Skip to main content

Researchers and policy actors on Myanmar convene at the 2024 Knowledge Marketplace

More than three years after the military overthrow of Myanmar's democratically elected government, an initiative supported by IDRC and Global Affairs Canada continues to nurture a new generation of Myanmar scholars committed to democracy. The Knowledge for Democracy Myanmar (K4DM) initiative will host its annual Knowledge Marketplace at Chiang Mai University in northern Thailand, from July 29 to August 4, 2024.
Miemie Byrd, professor at the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies, speaks to a group of people attending an evening event.
Miemie Byrd, professor at the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies and member of the Regional Advisory Committee of the Knowledge for Democracy Myanmar (K4DM) initiative, addresses a group of stakeholders at an event last year.

The Knowledge Marketplace will include a series of events, training workshops and mentoring opportunities, including a public policy exchange at the university’s School of Public Policy as well as  advanced media training by its School of Journalism. The Marketplace also includes the K4DM-sponsored 4th International Conference on Burma/Myanmar Studies in Chiang Mai, on August 2-4, 2024. 

With over seven projects involving 15 institutional grantees, K4DM has completed its second year of implementation and more than doubled the number of women and men it supports through fellowships. Having grown in number from 51 to 120 from March 2023 to March 2024, these fellows are generating knowledge and building their capacity for research in universities and centres across the Indo-Pacific region — including India, Bangladesh, Thailand and Australia — and in Canada. From Chiang Mai to Canberra to Ottawa, they have engaged the Burmese diaspora and host-country policymakers, including through events held in the Canadian and Thai parliaments to mark the third anniversary of the military coup in February 2024. The initiative has worked to reflect diversity among the fellows, recruiting women and men originating from Myanmar’s border regions with India and Bangladesh, in particular the Chin and Rohingya ethnic communities. 

The emphasis on preserving research capacity through fellowships that are mostly hosted in Asia reflects IDRC's commitment to localizing knowledge. The K4DM initiative has also facilitated online talks and training sessions, reaching nearly 800 Myanmar trainees by the end of 2023, in and outside the country. These efforts aim to establish sustainable alternative higher education opportunities for Myanmar youth. Small grants for digital and governance research have enabled online research within Myanmar. 

Over the past year, the situation in Myanmar has deteriorated, with the extension of the state of emergency in the country by the military regime, escalating attacks by the regime against the civilian population, and the military offensive carried out by a coalition of ethnic armed organizations. Myanmar’s neighbouring countries remain vigilant, mindful of repercussions within their borders. Bangladesh continues to host over 1 million Myanmar refugees. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, with Thailand playing a prominent role, endeavours to broker much-needed peace in Myanmar, while a government in exile seeks to solidify its standing.  

The K4DM initiative will continue to expand its reach and consolidate gains through new fellowships, greater interactions between fellows and a wide range of policy actors, and by strengthening emerging centres of knowledge on Myanmar in the Indo-Pacific region.