AWARENESS: International Day of Action for Rivers [14 March]

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Adopted by participants of the first International Meeting of People Affected by Dams, March 1997 in Curitiba, Brazil, the International Day of Action for Rivers is a time for community members, civil society and organizations like us to celebrate the value of healthy rivers, and educate and spread awareness about the conservation of our watersheds and the importance of equitable and sustainable management of rivers and waterways. Today we recognize the 21st annual Day of Action, an event that directly connects with much of work we do here at the Center for Social Development Studies. 

As one can probably tell from following our work and posts, we are quite passionate about the work and research we do on the region's rivers, particularly the Salween and Mekong Rivers, as well as the communities that depend on them for life and livelihoods and the unique but heavily threatened ecosystems that are located along these basins. Most recently the Center and its partners held a special workshop in Yangon, Myanmar on the present state and future of the Salween (Thanlwin) River, bringing together over 60 participants to debate and present research and findings about a great diversity of topics related to this important waterway, with the hope that policy and actions would eventually make their way up to official decision-makers with the goal of creating greater ownership for the river, leading to better planning and conservation of both the natural ecologies and human settlements.

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In 2017 CSDS helped support a special project called "Salween Stories," with the aim to use locally produced multimedia to tell the stories of the unique individuals and communities that live along the river. From Yunnan, China to the border regions of Thailand/Myanmar, this unique method of storytelling takes visitors to remote and often mystical locations around Southeast Asia to explore the lifestyles, myths and issues all stemming from one of the world's most important and threatened rivers. Visit their website to be transported to Hpa-an, Mae Sam Laep, Mong Pan and Nujiang

Spring 2018 marks the end of one of CSDS's most prominent, practical and most riparian-focused programs, the Salween Water Governance Fellowship, which brought together dozens of researchers based in Thailand and Myanmar, focused on strengthening networks between university researchers and civil society groups, and contributing to the empowerment of local communities. Last year's Greater Mekong WLE Forum saw the culmination of these projects with presentation from all research fellows which marks a major milestone in both the Center's vision and the achievements of the individuals and the work they represent. The policy briefs based on the research undertaken for this project can be found and downloaded here

The Center for Social Development Studies also welcomes you to visit our Publications sector to explore a great deal more research and information centered around rivers and the people who live on or around them.

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AWARENESS: International Women's Day [8 March]

By Robert Irven

"This year, International Women’s Day comes on the heels of unprecedented global movement for women’s rights, equality and justice. Sexual harassment, violence and discrimination against women has captured headlines and public discourse, propelled by a rising determination for change." -United Nations

Today marks the celebration of International Women's Day, a day in which we should reflect on the progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage, resilience and determination by both ordinary and extraordinary women who have played an important role in the history of their countries, society and local communities. This year, the theme of today's celebrations and events is "Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives,” which puts an emphasis on the importance women play in the development of both parts of society. "Echoing the priority theme of the upcoming 62nd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, International Women’s Day will also draw attention to the rights and activism of rural women, who make up over a quarter of the world population, and are being left behind in every measure of development." (United Nations, 2018)

As our Center is a strong believer and advocate for human rights, women's rights, and the ongoing struggle to achieve them in full, certainly falls under this overarching theme, and much of our past and current work focuses on gender and its connection to development in the region. The subject of gender, often combined to create a nexus of justice, development or equality, were touched upon in a variety of our publications, most notably from our Salween Fellowship researchers. From various blogs, to policy briefs on the topics of  "Gender and Hydropower: Women’s Rights in the Development Discourse" or "Large Hydropower Projects in Ethnic Areas in Myanmar: Placing Community Participation and Gender Central to Decision-Making," the Center for Social Development Studies continues to put gender and the importance of having women at the forefront of development and decision-making processes as a main priority of our research and projects.

For more information about International Women's Day 2018 and additional downloadable resources, please visit the official United Nations website.

Video message by H.E. Mr. António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General, on the occasion of International Women's day 2018.

AWARENESS: World Day of Social Justice [20 February]

By Robert Irven

"Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. We uphold the principles of social justice when we promote gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants. We advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability." -United Nations

These words help us set the context to mark the World Day of Social Justice 2018, a day to bring awareness to the fight for seeking social justice for the development and human dignity of all those around the world. This year, a special theme has been set: Workers on the Move: the Quest for Social Justice. Considering the increasing numbers of those on the move, whether they be migrants, refugees or the many who sit in the grey area in between, one cannot deny that this issue is one that has much importance, both currently and for the foreseeable future. In 2007, the General Assembly proclaimed 20 February as the World Day of Social Justice, inviting Member States to devote the day to promoting national activities in accordance with the objectives and goals of the World Summit for Social Development and the twenty‐fourth session of the General Assembly. Observance of World Day of Social Justice should support efforts of the international community in poverty eradication, the promotion of full employment and decent work, gender equity and access to social well‐being and justice for all.

Living with Floods in a Mobile Southeast Asia' book

Here at the CSDS, one of our main themes of work centers around "Human Rights, Human Security & Justice," an area which we believe is relevant in every part of daily life, and a subject that must be kept in the foreground of any development discussion or project. A major project that was recently completed titled "Transboundary Rivers: Arenas of Justice" focused on using a specific rights-based approach to the food-water-energy nexus that exists within and around the region's major waterways, allowing for difficult yet important discussions around these topics to be had. 

Research out of our Salween Fellowship program has also produced a variety of publications focused on the topic of justice, which can be found for viewing and download here. As this years' events also center around the topic of movement, the newly launched booked "Living with Floods in a Mobile Southeast Asia: A Political Ecology of Vulnerability, Migration and Environmental Change” also provides an in-depth look at how national and regional policy-agendas and responses to environmental disaster and climate change-related hazards are adding to the complexities of human mobility in Southeast Asia. Dive deeper into a conversation about water justice in Laos with the book chapter Arenas of Water Justice on Transboundary Rivers: A Case Study of the Xayaburi Dam, Laos

For more information about the World Day of Social Justice and additional downloadable resources, please visit the official United Nations website.

Thousands of migrant workers, mainly from Egypt and Tunisia, wait to cross into Tunisia from Libya. UNHCR/A Duclos

Thousands of migrant workers, mainly from Egypt and Tunisia, wait to cross into Tunisia from Libya. UNHCR/A Duclos