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NTS Bulletin

NTS Bulletin November 2010 (Issue 1)

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Typhoon Megi Tears through the Philippines

Typhoon Megi hit northern Philippines on 18 October 2010, inundating affected areas and lashing residents with winds in excess of 225 kilometres per hour. While it will be some time before the full extent of the damage can be assessed, initial reports claim that the storm has left at least 36 people dead, 200,000 homeless, and caused over USD 175 million worth of damage to property. 

Philippine President Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino praised local and state government efforts to prepare for the storm, without which the human costs could have been far more devastating. Typhoon Megi weakened after crossing the large Philippine island of Luzon but still caused significant loss of life, large-scale evacuations and economic disruptions in Taiwan and southern China. 

Experiences with major weather events throughout the region have shown that the most pronounced challenges for those affected arise after the storms have passed.  Residents of the Philippines’ Cagayan Valley, for example, now face the long-term prospect of rebuilding their homes and communities, while government and aid organisations race to meet the basic needs of local populations in the immediate period. Not least among these needs is food, as Typhoon Megi is estimated to have destroyed over 105,000 metric tonnes of Philippine crops and caused still undetermined damage to local fisheries. Rebuilding and replanting  will take years to complete. The typhoon is another strong reminder of the destructive nature of the weather in Southeast Asia.

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HEALTH AND HUMAN SECURITY

News & Commentaries

Selected Publications

This first WHO report on neglected tropical diseases states that it is now possible to significantly reduce the debilitating impact of 17 neglected tropical diseases that thrive in 149 countries worldwide. The report also underlines the successes of existing interventions undertaken to mitigate the impact of diseases, recognises the challenges inherent to their effective management and control, and suggests pathways for further collaboration among national governments, the private sector, the research profession and foundations towards overcoming tropical disease challenges.

This article assesses the AIDS Vaccine for Asia Network (AVAN). The AVAN aims to facilitate the development of a regional AIDS vaccine strategy and accelerate the research and development of an AIDS vaccine through government advocacy, improved coordination and harmonisation of research. To this end, the AVAN is working to develop clinical trial and pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity along with supporting ethical and regulatory frameworks and ensuring local community participation. This article concludes by outlining the planned evolution of AVAN and the future prospects of AVAN as a network to facilitate the overcoming of AIDS in Asia.

This article summarises non-pharmaceutical public health responses to H1N1 in Japan. It identifies 10 lessons learned from the H1N1 outbreak in 2009: the need for flexible, multiple-case scenario planning; the importance of public trust; the protection of human rights; the need for effective implementation of initiatives of high-level decision-making bodies; efficient response operations; cooperation from local government; early identification of domestic patients; strategic risk communication; timely resource allocations; and criteria for school closures in the event of a widespread outbreak.

This article analyses Vietnam’s HIV policies and finds that policy developments have been driven by the state and supported with resources coming from international agencies. The authors explain that Vietnam’s HIV policy has evolved from one focused on punitive control measures to a more rights-based approach, encompassing harm reduction and payment of health insurance for medical costs of patients with HIV-related illnesses.

Events and Announcements

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CLIMATE CHANGE, ENVIRONMENTAL SECURITY AND NATURAL DISASTERS

News & Commentaries

Selected Publications

This most recent FAO forest report examines the current status and recent trends for about 90 variables covering the extent, condition, uses and values of forests and other wooded land with the aim of assessing all benefits from forest resources. The results are presented according to the seven thematic elements of sustainable forest management. The report contributes stronger overall data on global forest resources than that which existed previously. It has also led to a transparent reporting process and enhanced national capacity in developing countries for data analysis and reporting.

This article moves beyond ongoing debates over definitions of resiliency and presents a preliminary framework for assessing community-based resilience strategies. Drawing from an interdisciplinary body of theoretical and policy-oriented literature, the authors provide a definition of resilience and develop a theory of community resilience as a function of resource robustness and adaptive capacity. When fully developed, the framework will serve as a tool for guiding planning and allocating resources.

This guide has been written to summarise the evidence and to clarify the levels of confidence associated with the current scientific understanding of climate change. It clarifies what is well-known and established about the climate system, what is widely agreed upon (but with some debate on the details) and what is still not well understood.

This paper argues that both engineering and non-engineering approaches should be applied in developing climate mitigation and adaptation systems in Asia’s coastal mega-cities. It also suggests that the scientific community should work in collaboration with city officials to produce urban-planning and climate policies. Good political leadership and reliable climate change related data would be required.

Events and Announcements

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FOOD SECURITY

News & Commentaries

Selected Publications

This briefing note reviews how speculation on the prices of basic food commodities leads to food crises. It proposes some steps to prevent speculation in the commodities derivatives market. It also emphasises how such speculation is usually conducted by institutional investors who are not concerned about agricultural market fundamentals nor have the relevant expertise. It thus makes the argument that access to the commodities futures market should be restricted.

This policy brief highlights the main findings of the Expert Group Meeting on Food Security organised by the Centre for NTS Studies in August 2010. It explores the role of urban and peri-urban agriculture in reducing urban poverty and food insecurity, assesses private sector and ASEAN Integrated Food Security Management Information System (AFSIS) activities aimed at ensuring future food security in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region, and offers policy recommendations – one of which calls for Singapore to take on an active role in the regional food system. 

This report presents the findings of research undertaken in six villages in two drought-prone districts in India. The study applies gender, institutional and climate analyses to document trends in climate variability. The authors make recommendations for addressing gender issues in the context of climate change adaptation, particularly with regard to food security and farming-based livelihoods, and provide a detailed discussion of their methodological approach and tools.

This report highlights that malnutrition among children under 2 years of age is one of the leading challenges to reducing global hunger and can cause lifelong harm to health, productivity and learning potential. This report argues that to address child nutrition needs, governments should invest in effective nutrition interventions targeted at mothers and children. These interventions should focus on children in the age group that represents the window of opportunity to improve nutrition.

This report advances a comprehensive plan of action to address food insecurity and poverty in Asia. The report bases this plan of action on pragmatic approaches to public policy and the best science, with substantial input from key actors in the field. It emphasises the need for innovative partnerships to be established among governments, businesses, non-governmental organisations, and regional and international organisations.

Events and Announcements

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ENERGY AND HUMAN SECURITY

News & Commentaries

Selected Publications

The paper examines the localisation strategies of multinational companies in the wind energy sectors of China and India. The authors seek to explain the tendency for multinationals to base their research and development facilities in emerging economies such as China and India. The discussion demonstrates the importance of the role of local capabilities and skills in the global production networks of multinational companies.

As developing countries are releasing increasingly large amounts of greenhouse gases, they are under increasing pressure to reduce emissions. The report studies the case of China which has accelerated its low-carbon technology deployment at an astonishing pace. Specifically, the authors investigate the way in which low-carbon technologies have been introduced, adapted, deployed and diffused in China. The case study offers insights which enable middle- and low-income countries to develop their own low-carbon economies.

This report investigates the potential of biomass energy to close the urban-rural energy gap, raise farmer incomes and reduce environmental pollution in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). It examines the advantages and limitations of leading biomass energy technologies and resources for various distribution scales, and analyses barriers to the promotion of biomass energy. In addition, the report also provides recommendations on institutions and financing.

Events & Announcements

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Use of this article:

You are free to publish this article in its entirety or only in part in your newspapers, wire services, internet-based information networks and newsletters and you are also free to use the information in your radio-TV discussions or as a basis for discussion in different fora. We would, however, appreciate it if you could let us know when and where the article was used.

About the Centre:

The Centre for NTS Studies of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, was inaugurated by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretary-General Dr Surin Pitsuwan in May 2008. The Centre maintains research in the fields of Climate Change, Energy Security, Health Security, as well as Internal and Cross Border Conflict. It produces policy-relevant analyses aimed at furthering awareness and building capacity to address NTS issues and challenges in the Asia Pacific region and beyond. The Centre also provides a platform for scholars and policymakers within and outside Asia to discuss and analyse NTS issues in the region.

In 2009, the Centre was chosen by the MacArthur Foundation as a lead institution for the MacArthur Asia Security Initiative, to develop policy research capacity and recommend policies on the critical security challenges facing the Asia-Pacific.

The Centre is also a founding member and the Secretariat for the Consortium of Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies in Asia (NTS-Asia). More information on the Centre can be found at www.rsis.edu.sg/nts


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