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GCSC Seminar: Pamela McElwee, “Sustainable Development in Southeast Asia in a Post-COVID Era”
March 23, 2021 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm MDT
This talk will address how the Southeast Asian region is facing myriad sustainable development challenges, and what opportunities are available in a post-COVID world to address them. Read more about Dr. McElwee’s work. Co-sponsored with the Asia Center.
Abstract: The rapid poverty reduction and economic development experienced by the Southeast Asia (SEA) region over the last decades has been remarkable, but it has come at the cost of considerable environmental degradation. Once lauded for the regional richness of cultures, landscapes and environments, many of the economies of SEA have been built on natural resource extraction, such as timber, pulp, and paper; minerals, oil, coal and sand; fish and wildlife; and agricultural commodities like rice and palm oil, leading to deforestation, water and ocean pollution, biodiversity loss, and land degradation. Rapid urbanization has created a number of sustainability problems, with SEA recording the highest worldwide premature deaths from air pollution in recent years, and poor city planning has allowed slums to develop, floods to threaten residents, and congestion to mark life in many Southeast Asian cities. Climate change puts future economic progress at risk, given long coastlines and vulnerability to sea level rise and natural disasters among many SEA countries, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is likely to put a serious financial strain on many countries’ abilities to address these pressing challenges. This talk will take stock of recent sustainability trends in SEA and assess what future trajectories are likely to look like, with an emphasis on how to better incorporate participatory processes in sustainable development futures.
Bio: Pamela McElwee is an Associate Professor of Human Ecology at Rutgers University. She is trained as an interdisciplinary environmental scientist, with a joint Ph.D. in anthropology and forestry, and her work focuses on vulnerability of households and communities to global environmental change, including biodiversity loss, deforestation, and climate change. Her first book, Forests are Gold: Trees, People and Environmental Rule in Vietnam won the EUROSEAS prize for best social science book on Southeast Asia. She has recently completed a book titled Sustainable Development in Southeast Asia for Cambridge Elements, forthcoming later in 2021, and her next project is a book on the environmental legacies of the Vietnam War.