Environment, Population, and Health

East-West Center collaborative research team interviews street vendors to assess air-pollution risk in Hanoi, Vietnam

Many areas in the Asia Pacific region are experiencing rapid social, economic, and environmental change. Industrialization, urbanization, economic growth, and population change—together with loss of biodiversity, modifications to coastal areas and tropical rainforests, and the effects of global climate change—all these developments make the region a “hot spot” from the perspective of global change and sustainable development.

Research at the East-West Center focuses on the changing environment in the Asia-Pacific region and on regional and global trends in population and health.

Research Staff

Research on the Environment

Traditional rice farming in the uplands of Southeast Asia faces growing pressure from expanding agro-industry

Environmental research at the East-West Center focuses on critical interactions between the environment and human society and promotes strong links between science and policy. Center scholars seek to develop regional communities of scientists, policymakers in the public and private sectors, resource managers, and community members. The goal is to conduct relevant scientific research and translate the results into useful information for regional, national, and local policymakers and communities. Within this framework, individual projects focus on current issues of regional significance, illuminate critical gaps in scientific understanding, and explore innovative approaches to establishing effective partnerships within the Asia Pacific community that will sustain both people and the environment.

Researchers are conducting environmental studies in the following priority areas.

Helping Pacific Island Communities Respond to Climate Change. The Pacific Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessment Program ( supports integrated research across the social and physical sciences to expand the options of decision-makers facing climate variability and change.

Economic Development and Land-Use Change in South and Southeast Asia. Two ongoing collaborative research projects and two recently completed projects link social-science data collected at household and community levels with remotely sensed and other spatial data to study the driving forces and multiple impacts of land-use change:

Modernization and Emerging Infectious Diseases: The Case of Avian Influenza in Vietnam. A recently completed collaborative study explored the mechanisms that underlie the emergence of new and reemerging infectious diseases, focusing on outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Vietnam.

Cities at Risk: Building Institutional Capacity for Adaptation to Climate Change in the Cities of Asia and the Pacific. The East-West Center has been involved in a collaborative project to help planners and policymakers develop climate change adaptation and resilience policies at the municipal and regional level and mainstream these policies into the existing mechanisms of government. One project activity has been the development of a five-day urban climate adaptation training course.

Exposure to Air Pollution and Health Effects in Hanoi, Vietnam. A collaborative project is conducting field environmental and socio-economic surveys and building the capacity of local researchers.

Pacific Basin Consortium for Environment and Health. The Pacific Basin Consortium for Environment and Health (PBC) provides a forum for individuals and organizations with diverse professional expertise and geographic backgrounds to develop and disseminate innovative strategies for addressing the most pressing environment and health issues of our time.

Spatial Information Laboratory. The Spatial Information Laboratory at the East-West Center endeavors to develop and increase the use of remote sensing data, geographic information systems (GIS), and global positioning system (GPS) technology for mapping and assessing environmental conditions.

Selected Publications on Environmental Issues by East-West Center Authors

Research on Population and Health

Participants analyze income data as part of a National Transfer Accounts workshop in Capetown, South Africa

The East-West Center conducts basic and applied research on critical population and health issues facing the Asia-Pacific region, offers professional education and training, and facilitates the exchange of information among policymakers, program managers, and scholars. The objective is to improve understanding of how social, economic, cultural, political, and environmental conditions interact with demographic and health trends and to contribute to the formulation of effective population, health, and development policies and programs.

Current research focuses on four important concerns:

National Transfer Accounts: Measuring the Economic Impact of Population Change. Changes in fertility and mortality can have profound economic effects on a society through changes in the population age structure.

HIV/AIDS Policy Analysis, Research, and Training. The East-West Center conducts policy analysis, research, and training on HIV with a focus on Asian-Pacific epidemics.

Policy Responses to Low Fertility: An International Comparative Study. The East-West Center recently completed a collaborative project sponsored by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs (KIHASA) to compare and evaluate policy responses to low fertility around the world.

Family change in Asia and the United States. This project examines new patterns of family formation, roles of family members, and the relationship between work and family life.

In addition, the East-West Center is a founding member of the Association of National Census and Statistics Directors of America, Asia and the Pacific (ANCSCAAP) and plays an important role in the Association's governance. The mission of the Association is to foster communication and cooperation in the collection and analysis of comprehensive statistical information on human populations and their behavior.

Selected Publications by East-West Center Authors on Population and Health