Natural Resource Governance in Asia

Myanmar PipelineThis long-term research project focuses on civil society and natural resource governance and has been funded by several grants. The aim of the project is to compare and analyse the approaches of civil society groups in promoting equitable energy and natural resource governance in ethnic minority communities in Asia, particularly Myanmar and Thailand, which will be particularly affected by climate change. The project aims to provide key insights into the relationships between activism, identity and natural resource governance in the less affluent parts of Asia, a region of increasing importance for Australia’s foreign and public policy.                                                                          
Centre Director, Dr Adam Simpson, was awarded $13,705 through a Division Research Performance Fund (DRPF) grant (2015-16) on the topic of ‘Identity and Natural Resource Governance in Asia’. In undertaking his research Dr Simpson interviewed local activists in Myanmar who were documenting the launch of the Myanmar-China Pipeline on Madae Island, Rakhine State, in early 2015 (see photo). 

Dr Simpson led another project on natural resource governance that received seeding funds ($6,975) for the HRI’s Biennial Theme, Identity Transformations, and in March-April 2014 he used a UniSA Early Career Researcher Networking Award ($6,000) to take up a Visiting Research Fellowship in the School of Politics and International Relations, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), a member of the prestigious Russell Group of UK Universities. While at QMUL Dr Simpson worked on natural resource governance in Myanmar and presented a paper at the European Consortium of Political Research Joint Sessions at the University of Salamanca, Spain, in April.  

This research contributed to a paper at the Australian Political Studies Association (APSA) Annual Conference 2014, which won the APSA Pete Hay Prize in Environmental Politics for Best Paper in Environmental Politics and Policy. At the conference Dr Simpson also co-convened an APSA-sponsored day-long workshop on The Future of Environmental Movements with Prof David Schlosberg at the University of Sydney, which was part-funded by the UniSA Human Rights and Security Cluster.

Adam Simpson presentingIn 2015 Dr Simpson presented a paper on the research from this project at the European Southeast Asian Studies Association conference at the University of Vienna, funded by an Ian Potter Foundation Grant ($2,500). He also presented a paper on the operation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in Myanmar at The Business of Transition: Law Reform, Development and Economics in Myanmar Workshop held at the UNSW Law School in November 2015 (see photo).

The work on Myanmar for this project has resulted in Dr Simpson being invited to join the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Project as a Country Expert for Myanmar for the period 2005-15. The Project is hosted by the Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg, Sweden and the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, University of Notre Dame, USA. It is funded by the EU and various government aid agencies and NGOs.

Links with Japan

In 2016 Dr Simpson will take up a 6-month Research Fellowship worth 3.3 million yen at the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University, Japan. He will be working with Assoc Prof Pavin Chachavalpongpun and Assoc Prof Yoshihiro Nakanishi on a research project entitled ‘Ethnicity and Natural Resource Governance in Myanmar’.

Photo: Environmental activists from Myanmar document the launch of the Myanmar-China Oil Pipeline. Photo by Adam Simpson.

Areas of study and research

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