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Large hydropower and legitimacy: a policy regime analysis, applied to Myanmar

Author

Listed:
  • Foran, Tira
  • Kiik, Laur
  • Hatt, Sullivan
  • Fullbrook, David
  • Dawkins, Alice
  • Walker, Simon
  • Chen, Yun

Abstract

Hydropower development in capacity-constrained countries can unfold through unsound policy arguments, narrow institutional and implementing arrangements, and ad hoc decision making processes. To derive insights for more legitimate policy making, we provide the first holistic account of Myanmar’s legitimation struggles over large hydropower, focusing on Myitsone, the country’s most controversial dam, during the period 2003–2011. Our analysis takes a policy regime perspective (specifically, a “political economic regime of provisioning” framework). Among our findings: (1) frequent use of non-rationally persuasive argument among contending actors; (2) a spiral of declining policy legitimacy, which is amplified by civil society mobilization, and halted by a 2011 decision to suspend Myitsone; (3) rejection of Myitsone but conditional acceptance of large hydropower among some elements of civil society. Opportunity and capability for more technically informed, inclusive discussion exists in Myanmar, but given hydropower’s complexities, urgently deserves to be augmented. Although Myitsone in Myanmar is an exceptional case, we offer three propositions to assess and improve policy legitimacy of hydropower.

Suggested Citation

  • Foran, Tira & Kiik, Laur & Hatt, Sullivan & Fullbrook, David & Dawkins, Alice & Walker, Simon & Chen, Yun, 2017. "Large hydropower and legitimacy: a policy regime analysis, applied to Myanmar," MPRA Paper 80944, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:80944
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/80944/1/MPRA_paper_80944.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Mirja Kattelus & Muhammad Mizanur Rahaman & Olli Varis, 2014. "Myanmar under reform: Emerging pressures on water, energy and food security," Natural Resources Forum, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 0(2), pages 85-98, May.
    2. Kowalski, Katharina & Stagl, Sigrid & Madlener, Reinhard & Omann, Ines, 2009. "Sustainable energy futures: Methodological challenges in combining scenarios and participatory multi-criteria analysis," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 197(3), pages 1063-1074, September.
    3. Foran, Tira & Fleming, David & Spandonide, Bruno & Williams, Rachel & Race, Digby, 2016. "Understanding energy-related regimes: A participatory approach from central Australia," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 315-324.
    4. Ansar, Atif & Flyvbjerg, Bent & Budzier, Alexander & Lunn, Daniel, 2014. "Should we build more large dams? The actual costs of hydropower megaproject development," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 43-56.
    5. Kirchherr, Julian & Matthews, Nathanial & Charles, Katrina J. & Walton, Matthew J., 2017. "“Learning it the Hard Way”: Social safeguards norms in Chinese-led dam projects in Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 529-539.
    6. World Bank, 2011. "One Goal, Two Paths : Achieving Universal Access to Modern Energy in East Asia and the Pacific," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2354, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    energy governance; hydropower; policy regime; gaining public acceptance; political ecology; Mekong;

    JEL classification:

    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • Q25 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Water
    • Q28 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy
    • Q42 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Alternative Energy Sources

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