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Reimagining development in Myanmar 2021-22

Over the last two centuries, colonial occupation in Myanmar has created a political economy based on racial segregation, foreign labour, markets dominated by foreign capital, and the export of primary commodities. Many attempts by successive governments have sought to overturn such legacies, but there has been little success. Despite the political debates around Myanmar’s transition to democracy and its future as a multi-ethnic country over the past 10 years, little attention has been paid to the structure of the economy itself or to alternative paths to economic development vis-à-vis Myanmar’s challenges for democratic and inclusive governance.

Three key problems exist: limited analysis of Myanmar’s political economy, including ways that power, politics, internal conflicts, and cultural context have shaped economic outcomes; weak domestic understanding of global development experiences; and lack of discussion within institutions on the kind of state transformation or governance necessary for economic transformation.

Since 2017, IDRC and Global Affairs Canada have been implementing the Knowledge for Democracy Myanmar (K4DM) initiative to build policy research capacity and nurture meaningful dialogue and engagement among universities, think tanks, government, and civil society to promote evidence-based policymaking during the country’s transition. This new project will build on the foundations of the K4DM initiative to expand public policy advice. The project will convene key thought leaders and stakeholders from a wide range of organizations and feature cutting-edge multidisciplinary research to discuss new policy alternatives for Myanmar’s future development.

Project ID
Project Status
End Date
18 months
IDRC Officer
Anindya Chatterjee
Total Funding
CA$ 650,000.00
Institution Country
Project Leader
Thant Myint-U
U Thant House Trust

Projects by Component Institution