“Global food price shocks have demonstrated the urgent need to effectively address food insecurity in Southeast Asia – both at the national and regional level”

This think-piece goes beyond issues of supply and demand of food, and provides greater insight to the role of Human Security in understanding the issue of food security in a holistic manner. Click here to read the article.

 

Photo by George Reyes @ Flickr.

nukes PE commentaryThree Years after the Fukushima Nuclear disaster several Southeast Asian governments have revived their nuclear plans, with Vietnam leading the way for six nuclear plants. The moves have been galvanised by Japan’s U-turn to retain nuclear energy after initially wanting to phase out nuclear power plants after the 3-11 disaster.

Like it or not, the prospects for nuclear energy in Southeast Asia are likely to grow, thus making it necessary for governments to give sufficient attention to their public awareness strategies on nuclear energy.

Click here to read the full article [in pdf format].

Hello fellow countrymen and women,

As of about an hour ago, the PSI has hit 152 – the highest level since 2006. While I understand this is a concern to many on the island, here are my two cents worth on the issue:-

1) Please quit living in a bubble and come to terms with reality that beyond the efficient, clean and green [sterile] concrete island shores, the increasing frequency and intensity of environmental degradation/pollution/disasters/floods is real. Sh*t happens.

2) When you’re done complaining, please spare some time to think about how such adverse environmental events occur in the first place. Aside from poor governance, ineffective implementation at the local level, corruption in our neighbouring countries [the usual bla bla..], sometimes our consumerist demands for paper and other products that support our “first world” economic development is a contributing factor.

3) Perhaps we can think of alternative solutions rather than depend on the “gahmen” to fix it. There are those among us that are already doing great work in other Southeast Asian countries — whether it be in disaster relief efforts, helping to provide clean water supply and proper sanitation in remote areas, or teaching a kid to read and write. What’s stopping us from (for example) thinking of ways to possibly provide alternative sources of livelihood or new technology to poor communities that are engaged in the activities that we are forever complaining about?

A long, tedious and complex process, yes. Impossible, maybe not.

At the very least, it would be an effort to know our neighbours better and be grateful for what we have.

That is all.

Hugs and kisses from smokey Jay-Kay-Tee*.

Indonesia. Isn't it beautiful?
Indonesia. Isn’t it beautiful?

*Jakarta, Indonesia

Nuclear energy protests in the immediate wake of the Fukushima Nuclear crisis in Japan (Credit: SandoCap / flickr.)
Nuclear energy protests in the immediate wake of the Fukushima Nuclear crisis in Japan (Credit: SandoCap / flickr.)

Civil nuclear energy policy in Southeast Asia has seen sharp swings recently. Prior to the Fukushima tsunami and nuclear crisis in March 2011, several ASEAN member states had been actively pursuing nuclear energy. Fukushima compelled some to re-evaluate their plans. Thailand delayed the construction of its first nuclear power plant. In the Philippines, it became more difficult to gain public support to reactivate the Bataan nuclear reactor. Meanwhile, Japan pledged to phase out nuclear energy. Two years on, however, the momentum has reversed. Japan is now taking a more pro-nuclear stance, and some countries in Southeast Asia have revived their nuclear plans.

What is behind the rapid policy about-turn? This NTS Insight argues that while the discourse post-Fukushima has emphasised safety and energy governance, economic and strategic interests remain primary drivers of civil nuclear energy use in Southeast Asia.

To read the full article, please click here.

Another book chapter in the bag. Weeee!!!! *Alhamdulillah* 🙂

gerlach bookThis chapter is part of an edited volume that has been the result of conference papers presented at Asia-Gulf relations workshop at the 2012 Gulf Research Meeting (GRM), held at the University of Cambridge in July 2012.

The 2012 GRM was perhaps the biggest compared to previous years, with a total 20 workshops happening simultaneously over 4 days and spread out in the various colleges of the University of Cambridge. Workshops covered a wide range of topics with a focus on the Gulf Arab region, including the impact of the Arab Spring on the GCC, Gulf-Latin America relations, Women, Energy and environment, socio-economic impacts of migration, tourism, visual culture, Islamic finance, etc…  I sort of regretted not being able to slip out to sit in for the environment workshop. Oh well, next time!

It’s also fun (and somewhat freaky) to meet random individuals a few thousand miles away, and realise that you have mutual friends in other parts of the Gulf and Asia. The world is getting REALLY  small microscopic!

Following the conference, I took the opportunity to meet fellow Muslim environmentalists in Birmingham and London (which itself deserves an over-due blog post… akan datang!)

Details of the book’s contents are available here [in pdf]

A report of the 2012 Gulf Research Meeting can be found here [in pdf].

Spot TheGreenBush: 3rd Gulf Research Meeting, University of Cambridge, July 2012
Spot TheGreenBush: 3rd Gulf Research Meeting, University of Cambridge, July 2012 [Credits to the Gulf Research Center]

RSIS Centre for NTS Studies' Year in Review 2012
RSIS Centre for NTS Studies’ Year in Review 2012

Think saving the planet is that easy? Think again.

If trying to understand the complex interactions between sciences, economics, culture, politics, security and global/regional frameworks is just not working for you and you’re close to giving up, then check this out.

For the fourth year running, the RSIS Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies has released its Year in Review (2012). The Year in Review provides a snapshot of dominant NTS events/issues in 2012, particularly affecting the Asia-Pacific region.

This year’s publication focuses on the role of institutions in NTS and its feature article is on developments in Myanmar. Articles following that are based on the 5 themes: Climate, Energy, Food, Health and Water. The publication also includes a summary of activities and publications produced by the centre in 2012.

To view the report [in pdf], click here.

Bayer –  in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) – is organising its annual Bayer Young Environmental Envoy Program. Calls for 2012 application have already started.

What initially started out as a  local project in Thailand in 1998, the program has been extended to 17 other countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Venezuela and Vietnam.

Call for applications from Malaysia and Singapore are now open. For the remaining countries, do stay tuned and visit the Bayer website or their Facebook page for more updates.

Hear what one of the BYEEs from the Philippines have had to say about the programme.

Heavy rains in Thailand and Cambodia since July 2011 have resulted in high socio-economic costs from flood damage and has claimed at least 500 lives. For Thailand with areas only two metres above sea level, the flood is said to be the country’s worst in the past 50 years, with a third of its provinces declared disaster zones. However, such incidents are not all that new nor unexpected, for two main reasons:

Picture by Philip Roeland

Firstly, various studies have highlighted the increasing vulnerability of Southeast Asian countries to weather–related disasters. Among these is the Report by the International Development Research Centre, which has highlighted areas in Southeast Asia that are highly vulnerable to various environmental hazards. Similarly, other reports, such as those by the World Bank, United Nations and World Wide Fund have highlighted the socio-economic factors that increase vulnerabilities, such as rising population densities in cities. Secondly, there is existing knowledge and solutions to control floods, based on the region’s long experience with disasters. These factors are particularly significant in Southeast Asia, which is home to at least three megacities – Bangkok, Jakarta and Manila.

Yet, in spite of such information, there remains a strong dose of inertia within states to effectively integrate climate change adaptation strategies with disaster preparedness…

To read the rest of this commentary published by the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies [in pdf],  please click here.