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The East-West Center Research Program works with research and policy communities in the US and the Asia Pacific to provide more complete knowledge and deeper understanding of environments, societies, economies, governments, and international relations in the region. Research is 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.

Two Early-Career Scholars Join the East-West Center Research Program

Phanwin Yokying and Abby Frazier are the newest members of the East-West Center Research Program.

The East-West Center recently welcomed two new Fellows in the Research Program.

Dr. Phanwin Yokying studies gender issues in Asia and Africa, with a specific focus on women and children’s time use. She will also be involved in a multi-disciplinary research project that investigates long-term changes in rice production systems in Southeast Asia. Dr. Yokying recently completed a Ph.D. in Economics from American University.

Dr. Abby G. Frazier works on drought and its impacts on the management of water resources and ecosystems in the Pacific Islands. Her work also covers the impacts of changes in extreme events (e.g., flooding, drought) on rice farmers in mainland Southeast Asia. Dr. Frazier recently completed Ph.D. and M.A. degrees in Geography at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

 

Rubber Plantations Replace Forests in Southeast Asia

Terraces with rubber trees in Southeast Asia
Ninety-seven percent of the world's natural rubber comes from Southeast Asia.

Over the past 50 years, the mountainous region of mainland Southeast Asia has witnessed a dramatic expansion of commercialized agriculture. The emphasis has been on tree-based cash crops and, in particular, on rubber.
Much of this expansion has come at the expense of the region’s native forests.

In Rubber Has Replaced Natural Forests in Southeast Asia, Kaspar Hurni and Jefferson Fox chart the expansion of rubber production in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Shan State in Myanmar, and Xishuangbanna refecture in China. By 2014, rubber accounted for 8 percent of the total land cover in an area twice the size of France. Seventy percent of this expansion came at the espense of natural forests.

In Opium, Rubber, and a Land Grab on Myanmar's Border with China, Kevin Woods notes that the Myanmar government has allocated large tracts of land to private businesses—often with ties to the military or to favored local armed groups. These "land grabs"—ostensibly to grow rubber—have often been financed in part by the Chinese government under the guise of a crop substitution program to reduce the production of opium poppies. In the process, conflict between ethnic-based armed rebel groups and the national military has only increased.

In a third issue of the East-West Wire, Jefferson Fox and his colleagues describe two very different ways in which rubber production has expanded throughout the region In China, Thailand, and Vietnam, many local farmers have started growing rubber trees, and some have become wealthy. In Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar, by contrast, traditional farmers are being squeezed out by large companies. Government policies and programs appear to make all the difference in who benefits from expanded rubber production and who does not.

 

Twelfth Global Meeting of the National Transfer Accounts Network

Researchers from 31 countries around the world took part in the 12th Global NTA Conference from 23-27 July 2018.

The goal of the National Transfer Accounts (NTA) project is to improve understanding of how population growth and changing population age structure influence economic growth, gender and generational equity, public finances, and other important features of the macro-economy. Research teams in more than 60 countries are constructing accounts that measure how people at each age produce, consume, and share resources, and save for the future. These accounts are designed to complement the UN System of National Accounts, population data, and other important economic and demographic indicators.

Today, countries all over the world are experiencing a demographic transition characterized by changes in population age structure. Each stage of the transition poses special challenges for policymakers. As fertility decline results in fewer children, will families and governments use their resources to improve education and healthcare for each child? As working-age populations expand relative to other age groups, will the public and private sectors keep pace with expanding opportunities for productive employment? And as elderly populations increase, will public pension and healthcare programs be sustainable? In July 2018, NTA researchers came together in Mexico City for the network's twelfth global meeting. Presentations and discussions focused on the opportunities and challenges that the demographic transition presents for meeting the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.

 

Workshop on Smart City Air Quality Management in Da Nang, Vietnam

The East-West Center and the Da Nang Institute of SocioEconomic Development cosponsored a workshop on urban air pollution in major cities of Vietnam.

The East-West Center has initiated a project to promote air quality management in the future smart cities of Vietnam. The goal is to create a multi-disciplinary action-research network. In collaboration with the Da Nang Institute of Socio-economic Development, the Center brought together more than a dozen representatives of universities, non-governmental organizations, consulting groups, and municipal bodies from three Vietnamese cities—Ha Noi, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City. Meeting on 14-15 September 2018, participants shared results of pilot surveys using low-cost air pollution sensors provided by the Center. Discussions focused on assessing the current status of research and programs on air-pollution monitoring, risk assessment, governance, and community awareness raising and empowerment The workshop went on to produce a priority list of ideas for future work.

 

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