Vermont Law School has received a $300,000 grant to promote environmental regulations in Myanmar, a country beginning to open itself to outside influence and investment following decades of isolation. 

The one-year grant is from the Charlottesville, Va.-based blue moon fund, which supports sustainability projects around the world. Vermont Law plans to use the money to offer training to government officials, business leaders and nongovernmental organizations regarding ways to use law and policy to protect Myanmar’s biodiversity from development. Myanmar is in the early stages of political and economic reform.

“Our deep experience building capacity and developing environmental governance policies in China will allow us to make a constructive difference to this emerging and important nation,” dean Marc Mihaly said.

The law school launched its U.S.-China Partnership for Environmental Law in 2006, with the goal of improving environmental governance and rule of law in China. Members of that project were visiting Myanmar earlier this year when they realized that the country could benefit from the same assistance.

“We saw first-hand the need and opportunity for economic development, but also the impact it would have on Myanmar’s environment,” said Siu Tip Lam, an assistant law professor and director of the U.S.-China project. “Our interest lies in assisting Myanmar’s leaders to enact and enforce strong protections for Myanmar’s valuable and abundant environmental resources in ways that enable the country’s sustainable development.”

The Myanmar project will kick off in 2013, and the law school will aim to educate members of the country’s parliament about how to integrate environmental concerns into their foreign investment decisions. Additionally, project leaders hope to promote understanding of environmental law among a broad base of leaders, including the judiciary, educators and government officials.

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