Myanmar and Indonesia are both in transition from military dictatorship and armed conflict to democratic governance. Both countries have significant regions of distinct ethnic groups living within vast areas of forests (and other natural resources) that have valuable economic value as well as being vital for local livelihoods and ecosystem services. Further, the regimes in both countries were characterized by—indeed, facilitated by—the over-extraction of forests and other natural resources by agents of the military and their economic and political cronies. These unsustainable practices not only damaged forests but also exacerbated armed conflict and displaced local communities.
Forest Trends and Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR) held a south-south exchange visit of civil society organizations (CSOs) from Myanmar to Indonesia. The goal of the visit was to share the lessons from the two countries related to security sector reform, with a focus on natural resource exploitation.