The Asia Pacific region is experiencing rapid political, social, economic, and environmental change. Some countries in the region lead the world in economic growth, while others lag behind. Some boast long and well-established democratic traditions, while others struggle with issues of governance and human rights. And everywhere, policymakers are dealing with environmental challenges, population change, health risks, pressure for greater political participation, and uncertainties in the global economy.
The East-West Center’s Research Program supports the Center’s mission by engaging the research and policy communities in the Asia Pacific region on issues of shared concern. Researchers contribute expertise to broad and well-established networks of specialists and institutional partners, leading collaborative and interdisciplinary research on the evolving challenges of a dynamic region. They also provide insights and analysis to the Center’s professional exchange, education, and public outreach programs, including its work with the media.
The East-West Center currently conducts research in three broad areas:
- Environment, Population, and Health
- Innovation and Economic Growth
- Governance, Security, and Justice
Environment, Population, and Health
The Pacific Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessment Program (www.PacificRISA.org) supports integrated research across the social and physical sciences to expand the options of decision-makers facing climate variability and change. Pacific RISA is one of 11 programs in the United States funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The team at the East-West Center has taken a lead role in the production of the Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment (PIRCA), bringing together almost 100 scientific experts and practitioners to generate an integrated report that can be used by communities to create more sustainable and environmentally sound plans in multiple spheres.
Center scholars conduct collaborative research on economic development and environmental change in South and Southeast Asia. One component compares the social and environmental impact of rapid urban growth in India and Pakistan. A second component looks at the impact of expanding rubber cultivation in the uplands of Cambodia, Laos, Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, Vietnam, and China's Yunnan Province and analyzes the impact on water, biodiversity, and carbon sequestration.
Center researchers are exploring whether risks and perceptions of risk associated with highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI)—caused by the H5N1 virus—are associated with transitions linked to economic development. Focused on the situation in Vietnam, this research is designed to improve understanding of the mechanisms that underlie the emergence of new and reemerging infectious diseases.
The East-West Center conducts policy analysis, research and training on the HIV epidemic in Asia. Center scholars have developed two computer models for use in analyzing the spread of the epidemic—the Asian Epidemic Model (AEM) and the UNAIDS Estimation and Projection Package (EPP). Software developed at the Center enables national health programs to analyze their local HIV epidemics and develop effective policy responses. Beginning in Thailand and Cambodia and extending to Burma (Myanmar), Hong Kong, Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines, Vietnam, Peru, and Ukraine, collaborative research teams have investigated the dynamics of the epidemic and have helped develop successful prevention strategies.
The National Transfer Accounts (NTA) project is a collaboration between the East-West Center, the Center for the Economics and Demography of Aging at the University of California Berkeley, and national and regional organizations in 37 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South America. By providing estimates of income, consumption, saving, and both public and private transfers for specific age groups, NTA adds an important dimension to measures of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and other widely used economic indicators. These estimates provide insights into the financial and welfare consequences of alternative policies on taxation, pensions, healthcare, education, and other social programs.
Another collaborative project at the East-West Center provides insights on family change in Asia and the United States. Changes in marriage, fertility, and childrearing have profound implications for both family life and public policy. These developments have occurred in the context of major structural changes in economies, education systems, and other institutions. This project examines attitudes and behavior in relation to education, marriage, divorce, cohabitation, childbearing, childcare, employment, and relationships with parents and children using survey data from Japan, South Korea, and other Asian countries as well as the United States.
Innovation and Economic Growth
Research at the East-West Center examines how the globalization of innovation is transforming relationships between the United States and Asia, with particular emphasis on the Chinese government's innovation policies and the innovation capabilities and strategies of China-based high-tech firms. One objective is to assess the implications of China’s innovation push for the United States. Interviews with key players are used to examine Chinese policies on intellectual property rights, government procurement, and the use of standardization as a tool of innovation policy.
A collaborative project focuses on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, currently under negotiation among the United States and eight other countries. This is an ambitious effort to sustain and invigorate America's economic linkages with the dynamic economies of the Asia Pacific region.
Governance, Security, and Justice
The Asian International Justice Initiative (AIJI) is a collaborative project between the East-West Center and the WSD Handa Center for Human Rights and International Justice at Stanford University (previously known as the Berkeley War Crimes Studies Center). Since 2003, the two centers have worked together on justice initiatives and capacity-building in the human-rights sector, focusing on Southeast Asia. To date, AIJI has conducted training, monitoring, and community outreach projects in connection with the Khmer Rouge trials in Cambodia, East Timor, and Indonesia, including Papua. The Initiative also works at the regional level to support the work of the ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights, and the Human Rights Resource Center for ASEAN. In addition, AIJI conducts an annual Summer Institute for International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. Most recently, AIJI established a presence in Dhaka, Bangladesh, to observe and report on criminal trial proceedings at the International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh.
Effective democratic governance is central to the East-West Center's mission of promoting a peaceful, prosperous, and just Asia-Pacific region. In pursuit of this mission, the Asia-Pacific Governance and Democracy Initiative (AGDI) is a multi-year project that undertakes policy relevant research, organizes capacity development and leadership workshops and senior level dialogues among scholars and policymakers, and publishes books and policy briefs on important governance and democracy topics in the region. Current work focuses on issues of local governance, public-administration reform, and disaster management. In addition, AGDI works with the East-West Center's Seminars Program on a Pakistan-United States Journalists Exchange program and with the environment study area on a comparative study of peri-urban problems in India and Pakistan.
Other research looks at the rise of China and its impact on security in the Asia Pacific region. This work includes assessment of the prospects for peace or conflict in the South China Sea.