grantees » Tao Zuo

Tao Zuo, China

The controversial Myitsone Dam project in Kachin State, Myanmar was halted in 2011 as a result of widespread protests. Zuo Tao is interested in learning how Myanmar civil society groups advocated for the cancellation of the project.

Zuo Tao is an experienced activist from China. After working with Save the Children for six years, Zuo went on to participate at the Earth Rights International Mekong School Programme. Here she became interested in studying the overall social, economic and environmental impact on Chinese overseas investment. Consequently she chose the Myitsone Dam project as the subject of her MA study in Social Anthropology. She has since gone on to participate in the prestigious School of Oriental and Africa Studies in London. The rather ambitious goal of this study is to find out how one can “improve the communication between Chinese investors and local civil society groups and bring investment policy in line with internationally accepted environmental standards”.

Zuo used her JWH Initiative grant to finance the field research necessary for her study. This included interviews with a long list of organizations such as Mekong Energy and Ecology Network, Renewable Energy Association Myanmar and the Ju Foundation. The program helped Zuo network with other individuals that share her interests in collaborating on environmental development. The field work also contributed to her understanding of the role of NGOs in social and environmental movements. Furthermore, Zuo developed her skills as a researcher, improving her writing and analytical skills. Her dissertation has received a positive welcome in academic circles.

On a more personal level, Zuo tells us that she will input her “energy, time, and capacity accumulated during the process to promote better Chinese investment practice in my future career”. Her improved academic skills and larger network will undoubtedly lead her into accomplishing this.

Nominated by

Sabrina Gyorvary Mekong School - EarthRights International Thailand.