U of T news
  • Follow U of T News

Climate change and the urbanization of Southeast Asia

Funding boost for geography professor's international major collaboration

(Above photo "Living on the climate change frontline in Bangladesh" by CAFOD via Flickr)

Geography professor Amrita Daniere has won a $2.5-million grant to lead an international project under the International Partnership for Sustainable Societies (IPaSS). 

Urban Climate Resilience in Southeast Asia (UCRSAP), a new multi-million dollar research partnership based at the University of Toronto, will address vulnerabilities to climate change in urbanizing areas of Southeast Asia, with the goal of enhancing resilience as well as economic and social well-being.

Daniere is co-director of the five-year partnership, which is hosted in Canada at the Asian Institute, Munk School of Global Affairs. Co-director Dr. Pakamas Thinphanga is a research scientist based at the Thailand Environmental Institute in Bangkok.

“Individual and community vulnerabilities in the region are linked to global environmental change and to the rapid pace of urbanization and economic integration of the region,” said Daniere. “Through the project, we want to provide vulnerable peoples in transitional states with the space to learn about and share in decisions about protecting themselves from the economic, social and physical impacts of climate change.”

The project established a new network of scholars and researchers working to support public forums to reduce the vulnerability of urban communities to environmental change in the region. It includes 19 researchers and 12 partners from five countries, including U of T scholars Matthew Hoffman (political science) and Dylan Jones (physics).

“Our project involves international collaboration between academics in Canada and partners located in four countries that are experiencing, and are anticipated to further experience, both rapid urbanization and the severe effects of climate change: Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.”

UCRSAP includes universities, NGOs, local organizations and local government officials engaged in multi-disciplinary partnership, combining the science of interpreting climate change’s uncertainties, risks and impacts with social science analysis from geography, anthropology and planning.

Daniere (pictured at right) applied for and won the grant while at the University of Toronto Mississauga, where she was previously vice-dean, graduate and a professor in the geography department. She moved to the downtown campus in July 2014. The $2.5 million International Partnerships for Sustainable Societies (IPaSS) grant is funded by the International Development Research Council (IDRC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada.

The IPaSS initiative supports international partnerships that produce high-quality research to inform academic, public and policy debates in ways that can help create just, inclusive and sustainable social and economic development. Four grants were awarded in 2014.