All articles on Ecology & Social Justice

Southeast Asia: hotspot for renewables or dumping ground for coal?

In the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), renewables contributed 8% to final energy consumption in 2014. Since then, the share renewable energy has only slightly increased whereas fossil fuel-powered generation is the main source for new power plants. Lars Blume and Nguyen Thi Hang illustrate why momentum in Southeast Asia is changing.

Gunarti and The Kendeng Women Movement

Women farmers have become a part of the social movement that transpires in North Kendeng Mountains. The position that originally was only complementary in the local economic and political routine has transformed into an important element in determining the motion of the movement being built. Gunarti, one of the women, shares her stories with us.

By Mokh Sobirin

Natural resource struggles: Shrinking spaces for civil society


Governments and corporations are driving the demand for water, land and organic resources of all kinds as never before. Citizens are fighting for their rights and working to preserve their livelihoods. Our study "Tricky Business" shows how the mechanisms of expropriation work.

Climate of Change: The Struggle for Renewable Energy in Southeast Asia

ASEAN turns 50. The results of its policies and the situation of the Southeast Asian community is at best mixed. Despite impressive economic growth rates, the struggle for social-ecological justice has not resulted in any major achievements so far. Facing a number of ecological crises, especially climate change and sea level rise, the member states are under pressure to act immediately.

COP 23 Bonn: The Climate Commitments and ASEAN

Two years have passed after the 2015 COP 21 Paris, and the Conference of Parties (COP) 23 presided over by the Government of Fiji will be held in Bonn, Germany from 6 - 17 November 2017. A lot have been going on ever since, The success of making China and US committed to the Paris Agreement, and not so long ago President Donald Trump has revoked US’ commitment to lower the global emission in 2020.

By Shaviera Indriyati

Carbon-Free Energy Development Network in Southeast Asia

By creating a carbon-free energy development network, a moderating unit designed as a regional focal point will be established in order to identify synergies on combining or aligning national activities. Sharing successful activities with member organisations will scale up successful actions and activities. The aim is to slow down coal development, reduce regional energy dependency and a financial log in into coal capacity for Southeast Asia.

By Green Innovation and Development Centre

Southeast Asia in the G20: a missed opportunity to push a difficult agenda?

For the countries of Southeast Asia, this year’s rather tumultuous G20 summit held unprecedented opportunities to present themselves as good multilateralists and shape the outcomes of the annual meeting, at least in theory. Apart from Indonesia, the only permanent member of the club, Vietnam, in its function as current Chair of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), attended the summit and Filipino President Duterte who currently chairs the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) equally expected an invitation.

By Jari John

Renewable Energy in ASEAN

Although ASEAN has an advantage when it comes to abundant resources, it remains to be seen whether the region will be able to tap into its potential. The majority of renewable energy sources remain untouched in ASEAN. For example, looking at individual countries, only 2MW of 65GWh technical potential of solar power has been installed, while biomass and wind power are underused in Cambodia. Indonesia only utilizes 5% of its geothermal potential. With the exception of the Philippines, currently in the lead with 400MW of wind energy, wind power remains a door left open for other ASEAN countries.

By Khuong Minh Phuong

Shrinking Spaces and the G20

When the 19 member countries and the EU gathered in Hamburg for the G20 Summit one important topic was not on the agenda: from China to Mexico, Turkey to Russia, Saudi Arabia to India – the respect for fundamental human rights can no longer be taken for granted.

By Barbara Unmüßig

ASEAN among Great Powers

China's increasing presence, from economic to military links, is leading to a potential emergence of Chinese spheres of influence in which Southeast Asia will be regarded as China‘s backyard. To many observers, China‘s regional leadership constitutes an irresistible outcome of China‘s remarkable economic performances and influence. Although the strategic options of smaller powers are limited, ASEAN’s strategies towards great powers show that smaller powers still have a diverse menu of strategic options to choose from, depending on which is most effective in meeting its short- and long-term needs.

By Truong-Minh Vu

Karen communities in Myanmar file complaint with Thai Human Rights Commission: Stop harmful coal mine

Representatives of indigenous Karen communities in Myanmar this week filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand alleging human rights violations resulting from the activities of Thai companies operating an open-pit coal mine. The Ban Chaung mine has polluted the air and water, harmed the livelihoods of local people, and led to the illegal seizure of agricultural land, among other harmful impacts, according to the complaint.

By Inclusive Development International

Statement of CSOs in Vietnam on the AIIB Energy Strategy

We, civil society organizations working to achieve sustainable development in Vietnam, express our collective concern with the Energy Strategy articulated in the Discussion Draft released by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Toward a Global Treaty on Plastic Waste

Plastic pollution is a defining problem of our time - and one entirely of our own making. But how do we solve it? This article proposes a possible solution: a comprehensive, binding, and forward-looking global plastics treaty.

By Lili Fuhr, Nils Simon

Menuju Perjanjian Global mengenai Sampah Plastik

Plastik sudah menyebabkan permasalahan lingkungan hidup, perekonomian, dan sosial dalam skala global. Meskipun diperlukan bahan baku untuk memproduksi plastik, hal ini sangat murah sehingga sering digunakan untuk produk yang akan dibuang – dan seringkali untuk produk yang hanya digunakan sekali. Oleh karena itu, sejumlah besar plastik kemudian menjadi polusi bagi lingkungan hidup.

By Lili Fuhr, Nils Simon

The great transition - Alternative paths for a better and climate just future

The Paris Agreement has set an ambitious goal to prevent global warming from spiraling out of control. But it has also set the stage for what will form the subject of numerous heated debates in the coming years.

G20, Indonesia and the Quest for Parameters of Sustainable Infrastructure

Indonesia has been an active member of G20 since the forum’s inception in 1999. After the ministerial forum was upgraded to be a leader forum in 2008, Indonesian Presidents never missed the summits. Despite their tight domestic affairs schedules both former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the current President Joko Widodo have been in regular attendance at all summit meetings.

By Yulius Purwadi Hermawan

Precious Soils and Seeds - Industrial agriculture and climate smart farming

The food that we eat plays a big role in the search for solutions to climate change. Agriculture is one of the major contributors of greenhouse gases. But the way we farm our land can also be a big part of the solution.

License to pollute - Carbon markets and the new economy of nature

Emission trading systems aim to put a price on carbon, to save emissions where it is cheapest and benefit the global climate. But the approach has failed so far. In the EU, the price for carbon has dropped to a low, so producers can easily continue polluting. And they are actually making huge profits from the permits they receive.

Climate Justice - Can the courts solve the climate crisis?

Can governments and industry be put on trial in climate cases, to ensure the rights of the most vulnerable and future generations? The livelihoods of hundreds of millions could be threatened by unprecedented storms, droughts, floods, and sea-level rise.

Street food in Asia: An industry that is much better than its reputation

From ancient Greece to Pompeii, from China to Turkey and beyond, street food has a long and colorful history. Today, around 2.5 billion people eat street food every day. Especially in Asia, street food has become an urban mainstay and is part of the local food scene in large cities and small towns alike.

By F. G. Winarno

Climate geoengineering – Experimenting with the global thermostat

Can and should the global climate be regulated by technological means, the so called geoengineering? In our first episode of our podcast "Tipping point" our host took off to hear from experts what these approaches mean for the planet’s environment and society.

Are We Junking The Forest For Poor Nutrition? An inquiry into the palm oil industry and junk food

The oil palm is one of the most efficient oil crops in the world, yielding several times the amount produced by other major oil-bearing crops. Its high productivity, competitive price, accessibility for poor households, and versatile uses have driven exponential growth over the past 30 years (USDA-FAS 2009) and secured its place as one of the most important resources in the food industry today.

By Janice Lee

G20 in Hamburg: Setting directions towards a democratic multilateralism

The G20 Hamburg Summit in July 2017 will be about nothing less than how globalization should be governed in the future. The G20 countries will have to respond to the key question of our times: How should a globalized world economy be coordinated for the benefit of all humanity against the backdrop of economic uncertainty, higher levels of inequality, climate change, refugees and migration?

By Heike Löschmann

Dirty Cement: The Case of Indonesia

Since 2001, the worldwide production of cement has increased threefold. Indonesia is an important producer, and the Indonesian market is dominated by three producers: the state-owned Semen Indonesia with more than 45 percent market share (as of 2013), followed by Indocement, of which the German HeidelbergCement holds a 51 percent majority stake (31 percent market share) and Holcim Indonesia (14 percent market share).

By Anett Keller, Marianne Klute

Semen Kotor: Kasus di Indonesia

Saat ini, produksi semen seluruh dunia meningkat tiga kali lipat dibanding tahun 2001. Indonesia adalah negara penghasil semen yang penting dan pasar Indonesia didominasi oleh 3 produsen: PT Semen Indonesia (BUMN) dengan lebih dari 45 persen dari total produksi (2013), diikuti Indocement (31 persen) dimana perusahaan Jerman HeidelbergCement adalah pemilik mayoritas dengan saham 51 persen dan Holcim Indonesia (14 persen).

By Anett Keller, Marianne Klute

Power and legitimacy of the G20 in a multilateral governance system

The Group of 20 (G20) is a “club” of nations with significant influence. There is a significant democratic deficit in the G20 since its decisions and actions are not governed by international law and it is not accountable to representative bodies.

By Nancy Alexander, Heike Löschmann

Valuation and monetisation of nature – No thanks!

We don’t need any “reconciliation of the economy and ecology”. Instead, we should be saying no to destructive and exploitative projects and policies - and yes to a repoliticisation of environmental debate.

By Barbara Unmüßig

“We’ll always have Paris”

At the UN’s COP 22 climate conference in Marrakech, the international community closed ranks despite (or perhaps because of?) the election of Donald Trump as the next U.S. president.

By Lili Fuhr, Liliane Schalatek, Simon Ilse

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Disagreement: Southeast Asia between a rock and a hard place

Brexit and the election of Donald Trump have shocked political and economic elites throughout Asia. For the last decades, the Asian development largely depended on open world markets and the presence of a US security umbrella. A first harbinger of what is yet to come is the suspension, if not de facto cancellation, of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). Without a majority in the US Congress the TPP, at least in its current form, is dead. And that is rather likely.

By Jari John

Radical Realism About Climate Change

Last December in Paris, 196 governments agreed on the need to limit global warming to 1.5°C. But political constraints are causing some to advocate solutions that will do more harm than good.

By Lili Fuhr

The New Realities of Infrastructure Investment in Southeast Asia: A Chinese Shade of Green?

A decade after former US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick urged China to become a “responsible stakeholder” (Zoellick 2005) in the international system, China started its so far biggest multilateral initiative, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Early this year the bank opened for business and started to approve its first projects in Central, South and Southeast Asia

By Jari John

Report: What’s AIIB All About? China, Asia and A Contested Global Order

On 31 October 2016, the Institute of Security and International Studies (ISIS Thailand) organized the Public Forum titled “What’s AIIB All About? China, Asia and A Contested Global Order” in cooperation with Heinrich Böll Stiftung Southeast Asia (hbs) and Chulalongkorn University. The event hosted speakers from a variety of backgrounds to comment on the report “Making Inroads: Chinese Infrastructure Investment in ASEAN and Beyond”, authored by Mark Grimsditch of Inclusive Development International (IDI) with the support of hbs.

By Jari John

Introduction to Inside the Green Economy

Green Economy is a source of both hope and controversy. For some, it points the way out of permanent environmental and economic crises and promises to reconcile – a long cherished Utopia – ecology and economics. It fosters the hope that we can hang on to our current high standard of material prosperity.

By Thomas Fatheuer, Lili Fuhr, Barbara Unmüßig

Coal Atlas 2015

The Heinrich Böll Foundation and Friends of the Earth International have published the first English edition of the Coal Atlas 2015 in Brussels.

ASEAN Economic Integration and Sustainable Urbanisation

Southeast Asian cities will play a critical role in the unfolding of the ASEAN Economic Community, which is to be launched at the end of 2015. A discussion of the inter-linkages among economic growth, urbanisation, consumption, and the environment.

By Bharat Dahiya

Taking the Leap for Changes: A new phase for Burma/Myanmar Studies in ASEAN

“One of the major challenges for Burma is the rushing economic wave as the country is seen as Asian last frontier for business. This creates another gold-rush manner where foreign businesses are rushing to come in to seize opportunities in particular on natural resources extraction,“ said Khin Ohmar, a Myanmar Human Rights Activist from Burma Partnership.

By Fransiskus Tarmedi

Divesting ASEAN: Making Fossil Fuels History

February 13 and 14 marked the Global Divestment Day. The movement calls to take money away from fossil fuel companies. hbs supported accompanying events across the region.

By Julia Behrens

Right Livelihood Conference 2014

In March 2014 a conference was held to show the outcome of the capacity building program on Participatory and Indigenous Natural Resource Management.

By Timmi Tillmann

The Salween Dams and the problems of resource governance in Myanmar’s’ ethnic border areas

At least since the “energy-protests” of May 2012, Myanmar’s strategy of exporting energy to its neighboring countries came under heavy criticism by its own population. Yet while the contested Myitsone hydropower dam on the confluence of the Irrawaddy River was suspended by President Thein Sein due to public pressure, several other big hydropower dams are still being under construction on the Salween River in Myanmar’s eastern border areas with the support of Thai investors.

By Wanwadee Erawan

After COP 19 in Warsaw

The UN climate conference in Warsaw was the COP with the lowest expectations ever. What were the issues discussed and decisions taken?

By Wanun Permpibul, Lili Fuhr, Liliane Schalatek, Katarzyna Ugryn

Indigenous Knowledge & Natural Commons in Myanmar

During the 3rd International Conference on International Relations and Development (ICIRD 2013) entitled “Beyond Borders: Building a Regional Commons in Southeast Asia”which took place on 21-23 August 2013 at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand the Heinrich Böll Stiftung (hbs) organized a workshop on Indigenous Peoples’ natural resource management and the creativity of Indigenous Knowledge and the Natural Commons.

By Marc Bühnemann, Timmi Tillmann, Anan Ganjanapan

Capacity Building Program for Sustainable Natural Resource Management in Myanmar

To highlight the importance of Indigenous Knowledge with regards to Natural Resource Management and Empower Indigenous People and grassroots for sustainable development by making people aware of their natural resource rights, of both legal and customary frameworks hbs together with EcoDev/Alarm has developed a Training of Trainers (ToT) Program on Participatory Indigenous Natural Resource Management.

By Rual Lian Thang

Myanmar’s Natural Resources: Blessing or Curse?

Myanmar’s progress since the 2010 general elections has been astounding, with political transition greatly encouraging citizens and international diplomatic and investment communities. The diplomatic climate for Myanmar has changed dramatically as a result and sanctions have been eased progressively. Not surprisingly, many international investors have cast their eyes on Myanmar’s abundant natural resources for commercial exploitation.

By Rainer Einzenberger, David Allan

Foreign-investment-induced conflicts in Myanmar - The Monywa Copper Mine

As part of the first publication of the series Perspectives Asia, Nwet Kay Khine reflects on the impacts of protest and local opposition against a copper mine which turned into a national movement with international impacts especially for Chinese investors. Using the Letbadaung mining project as an example, the instability of Chinese commercial interests in Myanmar is examined

By Nwet Kay Khine

Myanmar Leadership Institute on Climate Change

In February 2013 Partnerships for International Strategies in Asia (PISA), Yangon-based NGO ALARM, and Heinrich Böll Stiftung Southeast Asia joined forces to offer a week-long Myanmar Climate Change Leadership Institute (MLICC) in Naypyitaw, Myanmar.

By Suzanne Kelly-Lyall

Strengthening Myanmar Literary Society: An Exposure Trip to Thailand

A group of Myanmar writers, poets and publishers visited Thailand in the beginning of July 2012 in order to share and learn from experiences from personalities of Thai media and literature. The one week trip, sponsored by HBF, was organized by Spirit in Education Movement with the intention to strengthen Myanmar literary society.

By Katharin Kattinger

Thai delegation examines alternatives to nuclear power in Germany

The Fukushima nuclear disaster of March 2011 has raised doubts over the security and reliability of nuclear power once again and showed that even in a highly advanced country like Japan such accidents can happen.In a cooperation between the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Berlin and the regional office in Bangkok, a Thai delegation of experts on renewable energy and energy market regulation traveled to Germany to learn more about the energy turnaround and the challenges that comes with it.

By Saksith Saiyasombut

Nuclear Waste: An Unsolvable Problem

The article is a reflection of a trip to Germany in 2010 in order to learn more about nuclear energy and it's implications for Thailand, as well as the problem of nuclear waste.

By Vorawan Wannalak

Lessons from Fukushima

Mr. Santi Chokechaichamnankit from Nuclear Monitor Thailand visited Japan for the "No Nukes Asia Forum 2011".

By Santi Chokechaichamnankij

To Live or to Live a Good Life by Nino Sarabutra

What do we need to be happy? Do consumerism and luxury really make our life precious or do the small and simple things, like having a good meal with family and friends, make life valuable? These questions are addressed in Nino Sarabutra’s new exhibition “To Live or to Live a Good Life”.

Developing and Electrifying Myanmar: Lessons Learned from Thailand

With development and bilateral aid institutions as well as corporations, businesses, and tourists flocking to the country, Myanmar is faced with a great opportunity to rapidly change its economy and the lives of its people. But will Myanmar be able to develop its economy and bring electricity to its people in a sustainable, equitable, and democratic manner? What development and electrification models are out there?

By Chuenchom Sangarasri Graecen

No Nukes Asia Forum 2011: Lessons Thailand must learn

Heinrich Boll Stiftung Southeast Asia Regional Office supported seven Thais participating in the No Nukes Asia Forum 2011 during July 29-August 7 to gain insight exposure and be part of regional anti-nuclear movement. The seven Thais included three local villagers from three provinces of Ubon Ratchathanee, Trad and Chumporn, where nuclear power plants are proposed; one nuclear activist, and three media. This article is from a discussion with Mr. Santi Chokechaichamnankit, Nuclear Monitor, Thailand.

Debates about the nuclear future in Thailand

In 2010 the Government of Thailand adopted the Power Development Plan. It provides the construction of five nuclear power plants. But the nuclear disaster in Japan has opened up the discussion about the nuclear future of Thailand again.

By Jost Pachaly

Voices from Thai Local Communities: Nuclear Is Not the Option for Thailand

Sustainable Energy Network Thailand (SENT), Nuclear Monitor, MeeNET, Greenpeace Southeast Thailand and Heinrich Boll Stiftung (hbs) together organized a forum on March 15, 2011, Bangkok, to exchange knowledge and update each other on the nuclear situation in Japan which would bring about the lessons and precautions that Thailand should take in its decision to go nuclear.