IN THE NEWS: 'Powering Up Sustainable Energy for Asia'

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IN THE NEWS

By Sam Geall [Chatham House, 11 March 2019]

Asia’s cryosphere, the vast stores of frozen water in the high mountains that feed the rivers on which some 1.3 billion people depend, is warming far faster than average, an expert assessment warned recently, adding that two-thirds of Himalayan glaciers could disappear by the end of the century.

This and other warning signs make clear the need for a sustainable energy transition in Asia, not only given the urgency of mitigating climate change, but also because renewable energy technologies can help to provide cheap and reliable energy to areas where grid-based provision is unreliable or otherwise prohibited by geography or high costs.

A green transformation, if done right, can address poverty reduction goals and improve health and environmental quality. But achieving this requires rethinking many assumptions about the current system that generates and distributes electricity, and its interconnections with a genuinely sustainable society.

Read more at this link here.

This article was produced from the forum we co-organized with Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung e.V. and Chatham House on “Powering up Sustainable Development for Asia: The Future of Global and Regional Investment in Asia’s Energy Sector”, which was held in Chulalongkorn University, 25 January 2019. For more information about this forum, please visit the link here.

IN THE NEWS: Review of "The water-food-energy nexus. Power, politics and Justice"

By François Molle [Water Alternatives, 2019]

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Although water-food-energy nexus thinking can hardly claim to be new wine, the growth of 'nexus literature' in the past ten years is remarkable. It has gained currency as a buzzword with the potential to convene water experts in global jamborees, to elicit books and special journal issues, and to challenge the long-established Integrated Water Resources Management concept as the new champion of integrative imperatives.

. . .

The book does a great job at showing how a water-energy-food nexus approach emphasises demand-led technological and market solutions, downplays supply-side limits, promotes a technical and supposedly apolitical treatment of trade-offs, and largely ignores the political dimensions that shape control over, and access to, resources. But even in its reductionist form of an optimising tool for cross-sectoral planning or business, the systemic complexity that the nexus seeks to address is baffling, and it is no wonder than in practice empirical work focuses on sub-nexuses using monetary metrics.

***

Carl Middleton of CSDS is the co-author of this book.

Read full article here
Buy the Book (coming soon)

IN THE NEWS: 'Why the Mekong matters'

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IN THE NEWS:

By Sam Geall [The Third Pole, 1 November 2018]

The countries of the Mekong should build a “community of shared future”, said China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in December last year. The Lancang-Mekong Cooperative Framework (LMC) is “practical and highly effective”, he said. “We do not go after a high-profile ‘talk shop’, but a down-to-earth ‘bulldozer’”.

China has managed to cement its influence over the transboundary river in recent years, in a move that has important implications for the riverine environment and the people that rely on its resources. Its primary vehicle, or “bulldozer”, the LMC, will drive dam and development projects, special economic zones and trade.

It also illustrates China’s changing approaches to Southeast Asia – the central topic addressed recently in a policy forum The Third Pole and chinadialogue co-organised with the Centre for Social Development Studies (CSDS) and the Faculty of Political Science at Chulalongkorn University, in Bangkok.

Read more at this link here

IN THE NEWS: "Review of “Dead in the water: global lessons from the World Bank's model hydropower project in Laos”"

By Rajesh Daniel [Water Alternatives, 2018]

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In July 2018, the massive dam break of the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy dam in Laos killed more than 30 people in Laos and left thousands of people homeless in both Laos and Cambodia. The US$1 billion Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy dam was a "build-operate-transfer" project much like the Nam Theun 2 (NT2) dam.

. . .

This book provides a fascinating account of how, with the NT2, the World Bank and the GoL took the first steps on the dam-building program that has brought us to where we are now: more than 72 new large dams, 12 of which are under construction and 25 in advanced planning stages in Laos, many involving private-public partnerships.

****

Carl Middleton of CSDS contributed the chapter “Branding Dams: Nam Theun 2 and its Role in Producing the Discourse of “Sustainable Hydropower”” to the book (see here)

Buy the Book: Dead in the water: global lessons from the World Bank's model hydropower project in Laos (University of Wisconsin Press, 2018)

Read full article here.

IN THE NEWS: 'Climate disaster looms for SE Asia'

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International and regional researchers at a Panel Discussion organized by SEA Junction in Bangkok have urged governments in Southeast Asia to prioritise creating climate change resilience for their citizens, as the region faces risks of more greater and more intense natural disasters….

Referring to “Living With Floods in a Mobile Southeast Asia”, a recent publication to which researchers from SEI-Asia and Chulalongkorn University contributed, Torre stressed how policy and disaster responses centering mainly, if not only, on relocation or disaster risk mitigation are likely to fail in the long term.  To be successful in reducing vulnerabilities, these actions must consider, among others, mobility patterns and causes, livelihood strategies as well as historical sources of poverty and inequality.


Read more here

Visit our project webpage on Living with Floods in Southeast Asia here.

NETWORK: CSDS joins POLLEN political ecology network

NETWORK: CSDS joins POLLEN political ecology network

The Political Ecology Network (POLLEN) is an umbrella organization of political ecology researchers, groups, projects, networks and ‘nodes’ across the globe. It aims to provide a platform for the ‘cross fertilization’ of ideas and where the world’s many rich, diverse traditions can come together, discuss, and debate the latest developments in the field of political ecology. It also aims to function as a vehicle to promote, encourage and facilitate political ecological research with other academic fields and disciplines, as well as civil society.

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NETWORK: Advisory Committee member to Platform on Disaster Displacement

NETWORK: Advisory Committee member to Platform on Disaster Displacement

The Center for Social Development Studies is honored to be invited to the Advisory Committee of the Platform on Disaster Displacement. We aim to contribute our research and recommendations on disaster displacement, human rights and development in Southeast Asia, building on our recent studies on political ecologies of mobility.

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COLLABORATION: Disaster and Displacement through a Human Rights Lens in Asia-Pacific

COLLABORATION: Disaster and Displacement through a Human Rights Lens in Asia-Pacific

When a disaster strikes leading to people’s displacement not all are impacted in the same way, and often it is marginalized groups who are affected the hardest. The Raoul Wallenberg Institute (RWI) has initiated a regional study on the relationship between disaster and people displacement through a human rights lens in the Asia Pacific. The research is underpinned by the recognition that pre-existing patterns of discrimination can exacerbate vulnerability to disaster-related harm. The research is informed by the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights' Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and will examine how state actors fulfill their obligations to prevent displacement, protect people during displacement, and facilitate durable solutions in the aftermath. It is intended to offer recommendations on future policy and implementation across the region.

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VACANCY: Communications Coordinator

VACANCY: Communications Coordinator

Currently seeking a Communications Coordinator. This is a full-time position, to be based in our office within the Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University. The position is open to all nationalities. For the selected candidate, if non-Thai, we are able to offer a Thai visa and work permit. Appropriate training will be provided as needed.

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COLLABORATION: Sustainable Governance of the Transboundary Environmental Commons in Southeast Asia

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The Sustainable Governance of the Transboundary Environmental Commons in Southeast Asia (TECSEA) project is a new multi-disciplinary five year project based at the Asia Research Institute (ARI), National University of Singapore (NUS). Led by Professor David Taylor and Professor Jonathan Rigg, it’s goal is to further understanding of key issues in the sustainable development of the ecological commons in Southeast Asia from a transboundary governance perspective, with a focus on air and fresh water.

The research project involves a team spanning the region, including the Center for Social Development Studies as a collaborator in Thailand. We are very excited to contribute to this project, in particular on its fresh water component. With growing pressures on commons ranging from the local to the national and transnational scale, this project will contribute new insights and policy guidance at a critical decision-making juncture.

For further details on the project, visit the project’s website. An introductory article on the project is published in ARI’s March 2018 newsletter (#41) which can be downloaded here.

Contact at CSDS: Dr. Carl Middleton (Carl.Chulalongkorn@gmail.com).

Peatland in Jambi, Indonesia | Photo credit: David Taylor

Peatland in Jambi, Indonesia | Photo credit: David Taylor

IN THE NEWS: 'Salween Stories:' Nujiang, China

IN THE NEWS: 'Salween Stories:' Nujiang, China

Mae Sam Laep is located near to the Salween National Park and the Salween Wildlife Sanctuary, and was once a site of a booming timber industry. A long-time trading site, with the village established at least as early as the 1960s, it is now a place where tourists can start their journey along the Salween River, and for surrounding residents a point of departure to travel up and downstream, to Tha Ta Fang or Sob Moei villages, for instance. 

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IN THE NEWS: 'Salween Stories:' Mong Pan, Myanmar

IN THE NEWS: 'Salween Stories:' Mong Pan, Myanmar

Mae Sam Laep is located near to the Salween National Park and the Salween Wildlife Sanctuary, and was once a site of a booming timber industry. A long-time trading site, with the village established at least as early as the 1960s, it is now a place where tourists can start their journey along the Salween River, and for surrounding residents a point of departure to travel up and downstream, to Tha Ta Fang or Sob Moei villages, for instance. 

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IN THE NEWS: "'Living with Floods in a Mobile Southeast Asia': A book review"

By Andreea R. Torre [Stockholm Environment Institute Asia, 10 January 2018]

The newly published book, “Living with Floods in a Mobile Southeast Asia: A Political Ecology of Vulnerability, Migration and Environmental Change”, sets out to sensitize national and regional policy-agendas and responses to environmental disaster and climate change-related hazards – flood hazards in particular – to the complexities of human mobility in Southeast Asian contexts.

Co-edited by Carl Middleton, Rebecca Elmhirst, and Supang Chantavanich the volume uses empirical urban and rural case studies from eight different countries - Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia - to offer a nuanced and plural account of the causes and the multiple and intersecting environmental, social and political factors shaping everyday experiences of “living with floods” and mobility in the region.

Disaster responses and policy agendas centering mainly on relocation to physically safer places without considering patterns of mobility, livelihood strategies and security cannot be successful (Source: SEI Asia)

Disaster responses and policy agendas centering mainly on relocation to physically safer places without considering patterns of mobility, livelihood strategies and security cannot be successful (Source: SEI Asia)

IN THE NEWS: "Flashing cash, China spearheads Mekong economic integration"

By Marwaan Macan-Markar [Nikkei Asian Review, 12 January 2018]

Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang used a visit to Cambodia this week to strengthen China-led economic integration across mainland Southeast Asia. Li celebrated his embrace of multilateralism with an op-ed penned specially for a Cambodian newspaper, and basked in China's triumph with its five southerly neighbors, all of whom share the Mekong, Southeast Asia's longest river. 

"Being located downstream, the lower Mekong countries have long struggled to negotiate with China on its dam construction upstream," said Carl Middleton, director of the Center for Social Development Studies, at Chulalongkorn University, in Bangkok. "A weakness of the current Lancang Mekong Cooperation Framework's approach is that there appears to be little interest by China to develop specific written rules for trans-boundary water sharing."

Jinghong Hydropower Station in Yunnan province  (Source: AP)

Jinghong Hydropower Station in Yunnan province  (Source: AP)

China's determined push into mainland Southeast Asia lays bare the limits of existing Mekong initiatives supported by Japan, the U.S. and other Western nations, all of which focused on the five basin countries but shut out China. They pose little challenge to China, and are short on the verbal fireworks over another body of water in Southeast Asia -- the disputed South China Sea.

Read full article at: https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/International-Relations/Flashing-cash-China-spearheads-Mekong-economic-integration?page=1

IN THE NEWS: 'Salween Stories:' Mae Sam Laep, Thailand

IN THE NEWS: 'Salween Stories:' Mae Sam Laep, Thailand

Mae Sam Laep is located near to the Salween National Park and the Salween Wildlife Sanctuary, and was once a site of a booming timber industry. A long-time trading site, with the village established at least as early as the 1960s, it is now a place where tourists can start their journey along the Salween River, and for surrounding residents a point of departure to travel up and downstream, to Tha Ta Fang or Sob Moei villages, for instance. 

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IN THE NEWS: 'Salween Stories:' Hpa-an, Myanmar

IN THE NEWS: 'Salween Stories:' Hpa-an, Myanmar

Hpa-an town sits alongside the Salween River in the southeastern part of Myanmar. It is the capital city of Karen (Kayin) State, and home to over 400,000 people who are mostly Karen ethnicity. Surrounding the town are numerous limestone karst mountains, within some of which are located sacred caves and temples. These same mountains, however, have also attracted the mining industry, who view them as raw materials for cement production.

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IN THE NEWS: 'Salween Stories' Website Launch

IN THE NEWS: 'Salween Stories' Website Launch

There are many stories about the Salween River. Myths from long ago. The hopes and tragedies of the recent past. The present day stories of a diversity of local lives and cultures. Dreams for a better future - some shared and some dissimiliar.  

“Salween Stories” is a space to share the stories of this unique river, told by those who live alongside and passionately care about its future.

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IN THE NEWS: "One By One Big Hydropower Dams Disrupt Mekong River’s Free Flow"

By Keith Schneider [Circle of Blue, 2 August 2017]

In unfolding global energy revolution, expensive and ecologically risky dams may not be right choice to generate more electricity...

“The energy revolution is evolving around the world,” said Carl Middleton, an assistant professor of political science at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, and a scholar on Mekong River development. “This region is resisting the shift, though, because of the economics of building big new projects. But it seems inevitable that the shift will happen here. It raises questions about continuing to build so many big dams.”...

Read more at: http://www.circleofblue.org/2017/world/one-one-big-hydropower-dams-disrupt-mekong-rivers-free-flow/