Environmental Change, Vulnerability and Governance: Projects
  • Air Quality

Raw coal and biomass, the most polluting of all fuels, make up more than three-quarters of the total burned by Asia’s population—both urban and rural. The burning of these fuels is increasingly credited with playing a major role in damaging public health and in global warming. The health, social, and economic costs of pollution in Asia exceeds $75 billion annually, and the outlook is for a doubling of some of these energy-related pollutants within a quarter-century. There is an urgent need to analyze air pollution related risks that societies face, to quantify them, and to examine their policy significance. There is also a dire need to develop tools that can help decision makers at all levels prioritize their problems and find cost-effective solutions for improving public health.

  • Water Quality and Quantity

Water is already a scarce resource in many parts of Asia. The problem is likely to worsen, based on current trends in water use coupled with projected increases in demand due to rapid economic growth. Factors contributing to the degradation of water resources include excessive abstractions from surface and groundwater sources; increasing water pollution from untreated/partially treated waste discharges from municipalities, industrial and mining operations; loss and encroachment of sensitive wetlands; unsustainable land use; and loss of aquatic biodiversity due to damaged ecosystems from altered flow regimes. We seek to develop capacity to deal with one or more of these issues.

  • Environmental Risk Management

Environmental management has always been and will likely always be characterized by decision making under conditions of uncertainty.  Experience and research indicate that effective management requires a new kind of collaboration between scientists and decision makers or managers, one which assumes a continuous, two-way flow of information and periodic evaluations and policy adjustments based on new insights that are gained from the field. We seek to develop capacity to assess vulnerability and to explore options for enhancing the resilience of governments, communities, businesses and natural resources in the region; exploring the environmental, economic and societal consequences of changes in the availability of freshwater and other resources; and the roles of institutions and information systems in improving the region’s risk management capabilities. Countries in the Asia Pacific region urgently need to analyze the options, risks and uncertainties in mitigating and adapting to environmental change and variability.

  • Natural Disasters

The majority of global natural disasters occur in the Asia Pacific region including weather related and geologic disasters. Year-to-year climate variability (e.g., El Ni