The proposal for a Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Group (MSAG) to advise on the implementation of the Thilawa SEZ Phase 1 project and, in particular, the resettlement program was put forward as a direct outcome of the Investigation Report by the Examiner for JICA Guidelines for Environmental and Social Considerations (November 2014), and in response to recommendations from the external monitoring and evaluation conducted for the Phase 1 resettlement program. It was also in response to civil society interest and concerns about the resettlement program and Government of Myanmar (GoM) recognition that broader stakeholder engagement would assist in resolving some ongoing challenges.
The MSAG’s objectives were to:
- Create a broad dialogue between relevant key stakeholders of the Thilawa SEZ Phase 1 project with the intention to improve policies, priorities and processes that govern the Project and ensure the success of the SEZ and benefits to affected communities.
- Identify and assess potential issues, concerns and complaints from Project Affected Persons (PAPs) with the implementation of the resettlement program and recommend corrective measures or other actions required to resolve such issues, concerns or complaints.
- Bring to the attention of the relevant implementing agencies and authorities any issues, concerns and complaints that PAPs and other stakeholders have regarding the Thilawa Phase 1 project.
- Monitor implementation of resettlement and income restoration activities to ensure they fulfill the obligations set out by relevant Myanmar and international commitments.
- Promote and facilitate improved outcomes for PAPs of Thilawa Phase 1 resettlement program including by encouraging good international practice in resettlement and income restoration activities.
- Promote good international practice in stakeholder engagement including disseminating information to generate a better understanding of Thilawa SEZ Phase 1 project and reduce the risk of conflict and misunderstandings.
- Identify lessons learned from Thilawa Phase 1 project to inform planning and implementation of the Phase 2 project.
The membership of the MSAG was as follows:
Chairperson: Ms. Vicky Bowman, Director, Myanmar Center for Responsible Business (MCRB)
Secretariat: JICA Expert Team
- Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Management Committee Secretary (1)
- Income Restoration Program Implementation Supporting Committee (IRPISC) representatives (2)
- Myanmar Japan Thilawa Development (MJTD) representatives (2)
- Project Affected People/Community Representatives (2) (including 1 from the Thilawa SEZ Phase 2/Zone B community)
- Mediators (1)
- Non Government Organisations (NGOs)/Civil Society Organisations (CSOs); Paung Ku (1), Earth Rights International (1), Thilawa Social Development Group (1)
MSAG meetings were held on a quarterly basis from February 2015 – March 2016.
In July/August 2016, a third-party evaluation was undertaken of the MSAG. It concluded that that while the creation of the MSAG was necessary and timely, a new mechanism was needed that would oversee and manage company-community relations in the SEZ.
Discussions have recently commenced regarding development of an alternate mechanism.