Burma - Country Commercial Guide
Environmental Technology
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For decades, Burma has pursued a conventional economic development path with insufficient attention to environmental safeguards. As a result, the country is currently dealing with detrimental ecological consequences related to climate change and natural disasters, deforestation, mangrove vegetation loss, deterioration of water and air quality, and land degradation, resulting in flooding and landslides, biodiversity loss, depletion of inland and coastal fisheries, and wastewater and solid waste problems management. 

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the energy, agriculture, industrial, and mining sectors added to Burma’s environmental challenges. In terms of ecological governance, Burma scored 179 out of 180 countries measured on the Environmental Performance Index in 2022 and ranked among the world’s least developed countries in environmental management, law, regulation, and infrastructure. Ecosystem vitality and biodiversity protection are especially vulnerable sectors. 

Previous governments made some progress establishing legal and regulatory frameworks for environmental management. The government enacted the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) in 2012, followed by the Environmental Conservation Rules (ECR) in 2014 and the Environmental Impact Assessment Procedure (EIA Procedure) in 2015. National Environmental Quality (Emission) Guidelines (2015) and sector-specific EIA guidelines for the hydropower, mining, and oil and gas industries have been developed. The National Environmental Policy and the Burma Climate Change Policy were released in 2019. These new policies were in harmony with the Burma Sustainable Development Plan 2018-2030 and highlighted the increasing risks of climate change and its impacts on Burma’s economic and social development.  Several ongoing or planned projects address environmental management and are supported by development partners such as the World Bank, IFC, ADB, JICA, UNDP, and NEA since a previous government implemented EIA procedures in 2015.  However, improvements to environmental development projects have largely stalled at this writing. 

Leading Sub-Sectors

Solid Waste Management

Burma faces significant challenges with solid waste management. The key environmental and operational issues arise due to the current practice of open waste dumping and insufficient collection coverage and cleanliness. Landfills are nearly full, and their operation as open dumps is disorganized. Without compaction, waste dumping on steep slopes creates a dangerous situation for waste pickers and reduces landfill capacity.

Contamination of some surface water and groundwater has been observed because of toxic waste components, and contaminated water may affect adjacent farmland. At the same time, surrounding areas are substantially affected by wind-blown light plastic material, and there are risks from methane production, greenhouse gas emissions, and the possibility of landfill fires. Solid waste disposal sites are a significant source of disease for the surrounding population, agricultural lands and workers, and waste collectors. 

Previous governments prioritized upgrading existing infrastructure, including waste collection, transportation, recycling, and waste-to-energy technology. With the assistance of international donors, Burma developed a National Waste Management Strategy and Master Plan (2018–2030).

Water Resource Management

Although Burma has abundant physical water resources, rural people in many states and regions face difficulties accessing water for drinking and irrigation because of a lack of infrastructure, and a common constraint on crop production throughout Burma is crop failure due to drought and flooding. Advanced technologies are in high demand for renovating and improving village ponds, wells, and hydroelectric dams, as well as improving rainwater harvesting and management, enhancing water purification in remote villages, reducing flooding risks, and desalination.  


Private sector players are interested in U.S. environmental solutions and technologies. U.S. companies focusing on recycling systems and technologies will find trade and investment opportunities in Burma. There are demands for advanced wastewater and water treatment technologies. U.S. companies that provide water supply, sanitation, drainage, and wastewater management technologies can find business opportunities in Burma. In addition, products and services related to water softening, pumps, valves, scrapers, sludge dewatering equipment, screening machines, magnetic flowmeters, large chlorinators for water/wastewater systems, and water recycling technologies are also included areas that could also provide business opportunities for U.S. companies.   


Environmental Performance Index 

World Bank Group’s Doing Business 2020 Report 


Contact Information 

The U.S. Commercial Service