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The interplay of activists and dam developers: the case of Myanmar’s mega-dams


  • Julian Kirchherr
  • Katrina J. Charles
  • Matthew J. Walton


Scholars investigating activism against large dam developments in Asia usually focus on those campaigning, but not on those the campaigns are aimed at – the dam developers. Yet the developers’ perspective is crucial to comprehensively understand the dynamics of social and environmental activism in South-East Asia as well as its implications for the region’s energy landscape. This article analyzes the interplay of activists and Chinese dam developers in Myanmar via case studies of the Myitsone Dam and the Mong Ton Dam. The research is based on direct scholarly interaction with both activists and dam developers. It presents evidence of change from both sides: activists have professionalized in recent years; and Chinese dam developers now attempt to engage with civil society, albeit with limited success in the two cases studied. Yet, even with these changes, conflict over dam development persists, and the country may soon face severe limitations on development options for improving energy security. The case of Bhutan is also discussed to illustrate the potential of developing Myanmar’s hydropower resources.

Suggested Citation

  • Julian Kirchherr & Katrina J. Charles & Matthew J. Walton, 2017. "The interplay of activists and dam developers: the case of Myanmar’s mega-dams," International Journal of Water Resources Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(1), pages 111-131, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:cijwxx:v:33:y:2017:i:1:p:111-131
    DOI: 10.1080/07900627.2016.1179176

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