National Urban Policy Programme – Myanmar

Background and Objectives 

The rate of urbanization in Myanmar remained very low in the past however, due to economic and political liberalization the urban population is expected to increase from 15.4 million (30% of total population) in 2014 to 18.8 million to 2030. Compared to other developing countries in South-east Asia the rate of urbanization in Myanmar is not as amplified, but majority of the urban population in Myanmar is concentrated in three major cities. This suggests Myanmar’s economic and spatial development stands at a crucial period and negligence on this aspect of Urban Development can increase and worsen the challenges of urbanization for the future. In order to answer the challenges of urbanization and to capitalize on its opportunities, urban policy and planning now embraces a scope that reaches beyond the traditional city-scale. Managing this change in a sustainable and equitable manner means that planning and policy must now address wider ranging questions, which require a broader approach to urban planning and policy and a higher level of vertical and horizontal coordination of urban policies and actions. Therefore, the Government of Myanmar collaborated with UN-Habitat and initiated the development of a National Urban Policy for Myanmar.

Under this initiative, UN-Habitat had initiated studied related to policy development, which resulted in preparation of an Urban Policy Note in 2014, a Rapid Urban Diagnostic Report in late 2016 and a National Urban Policy Framework completed in 2017. The Framework covers principles, priority areas and possible policy options that could be considered during the formulation of the NUP. The priority areas cover the following themes; Municipal Governance and finance; Urban and Regional Legislation; Land Governance; Housing; and Environmental and climate change issues related to urban development.

Since 2017, the policy development is being taken forward with the financial support of Republic of Korea under the project “Pilot phase of the National Urban policy Programme: Developing NUPs and Smart City Strategies in Three Selected Countries”. Since then there have been 2 in-depth consultations with Government bodies and different stakeholders.



 Consultation Workshops

 The first consultation held in June 2018, was a Sub-National Consultation with and objective to discuss and validate the National Urban Policy Framework Report that was undertaken in coordination with UN-Habitat to formulate the Myanmar National Urban Policy. These validations were facilitated with group discussion on the 5 priority areas and extensive group discussions took place.

The second consultation was held in December 2018, which was a National consultation workshop. This was a high-level workshop with attendees from relevant parliamentary committees, high representatives from Nay Pyi Taw Council and the fourteen States and Regions, the Director General and senior officials of the Department of Urban and Housing Department, Development partners, representatives from embassies, professional associations and representatives from UN-Habitat Myanmar Office and UN-Habitat HQ. The workshop’s results were many fold namely; initiation of dialogue between the high officials formally became a guide to move forward to the diagnosis report that will include policy areas with finalized policy options; and formulating the key next steps that highlighted tentative timeline of the launch of NUP which were agreed between DUHD, MoC and UN-Habitat.

After further internal in-depth discussion and consultations, the Government of Myanmar has suggested incorporating 3 new policy priority areas. They are namely Urban Economy, Balanced Spatial Distribution and Urban Infrastructure. These areas are now in diagnosis phase and are being drafted by the Government in consultation with UN-Habitat. As part of this programme, UN-Habitat organized a second Korea exchange visit, which was completed last week. This visit was participated by 3 Government delegates from Myanmar to learn and exchange knowledge on developing smart city strategies integrated with the National Urban Policy.

Next Steps

The next steps of the National Urban Policy Programme would be as follows;

  • Draft Diagnosis Reports on 8 Priority Areas
  • Smart City strategy workshop consultation
  • Facilitated Consultation workshop with Government Bodies
  • Consultation workshop with Development Partners on NUP
  • Meeting with NUC on draft NUP
  • Draft NUP

Development Partner: Government of the Republic of Korea

Collaborating Partners: Department of Urban and Housing Development (DUHD), Ministry of Construction, General Administrative Department (GAD), and other stakeholders