Thiri Shwesin Aung, Indra Overland, and Roman Vakulchuk. 6/2/2021. “Environmental performance of foreign firms: Chinese and Japanese firms in Myanmar.” Journal of Clean Production. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Little is known about what makes foreign investors adopt different environmental approaches in developing countries. The objective of this study is to conceptualize and investigate the drivers of the environmental performance of foreign firms. In doing so, the article analyses the environmental profiles of Chinese and Japanese firms in Myanmar in a comparative perspective. Applying institutional and resource-based theories, it investigates the complex and multifaceted roles that domestic regulations and internal resources of firms play in the environmental performance of the companies. The study contributes to the literature on corporate environmental behaviour by constructing a novel set of environmental variables connected with FDI. The article is based on survey data covering 296 Chinese and 125 Japanese companies operating in Myanmar. The data were analysed using a hierarchical multiple linear regression analysis. It is found that Japanese companies tend to adopt all-inclusive and comprehensive strategies driven by both regulatory pressure and firm capacity when addressing environmental issues, while the environmental choices of Chinese companies tend to be driven by intra-firm resources. For Chinese companies, neither ownership type nor operating in a polluting industrial sector necessarily influence the environmental profile, whereas both of these variables had significant effects on the environmental performance of Japanese firms. The findings indicate that both resource-based and institutional theories are useful when assessing the influence of environmental regulations on FDI in transition economies.
Thiri Shwesin Aung, Jon Unruh, and FaizanAli. 4/14/2021. “Modelling the determinants of voluntary repatriation: The role of ecosystem services in post-conflict reconstruction in Rakhine.” Journal of Environmental Management. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Voluntary repatriation has the utmost importance in the contemporary understanding of refugee protection. Voluntary repatriation in safety and with dignity is considered to be the most desirable and durable solutions for refugees. However, voluntary repatriation represents increasingly daunting challenges to the refugees, the governments of both home and host countries, and implementing partners. The repatriation planning of Rohingya refugees is widely criticized as being profoundly premature and dangerous. Most of the refugees are set to return to destroyed villages where food and shelter are inadequate, ecosystem services overstretched, livelihood opportunities marginal and the physical environment unfit for human habitation. Investigating the view and perspectives of the refugees on the factors that influence their intention to return can inform the implementing actors to secure those conditions and ensure a durable solution. Here, we identify the conditions that influence the decisions by Rohingya refugees in protracted displacement regarding return to Myanmar. This research also addresses the dual challenges of repatriation and sustainable post-conflict reconstruction, and, more specifically, provides a framework on how to integrate ecosystem services in the repatriation process.
Thiri Shwesin Aung. 3/26/2021. “Satellite Analysis of the Environmental Impacts of Armed-Conflict in Rakhine, Myanmar.” Science of The Total Environment. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The impacts of armed conflict on the environment are extremely complex and difficult to investigate, given the impossibility of accessing the affected area and reliable data limitation. Very-high-resolution satellite imageries and highly reliable machine learning algorithms become very useful in studying direct and indirect impacts of war on the ecosystem, in addition to connected effects on human lives. The Rohingya conflict is described as one of the worst humanitarian crises and human-made disasters of the 21st Century. Quantification of damage due to the conflict and the suitability of human resettlement has been lacking despite the ongoing agreements to repatriate refugees and the importance of ecosystem services for the communities' survival. In this work, the investigation of environmental conditions pre-, during, and post-conflict in the conflict zone was carried out using satellite data. The Google Earth Engine (GEE) cloud-based computing platform with a widely applied algorithm, the Random Forest (RF) classifier was implemented and experienced. Striking near-complete demolition of inhabited regions, dramatic and highly significant increase in burning areas, and substantial deforestation were found. The study discusses the reasons behind such findings from the Rakhine case and debates some general conservation lessons applicable to other countries undergoing post-conflict transitions.
Thiri Shwesin Aung, Roman Vakulchuk, Indra Øverland, and Yanhua Xie. 3/11/2021. “Using satellite data and machine learning to study conflict-induced environmental and socioeconomic destruction in data-poor conflict areas: The case of the Rakhine conflict.” Environmental Research Communications.Abstract
This paper studies socioeconomic and environmental changes in the border area between Bangladesh and Myanmar from 2012 to 2019, thus covering the period before and after the 2017 Rakhine conflict in Myanmar and outflux of refugees across the border to Bangladesh. Given the scarcity and expense of traditional data collection methods in such conflict areas, the paper uses a novel methodological model based on very-high-resolution satellite imagery, nighttime satellite imagery, and machine-learning algorithms to generate reliable and reusable data for comparative assessment of the impacts of the Rakhine conflict. Assessments of welfare and environmental risks using this approach can be accurate and scalable across different regions and times when other data are unavailable. Key findings are: the general livelihood situation has worsened and income sources shrunk in Rakhine; forced migration damaged the ecologically fragile regions in the two countries; the destruction of aquaculture wetland ecosystems is observed in Rakhine; the deforestation rate reached 20% in Rakhine and 13% on the Bangladeshi side of the border. The results can provide guidance to policymakers and international actors as they work to repatriate the victims of the conflict in Rakhine and minimize the conflict's security and environmental consequences. The methodology can be applied to other data-poor conflict and refugee areas in the world.
THIRI SHWESIN AUNG & Others. 3/2021. “Guidelines for strategic environmental assessment in developing countries: examples from Asia.” In Handbook on Strategic Environmental Assessment, Pp. 124. London: Edward Elgar Publishing. Publisher's VersionAbstract
This comprehensive Handbook shows how Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), an important decision support tool for strategies, policies, plans and programmes, is applied globally. It reflects on SEA practices and the advancements made over the past three decades in the development of SEA.
Thiri Shwesin Aung, Thomas B. Fischer, and Yihan Wang. 2/24/2021. “Conceptualization of Health and Social Vulnerability of Marginalized Populations During Covid-19 Using Quantitative Scoring Approach.” JOURNAL OF IMMIGRANT & REFUGEE STUDIES. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Covid-19 is a global health emergency and a systemic human development crisis. Marginalized populations’ ability to respond tends to be low and associated impacts can be serious for already vulnerable communities. The virus impacts vulnerable populations unequally. Pandemic containment measures can render vulnerable populations to multiple interacting stressors. In this paper, we report on an investigation into health and social vulnerability of Rohingya refugees in Malaysia. Results suggest that the Rohingya refugees are highly vulnerable. Factors contributing to their vulnerability are Covid-19 response, resilience, susceptibility, basic need conditions, anxiety, social stigma, awareness of Covid-19 prevention and isolation and fear.
Thiri Shwesin Aung, Thomas B. Fischer, and Azlin Suhaida Azmi. 1/21/2021. “Social impacts of a large-scale hydropower project in Myanmar: a social life cycle assessment of Shweli hydropower dam 1.” The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Hydropower is currently the primary renewable energy source for Myanmar. However, hydropower projects can cause direct and indirect detrimental impacts on the livelihoods of populations. Social impacts of planned hydropower projects should therefore be assessed. In this paper, we report on the application of a Social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA) for evaluating social and human rights impacts of hydropower construction, operation and maintenance, and transportation of materials.

Material and method
S-LCA is capable of assessing multiple social stressors and tracking different impact categories within potentially disturbed communities. Both direct and indirect interaction between stakeholders and social impacts at every stage of a project can be evaluated. An existing large-scale hydropower dam in the Ayeyarwady River, Shweli hydropower dam 1, is used in this paper as an example for analysis.

Results indicate the magnitude and intensity of social and human right impacts caused by the Shweli hydropower dam 1 in Myanmar. The dam gives rise to a series of negative impacts while offering little to no tangible benefits to local people and society. Overall, the most commonly held view expressed by stakeholders was that the dam did not offer the promised social and economic benefits. The weakest social performance was observed in the governance and socio-economic repercussion categories.

A number of important socio-economic impacts are identified, offering useful insights to energy, ecosystem services, and land use policy makers. The results offer opportunities to examine potential impacts of forthcoming hydropower projects in the region and create long-term socio-economic benefits.

Thiri Shwesin Aung and Thomas B. Fischer. 9/23/2020. “Quality of environmental impact assessment systems and economic growth in countries participating in the belt and road initiatives.” Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal. Publisher's VersionAbstract
In this paper, a comparative review is provided of the quality of EIA systems in 65 countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Furthermore, whether the quality of EIA systems is correlated with national GDP per capita in each country is explored. The review is carried out by means of an integrated EIA index (EIA Quality index – EQI). In developing the EQI, views and perceptions of experts were considered, based on Multi-Criteria-Decision-Analysis (MCDA). Results of the comparative evaluation indicate that there is a great disparity between EIA systems in the 65 countries. Countries with existing challenges, such as poverty, civil war and institutional instability tend to achieve lower EQI scores. Finally, a positive (albeit weak) correlation is found between EQI scores and GDP per capita.
Thiri Shwesin Aung, Thomas B. Fischer, and John Buchanan. 8/19/2020. “Land use and land cover changes along the China-Myanmar Oil and Gas pipelines – Monitoring infrastructure development in remote conflict-prone regions.” PLOS ONE. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Energy infrastructures can have negative impacts on the environment. In remote and / or sparsely populated as well as in conflict-prone regions, these can be difficult to assess, in particular when they are of a large scale. Analyzing land use and land cover changes can be an important initial step towards establishing the quantity and quality of impacts. Drawing from very-high-resolution-multi-temporal-satellite-imagery, this paper reports on a study which employed the Random Forest Classifier and Land Change Modeler to derive detailed information of the spatial patterns and temporal variations of land-use and land-cover changes resulting from the China-Myanmar Oil and Gas Pipelines in Ann township in Myan- mar’s Rakhine State of Myanmar. Deforestation and afforestation conversion processes during pre- and post-construction periods (2010 to 2012) are compared. Whilst substantial forest areas were lost along the pipelines, this is only part of the story, as afforestation has also happened in parallel. However, afforestation areas can be of a lower value, and in order to be able to take quality of forests into account, it is of crucial importance to accom- pany satellite-imagery based techniques with field observation. Findings have important implications for future infrastructure development projects in conflict-affected regions in Myanmar and elsewhere.

Thiri Shwesin Aung, Thomas B. Fischer, and Azlin Suhaida Azmi. 8/3/2020. “Are large-scale dams environmentally detrimental? Life-cycle environmental consequences of mega-hydropower plants in Myanmar.” The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment , 24 (25), Pp. 20487-20501. Publisher's VersionAbstract


Rivers control biophysical processes that underpin essential ecosystem services. Myanmar’s rivers provide great opportunities for increasing energy supply at low costs from hydropower plants and make important contributions to the national economy. However, associated environmental impacts, as well as input and output flows of hydropower developments, remain less well understood. In this paper, we report on an investigation of the overall environmental effects of five hydropower plants in Myanmar, using a life-cycle impact assessment (LCIA) approach. The primary objective of the paper is to generate detailed life-cycle inventory data and quantify the environmental impacts of the existing five hydropower plants in Myanmar.

Material and method

This paper reports on a “cradle to grave” LCIA for five hydropower plants in which environmental impacts associated with construction, operation and maintenance, transportation, and decommissioning of large-scale hydropower plants in Myanmar were systematically assessed.


Construction, transportation, operation and maintenance phases are most sensitive to global warming, mineral resource depletion, acidification, freshwater aquatic ecotoxicity, human toxicity and photochemical ozone creation. There is heterogeneity in hydropower plants’ effects on the environment, based on the size of the power plant.


Strategic selection of hydropower projects is suggested to enhance resilience in environmentally sensitive areas. It is concluded that more comprehensive and rigorous environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) is needed, not only for mega-dams but also for the smaller-scale hydropower plants.

Thiri Shwesin Aung, Thomas B. Fischer, and Shengji Luan. 3/2020. “Evaluating environmental impact assessment (EIA) in the countries along the belt and road initiatives: System effectiveness and the compatibility with the Chinese EIA.” Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 81, Pp. 106361. Publisher's Version
Thiri Shwesin Aung, Shengji Luan, and Qiyong Xu. 6/10/2019. “Application of multi-criteria-decision approach for the analysis of medical waste management systems in Myanmar.” Journal of Cleaner Production, 222, Pp. 733-745. Click to view
Thiri Shwesin Aung. 1/1/2019. “THE CURRENT SITUATION OF MYANMAR'S ENVIRONMENTAL AND NATURAL RESOURCES GOVERNANCE.” In Current politics and economics of South, Southeastern, and Central Asia, 28 (1): Pp. 33-58. New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.Abstract
This chapter examines the current state of environmental and natural resources governance in Myanmar for addressing priority needs, challenges and opportunities, and identifies possible areas of improvement. Recently emerged from decades of political and economic isolation, the country is actively integrating with the global economy and its economic development is accelerating. Myanmar is endowed with an extensive array of biodiversity and abundant natural resources, with almost 40% of forest cover, pristine coastline and exclusive economic zones which is a home to boundless fisheries and other marine resources. The country relies heavily on natural resources to boost its economy and most of its foreign direct investment (FDI) is directed toward extractive industries. On the other hand, mismanagement, lack of responsible business conducts, poor governance and poor transparency have left Myanmar with some of the worst development indicators and environmental performance. At the absence of effective environmental regulations and natural resource management, environmental degradation and resource depletion are rising rapidly. The chapter appraises current environmental laws, natural resources policy measures, and natural resource governance frameworks, and put forward policy recommendations.
Thiri Shwesin Aung. 1/2019. “Myanmar: Environmental, Political and Social Issues.” In Myanmar: Environmental, Political and Social Issues, edited by Filip Lesniewski. New York. Nova Science Publishers, Inc. Publisher's Version
Thiri Shwesin Aung. 9/2017. “Evaluation of the environmental impact assessment system and implementation in Myanmar: Its significance in oil and gas industry.” Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 66, 24, Pp. 32. Publisher's Version
Thiri Shwesin Aung, Behnaz Saboori, and Ehsan Rasoulinezhad. 7/15/2017. “Economic growth and environmental pollution in Myanmar: an analysis of environmental Kuznets curve.” Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 24, Pp. 20487–20501. Publisher's Version