East-West Center Fellow, Phanwin Yokying (standing), interviews rice farmers in Pathum Thani Province, Thailand.

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.


Featured Research Projects

Recent Publications

East-West Wire

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East-West Center researchers are studying changes in climate, land and water use, health, family dynamics, economic roles, and international politics in the Indo-Pacific region.
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East-West Center authors publish analysis, commentary, and research findings in books, reports, and articles in magazines and scholarly journals.
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East-West Wires produced by the Research Program are two-page summaries on a wide range of topics. They are published as part of a news, commentary, and analysis service provided by the East-West Center.


Learning from Success in Climate-Informed Decision-Making: Case Studies Across Three U.S. Regions

A network of sustained assessment specialists created within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (NOAA RISA) program present a new report that includes five case studies of successful local responses to climate change supported by scientific information. East-West Center Project Specialist Zena Grecni was the lead author. Based on three regions—the U.S. Pacific Islands, the South Central United States, and the Rocky Mountain West—the case studies feature local managers who are providing and applying climate information, with valuable outcomes, across a range of geographic scales and sectors. They include improving local climate-adaptation efforts in San Angelo, Texas, enhancing the resilience of iconic coastal ecosystems on Hawai‘i Island, managing water in the Colorado River Conservation District, increasing conservation resilience in the southern Great Plains, and using El Niño forecasts to plan for drought in the Pacific Islands. The case studies provide new insights, which are summarized as five practical lessons for anyone seeking to better integrate climate considerations into decision-making.


East-West Center Researcher Receives Commendation from President of South Korea

Sang-Hyop Lee receiving Presidential Commendation Award in Daejeon, South Korea.

On 29 August 2019, during the celebration of South Korea's Statistics Day, East-West Center Senior Fellow, Sang-Hyop Lee, received a Presidential Commendation Award at the Korean Government Complex in Daejeon. The commissioner of Statistics Korea, Kang Shin-Wook, presented the award on behalf of South Korea President Moon Jae-In in recognition of Lee’s substantial contribution to national industrial development through the production of reliable statistics. In addition to his position at the East-West Center, Dr. Lee is a Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. His research focuses on population aging and social welfare issues. In particular, he has investigated the linkage between population aging and the labor market, with emphasis on Asian economies.

Dr. Lee is Chair of the National Transfer Accounts (NTA) project (, a global network designed 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. National NTA teams in more than 60 countries are constructing accounts that complement the UN System of National Accounts, population data, and other important economic and demographic indicators. The NTA project was officially launched in 2004. Since that time, it has provided data to world policymakers in key areas such as social welfare, health, aging, education and gender equity. The accounts constructed by Dr. Lee and the NTA team in South Korea were officially designated as a component of Korean national statistics  in January 2019.


Drought Stories from Hawai‘i: A Workshop on Drought Recovery

Drought maps for Hawai'iOn July 23, more than 30 participants from 18 different organizations gathered at the East-West Center for a Workshop on Drought Recovery in Hawai'i. The participants discussed recent droughts, identified information sources used and actions taken for drought recovery, and assessed what information was most helpful and what actions worked best. They identified several information sources and formats that would enhance drought recovery efforts in the islands, including:

  • Drought facts and figures written for a lay audience
  • A consolidated online portal/dashboard of all historical, new, and ongoing rain gauge, satellite, and radar rainfall data
  • Sector-specific impact-based thresholds/triggers linked to rainfall amounts
  • More real-time rainfall monitoring stations statewide
  • Outreach efforts on the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and its associated impacts on drought and floods across Hawai‘i
  • More high resolution gridded drought products available for Hawai‘i (e.g., soil moisture, or the Keetch-Byram Drought Index, KBDI)

In connection with the Workshop, Abby Frazier, a Fellow in the East-West Center's Research Program, produced a timely Fact Sheet on the Economic Costs of Drought in Hawai'i.

The Workshop was sponsored by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency's (NOAA) National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS). More information is available on the NIDIS Hawaii page, the State of Hawaii Drought Page, and the U.S. Drought Monitor.


Research Program Welcomes Karena Lyons

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Karena Lyons is the Center's new Vice President, Executive Director of Research, and Director (designate) of the Pacific Islands Development Program.

The East-West Center is pleased to welcome Ambassador Karena Lyons as the Center’s new Vice President, Director of Research, and Director (designate) of the Pacific Islands Development Program. Ambassador Lyons, who joined the Center on May 29, will participate in the overall strategic and administrative leadership of the Center, as well as heading up EWC’s research division and cross-departmental Pacific Islands Initiative.

Before joining the Center, Lyons was New Zealand’s Ambassador to the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau, residing in Hawai’i where she was Consul General to the State of Hawai‘i and Envoy to the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. Previously, she served as the Foreign Policy Advisor to the New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs, as Strategist and Negotiator on the United Nations Security Council, and as a faculty member at the University of Auckland School of Law. She is a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand and holds a Master of Laws degree from the University of Auckland and the Freie Universität, Berlin, as well as Bachelor of Arts (Sociology and Politics) and Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Auckland.


Changes in Rice Farming in Mainland Southeast Asia

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Rice field near an urban center in Southeast Asia. Photo: Sumeet Saksena.

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?


East-West Center Researchers Describe Threats to Alpine Ecosystems of the Pacific Islands

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Snow-clad mountains in New Zealand. Photo: Sidney B. Westley.

East-West Center researchers Abby Frazier and Laura Brewington have recently coauthored an article on Current changes in alpine ecosystems of the Pacific Islands. Alpine ecosystems in Hawai‘i and New Zealand have significant cultural, social, and economic value; however, they are threatened by invasion of exotic species, climate change, and human impacts. Both New Zealand and Hawai‘i have experienced strong warming at higher elevations, and future projections indicate that these warming trends will continue. Glacial retreat has been noted in New Zealand's Southern Alps, with 34 percent of ice volume lost since 1977, and New Zealand may lose 88 percent of its ice volume by 2100. Snowfall on Hawai‘i’s mountain peaks is projected to almost entirely disappear by 2100. Changes are occurring rapidly, and additional monitoring and research are needed to conserve these uniquely sensitive, remote regions.


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


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

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Flooding in the Marshall Islands. Photo:

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.