting upon what the word “heritage” actually means: Heritage is that which is inherited from past generations, maintained in the present, and bestowed to future generations.

The unique heritage that Myanmar has to offer – cultural heritage and natural heritage – poses many opportunities. It attracts tourism, which we now see is increasing in large numbers. This again may spur social and economic development. However, in order to bestow to future generations, heritage must be preserved. Examples from other countries show that good management and conservation is crucial in order to benefit in the long term.

 

An important milestone was achieved in June, when Myanmar’s first cultural site was inscribed on the World Heritage List. I will take this opportunity to congratulate you upon the inscription of Puy Ancient Cities on the UNESCO list, and believe this demonstrates Myanmar’s strong commitment to the World Heritage Convention. I was also very pleased to learn that there is now a process underway to nominate Bagan as World Heritage. I wish you the best of luck with this important task.

Heritage is culture, but it is also nature. In terms of natural heritage, Myanmar is an unique biodiversity hotspot. In fact, one of the riches in Asia. Protection of your endemic species is of the greatest importance, not only to Myanmar, but to the world community as such.

Despite this immense richness, however, Myanmar does not yet have any natural heritage sites on the World Heritage List. I am very pleased that Norway supports Myanmar in the process towards natural heritage nomination, through a cooperation with UNESCO. Through the project “Safeguarding Natural heritage in Myanmar within the World Heritage List”, UNESCO will provide the necessary technical support to improve the management systems of seven selected sites. The agreement between Norway and UNESCO will be signed today.

 

During my previous visit to Myanmar, I had the pleasure of visiting Inle Lake. This is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. At Inle Lake natural and cultural heritage meet. Protecting such heritage is of crucial importance, as Minister U Win Tun stressed during his visit to Norway in 2012.

Inle Lake, however, faces several challenges, not the least from pollution and increased tourism. Norway has provided technical assistance to develop a long-term plan for restoration and conservation of Inle Lake. Through UNDP, we also support a number of activities with a view to raising environmental awareness in the communities that depend on the lake for their livelihoods. Introducing incentives for conservation, as well as mechanisms for sustainable tourism, will be crucial for the future of Inle Lake, as well as for other natural heritage sites in Myanmar.

 

I am proud to inform you that my Government, since 2013, has developed a very fruitful cooperation with the Union Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry. The cooperation has focused on conservation of biodiversity and management of protected areas, natural heritage and integrated water resources management. Recently, management of hazardous waste has also been included. In all these areas, cooperation with civil society is also given high priority.

 

At the United Nation’s Summit in New York in September, your honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs stressed the importance of integrating environmental considerations into the economic development planning process. I believe this is crucial, and the only way to safeguard natural heritage for the benefit of present and future generations. And it is a prerequisite to create green growth.

The opening of the Center of Excellence for Greening/the ASEAN Institute of Green Productivity in Yangon yesterday, clearly demonstrates the commitment of the Government of Myanmar to promote  green growth, in Myanmar as well as in the region.

I look forward to the continued fruitful cooperation between Norway and Myanmar on environmental management and world heritage. You can rest assured that Norway will remain committed to supporting Myanmar on this important agenda.

Thank you.