Living Deltas

The Living Deltas Research Hub is funded for five years (2019-2024) and operates across four delta systems – Red River, Mekong deltas in Vietnam; the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna system in Bangladesh and India. We call these socio-ecological systems. The Living Deltas Hub’s AIM is to tackle the problem of delta degradation in the face of multiple threats (sea level rise and saline intrusion, mangrove degradation and loss of coastal buffering, climate change, population rise, land use changes, saline intrusion and communities health and well-being, unsustainable engineering interventions: damming, sand mining etc.). GCRF also aims at helping to delta countries to better achieve their UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Voluntary National Review agendas. The Hub aims to achieve its objectives via a process of CAPACITY-BUILDING though EQUITABLE PARTNERSHIP – only by doing this will the Hub have legacy beyond its five-year funding period. As such, this is an extremely ambitious research program – the most ambitious that the UK Research Councils have done up to now. The Hub is truly interdisciplinary and brings together the natural and physical sciences, the social sciences and the arts & humanities on an equal basis to seek new solutions (building on the research already carried out in the delta countries) to complex, intertwined issues through capacity-building and knowledge co-production towards BETTER DELTA FUTURES.

Keywords: Delta, Sustainability, Resilience, equitable livelihoods, socio-ecological systems

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Strengthening Groundwater Governance in Rapidly Urbanizing Areas of the Lower Mekong Region

Groundwater plays a crucial role in the water security, poverty reduction and sustainable development of the Mekong region. However, in many countries either the groundwater is under-utilized or over exploited and at the same time affected by multiple stresses such as rapid urbanization, population growth, climate change and climate variability. Lack of good groundwater governance, absence of groundwater policies and laws, groundwater institutions, stakeholders’ participation and fragmented groundwater management with other aspects of socio-economic developments led to unsustainable management of groundwater in the Mekong region. The unsustainable management groundwater in the region, especially in rapidly urbanizing areas bring conflict among different sectors and vulnerable population such as poor, marginalized and ethnic people. Therefore, this project aims to evaluate the current state of groundwater governance in the region and recommend ways to improve or strengthen the groundwater governance based on evidence-based understanding of groundwater availability, its use and potential conflicts under multiple stresses in the future. The project is implemented through four case studies in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

Keywords water insecurity, human rights, conflict sensitivity, groundwater institutional and policy framework

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Cities by Women: Embedding Climate Change Resilience in Himalayan Cities

The research focuses on gender mainstreaming in the nexus of climate change, land use, and informal livelihoods in Himalayan cities. Expected activities include:
1) survey and mapping to examine how women in informal settlements use the urban spaces for their livelihoods and what the impacts of climate change on their daily activities are;
2) stakeholder workshop and networking to address and inform the urban policy about women’s role in building climate change resilience in Himalayan cities.

Keywords Gender, Climate change, Informal livelihood, Urban space, Urban planning

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Delivery of Training Program for Technology Clinic for Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Thailand

The project was initiated based on the request from the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) which is the operational arm of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Technology Mechanism and hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and supported by 11 partner institutions with expertise in climate technologies. This CTCN Assistance project is intended to deliver a training program on a Technology Clinic for SMEs (= SME Clinic) in Thailand in its agro-food processing sector. The project will undertake the following key activities: (i) preparation and finalization of training program; (ii) development of training materials; (iii) organization of an SME Clinic workshop; and (iv) preparation of a synthesis report and recommendations based on the workshop outcomes. The clinic workshop will cover topics to build the capacities of SMEs to a) acquire and streamline specific climate technologies into their processes; b) apply new business models; c) upgrade or develop new products or services; and d) develop business plans or proposals. The training material will cover, but not limited to, the transfer and commercialization of precision farming technologies for SMEs in agro-food sector, and discuss business case studies that demonstrate good practices relevant to the training program. These will be used to provide concrete examples on successful climate technology transfers from other countries and to provide ideas and guidance to participants in preparing their strategic action plans.

Keywords SME, capacity building, agriculture, food processing, business model, climate change

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Investigating the Miraculous Growth of the Thai Cassava Processing Industry

Thailand is the world’s No.1 exporter of processed cassava products, especially tapioca starch powder. Any other country pales in comparison. While it is well known that tapioca production and export have grown dramatically over the last several decades in Thailand, it is not widely known why this industry has grown so successfully only in Thailand. Our major research question is whether the growth and development of this industry were driven by substantial foreign direct investment. Qualitative interviews with selected factories were conducted in in Nakhon Ratchasima Province in November 2019. To further investigate the mechanism of growth, the project will conduct a structured questionnaire survey with owners and/or managing directors of various cassava processing factories in the nation in partnership with the Thai Tapioca Starch Association. Through the survey, we will collect information on their profile, practices, performance, relationship with other value chain actors as well as the Tapioca Starch Association. the operation size at present and in the past, sources of technology and market information, history of mergers and acquisitions, composition of nationalities of capital, and constraints on further growth.

Keywords industrial growth, cassava, tapioca, foreign direct investment, technology transfer

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What is Essential is Invisible’: Empowerment and Security in Economic Projects for Low-Income Women in Four Mekong Countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam)

This research project, using both qualitative and quantitative data collection methods, focused on women’s economic empowerment and social protection projects in four Mekong countries: Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam. It involved an exploration of the gaps between the level of policy makers and intended beneficiaries in terms of their conceptions of the ideas of empowerment and security and their perceptions of what is happening on the ‘ground’. In addition, the research examined under what conditions empowerment (as locally defined) and an increase in a sense of security (again, as locally defined) came as a result of economic empowerment and social protection projects, and under what conditions there was no such apparent benefit – or even negative effects – in spite of the well-meaning intentions of the projects. One key finding is that empowerment is not a single recipe, it needs to be contextualized, and that for a large number of low income women in the four countries, empowerment was a social or relational process, an aspect of empowerment often neglected by donors and development practitioners.

Keywords Economic Empowerment, Income, Gender, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Vietnam

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Trade Hub

Thousands of species are threatened globally with extinction, there has been a swift decline in biodiversity and ecosystem resilience and people are being kept in poverty as trade in wildlife and agricultural commodities from low and middle-income countries has rapidly increased. The Trade Hub includes economists, trade modellers, political scientists, ecologists, development scientists, large companies, UN bodies and NGOs who will work together across supply chains to influence trade related policy and practice. It will also produce research to help ensure that trade becomes a driver of positive change in the world, with biodiversity loss halted and people permanently lifted out of poverty. The Hub will select trades that are already having, of have the potential to have, a major impact on biodiversity, as well as those that are important for local livelihoods:

  • bamboo and rattan
  • live animals
  • skins of animals
  • wild meatocoa
  • coffee
  • palm oil
  • rubber
  • soy beans
  • sugar

Emerging trades, for example in crops such as bush mango and the African cherry, will also be studied as examples of wild-sourced species that are being gradually domesticated into agricultural systems. These various trades will be studied within eight countries, chosen for being in different stages of economic development as well as producing a wide range of wildlife and agricultural products: Brazil, China, Cameroon, Gabon, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, and Indonesia. The project will study how different systems of trade have affected biodiversity from a biophysical, social, political and economic point of view, and trace the impact of the supply chain all the way from supplier to consumer countries via trading companies. As well as feeding into public policy advice, this research will also help companies understand their products’ true environmental impact all the way back to the raw materials.

Keywords Trade, Brexit, Sustainability, Biodiversity, Equitable Growth

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Migration and collectives/ networks as a pathways out of poverty: Gendered vulnerabilities and capabilities of fishing communities in Asia

The project studied migration in fishing communities in Cambodia, India and Sri Lanka. It explored how migration is used as a strategy to manage diminishing fishing resources and the deprivation that fishers are facing vis a vis large players in fishing. In Cambodia, it demonstrated how women play a crucial role in sustaining fishing as a profession for the household.

Keywords gender, fisheries, migration, poverty, vulnerabilities, Cambodia

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