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Open AccessArticle

Whose Agency Counts in Land Use Decision-Making in Myanmar? A Comparative Analysis of Three Cases in Tanintharyi Region

1
Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
2
Institute of Geography, University of Bern, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
3
Environmental Care and Community Security Institute, Yangon 11011 , Myanmar
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2018, 10(10), 3823; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10103823
Received: 31 August 2018 / Revised: 11 October 2018 / Accepted: 12 October 2018 / Published: 22 October 2018
Myanmar has experienced profound transformations of land use and land governance, often at the expense of smallholders. Empirical evidence on the agency of actors included and excluded in land use decision-making remains scarce. This study analyses who influences land use decision-making, how they do this, and under what circumstances smallholders are included. Comparing three land use trajectories in southern Myanmar, we analysed actors’ agency—conceived as the meanings and means behind (re)actions—in land use decision-making using data from focus groups and interviews. Results showed that uneven distribution of means can lead to unequal decision-making power, enabling actors with more means to exclude those with less means: smallholders. However, this only applies in the case of top-down interventions with mutually exclusive actor interests regarding use of the same land. Where interests are compatible or a mediator supports smallholders in negotiations, actors are likely to develop a collaboration despite unequal means, leading to smallholders’ inclusion in decision-making. Transformation of current land governance towards sustainable development could be promoted by providing mediators to actors with few means, ensuring equal access for all to formal land tenure, engaging with brokers in the land governance network, and improving access to knowledge and financial capital for actors with few means. View Full-Text
Keywords: Burma; land system science; land governance; land use change; smallholders; sustainable development Burma; land system science; land governance; land use change; smallholders; sustainable development
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Lundsgaard-Hansen, L.M.; Schneider, F.; Zaehringer, J.G.; Oberlack, C.; Myint, W.; Messerli, P. Whose Agency Counts in Land Use Decision-Making in Myanmar? A Comparative Analysis of Three Cases in Tanintharyi Region. Sustainability 2018, 10, 3823.

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