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The East-West Center Research Program brings a cross-disciplinary approach to understanding the process of rapid transformation that is occurring in Asia and the Pacific. The Center’s collaborative research and capacity-building program aims to promote sustainability, prosperity, equity, and peace in the region.

Current research documents how economic, environmental, social, and political change are shaping Asia and the Pacific. Research focuses on changes in climate, land and water use, health, family dynamics, economic roles, and international politics.

As a boundary organization, the Center's Research Program works with research and policy communities in the US and the Indo-Pacific region to provide more complete knowledge and deeper understanding of environments, societies, economies, governments, and international relations in the region. Capacity building and research to support decision-making are conducted in close collaboration with networks of individuals and institutions throughout Asia and the Pacific and is shared broadly with planners, policymakers, regional specialists, the media, and the general public.

New Publication on Taiwan's Role in the South Pacific

East-West Center Senior Fellow Denny Roy has recently published a report on Taiwan's role in the South Pacific for the National Bureau of Asian Research. Taiwan’s Potential Role in the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy: Convergence in the South Pacific examines the role of the Pacific Islands in Taiwan’s grand strategy and argues that Taiwan’s struggle to maintain formal diplomatic relations with Pacific Island nations dovetails with the United States’ reformulated Indo-Pacific strategy, even if Washington has yet to articulate a clear plan for coordinating activities in the South Pacific with Taipei.

 

 

2018 North Pacific Arctic Conference: Proceedings Now Available

In 2018, the North Pacific Arctic Conference focused on “Arctic 2030 and Beyond―Pathways to the Future." More than 30 participants came from Australia, Canada, China, Finland, Japan, Norway, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States. They explored long-term developments in the Arctic and developed new ideas and constructs for the region. Three crosscutting issues linked conference discussions: governance needs and options, the role of science, and corporate sustainability. A common thread was the importance of sustaining the Arctic as a zone of peace and prosperity in a rapidly changing and often turbulent and unpredictable world. Papers presented at the conference are available in a proceedings volume, The Arctic in World Affairs.

 

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In Hawai‘i and the Pacific Islands, Climate Change Means Billions of Dollars of Coastal Damage, Widespread Coral Death, and Human Health Risks, Official US Assessment Finds

Strained freshwater supplies, damaged and compromised coastal infrastructure, coral reef death, and greater stresses on native biodiversity and species are among the major concerns and challenges detailed in the Hawai‘i-Pacific Islands chapter of the fourth official US National Climate Assessment, released on 23 November 2018. In economic terms, the impacts add up to billions of dollars.

The chapter on Hawai‘i and the US-Affiliated Pacific Islands appears in Volume II of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, the most significant US report to assess the effects of climate change on the US economy and communities. The assessment finds that early action to address these impacts can lower economic, environmental, social, and cultural costs and could help to prevent conflict or displacement from lands and resources.

“This report makes it clear that climate change has arrived far sooner and as a greater threat than we previously thought,” said Dr. Victoria Keener of the East-West Center. The Center’s Pacific Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (Pacific RISA) team served as the chapter’s regional lead. “Here on O‘ahu, we already see road closures during morning rush hour because of flooding, and with sea level rise we’ll see this more and more. Our Pacific Island neighbors on atolls will face sustainability challenges sooner rather than later. The world’s largest insurers recently stated that climate change is creating an ‘uninsurable’ world. Only by acting now can we hope to effectively manage these risks.”

 

It's Official: National Transfer Accounts Data are Included in Statistics Korea

The National Transfer Accounts (NTA) project brings together data and develops analytical tools to show how resources are created, consumed, and shared among age groups, shedding light on the economic implications of population change. NTA results are directly applicable in many policy areas, such as public spending on education, pensions, and health care, and policies that encourage saving for old age and help young families balance the obligations of work and parenthood. For the first time, South Korea has incorporated NTA data into the country's official national statistics, greatly increasing attention and public access to this important policy tool. The release of NTA data by Statistics Korea has generated considerable media attention, both on English-language television and in South Korean newspapers.

The East-West Center coordinates the NTA project together with the Center for the Economics and Demography of Aging at the University of California at Berkeley.

 

East-West Center Authors Participate in Broad Review of Climate Hazards

East-West Center researchers Abby Frazier and Keith Bettinger are among the authors of a new study published in Nature Climate Change, Broad threat to humanity from cumulative climate hazards intensified by greenhouse gas emissions. The study provides one of the most comprehensive assessments yet of how humanity is being affected by the simultaneous occurrence of multiple climate hazards. This assessment indicates that society faces a much larger threat from climate change than previous studies have suggested. The systematic review of thousands of scientific papers revealed 467 ways in which climate hazards—including warming, drought, heat-waves, wildfires, precipitation, floods, storms, sea level rise and changes in land cover and ocean chemistry—have already impacted human health. In connection with the article, more than 3,000 documented case examples, with supporting papers, are listed at http://impactsofclimatechange.info/.

 

New Book on Family Demography in Asia

As the biggest driver of population growth in the world, Asia's demographic future is a global issue, and an understanding of patterns and trends in fertility throughout Asia is critical to understand our shared demographic future. Family Demography in Asia: A Comparative Analysis of Fertility Preferences, soon to be published by Edward Elgar, explores the heterogeneous experience of Asia, home to some of the highest and lowest fertility rates in the world. This is the first book to analyse fertility comprehensively and systematically across the continent through the perspective of individuals themselves rather than as a consequence of top-down government policies. Adjunct Senior Fellow Minja Kim Choe and graduate student Ki Tae Park authored the chapter on South Korea, and Choe is one of the book's co-editors.

 

Report Explores the Conflict Resource Economy and Pathways to Peace in Burma

Burma’s natural resource economy is inextricably tied to the ongoing armed conflict within the country. Questions of who has what ownership rights over what resources and how these resources can be more equitably shared with the wider population loom large. The Conflict Resource Economy and Pathways to Peace in Burma, a report published in November 2018 by the United States Institute of Peace, focuses on Burma’s resource-rich ethnic states and territories near the borders with China and Thailand and suggests that a more robust, accountable, and equitable system for managing the country’s resource wealth can help lay down the pathways to peace. The author of the report, Kevin M. Woods, is a political ecologist and human geographer who specializes in land and natural resource management and its governance reform in ethnic conflict areas. Woods is an Adjunct Fellow at the East-West Center.

 

East-West Center Receives NOAA Grant to Study Climate-Induced Migration from the Marshall Islands

The East-West Center has recently been awarded a $477,079 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to study climate-induced migration from the Republic of the Marshall Islands. This collaborative project will expand knowledge about the health and other effects of climate change in the Marshall Islands and improve the use of climate information to better serve migrant populations in both sending and receiving communities.

 

Changes in Rice Farming in Mainland Southeast Asia

Ongoing changes in the global economy as well as environmental changes mean that both the incentives for growing rice and the ways in which rice is produced will require novel socioeconomic, environmental, and technological adaptations. To help address these challenges, East-West Center researchers are conducting a collaborative study on changes in rice farming in mainland Southeast Asia. Researchers will examine one of the most intriguing agricultural-development questions in the region—how have fewer, older farmers with fewer agricultural laborers and smaller farms managed to more than double rice production over the past 20 years?

 

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