Nurturing Evidence-based Solutions for a Sustainable Future in South Asia

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The South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics (SANDEE)—an initiative of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) under the Regional Programme on Mountain Knowledge and Action Networks (MKAN)— held its 35th Biannual Research and Training Workshop in Galle, Sri Lanka, from 11 to 13 June 2018. SANDEE is a research capacity-building network that aims to strengthen the capacity of individuals and institutions in South Asia to undertake research on the interlinkages between economic development, poverty, and environmental change and to disseminate practical information that can be applied to development policies.

Workshop participants with SANDEE Steering Committee members and faculty advisors at Galle in Sri Lanka.
Photo: SANDEE/ICIMOD

Twice a year, SANDEE requests research concept notes in any area of environmental and resource economics with implications for poverty and development in South Asia. The biannual workshops bring together grantees and aspiring researchers and give them a platform to present their research progress and proposals. These programmes also provide SANDEE’s faculty advisory committee an opportunity to review grantee progress and provide feedback.

Based on a call for proposals in July 2017, the faculty advisory committee recommended five research grants in the first half of 2018. From the January 2018 call, nine researchers were shortlisted from 150 applicants through a rigorous peer review process. The researchers’ presentations were made to peers and SANDEE faculty advisors. The workshop was also an opportunity for them to defend their research proposals. From this group, five research grants are made. 

Five grantees, who received grants in the first half of 2018, presented on their research progress during the event. These presentations covered a wide range of research topics relating to the environment and development issues across different South Asian countries. Short summaries are presented below:


Environmental Fallout of the White Revolution in India
--Amlan Das Gupta, OP Jindal Global University, School of Banking and Finance, India

The study explores relations between livestock production and its impact on the environment in India. It documents current and predicted future paths of methane emissions from milk production in the country. These depend heavily on the technology used in milk production. The study will emphasize on the adoption of emission reducing breeds of animals and animal-feeds and attempts to model the demand for emission reducing technologies in the country.

Amlan Das Gupta, OP Jindal Global University, School of Banking and Finance, India
Photos: SANDEE/ICIMOD

Groundwater Dynamics and Crop Choices for Sustainable Irrigation Water Management in the Northwest Region of Bangladesh
--Hasneen Jahan, Department of Agricultural Economics, Bangladesh Agricultural University, Bangladesh

The study explores the impact of changing agro-climatic factors on groundwater and crop choices in Bangladesh. It takes into account changing agro-climatic factors, the efficiency of water use, and the irrigation water market in Bangladesh in meeting the groundwater demands of its farmers.

Hasneen Jahan, Department of Agricultural Economics, Bangladesh Agricultural University, Bangladesh
Photo: SANDEE/ICIMOD

External Costs of Road Traffic Congestion in Sri Lanka
--KMR Karunarathna, Department of Economics and Statistics, Faculty of Arts, University of Paradeniya, Sri Lanka

The study deals with quantifying environmental fall-out due to road traffic congestion in Sri Lanka. It seeks to estimate the costs of extra fuel consumption, extra time loss, and extra CO2 emissions of road traffic congestion. It will highlight how road traffic congestion not only results in loss of time and fuel but also has other implications—excess fuel consumption and higher emission levels.

KMR Karunarathna, Department of Economics and Statistics, Faculty of Arts, University of Paradeniya, Sri Lanka
Photo: SANDEE/ICIMOD

Green Governance: Impact Evaluation of Environment Friendly Local Governance (EFLG) Programme in Nepal
--Bishal K Chalise, Programme and Research Officer, Niti Foundation, Nepal 

The study is an assessment of the Environment Friendly Local Governance (EFLG) Programme in Nepal, which provides financial assistance/subsides to households to undertake various environmentally friendly initiatives like the construction and installation of water-sealed toilets, solid waste segregation and disposal systems, rainwater harvesting systems, and solar-powered lights installation, among others. The study will evaluate the programme’s impact in achieving environment friendly outcomes.

Bishal K Chalise, Programme and Research Officer, Niti Foundation, Nepal
Photo: SANDEE/ICIMOD

LPG Adoption—Sustained Use and Social Impacts of the LPG Subsidy Scheme: Evidence from Natural Experiment in Bhutan
--Tshotsho, College of Natural Resources, Lobesa, Royal University of Bhutan

The study focuses on the adoption, sustained use, and social impacts of LPG subsidies in rural Bhutan. It assesses the social impacts of LPG subsidies in rural Bhutan where the distribution of subsidised LPG cylinders and fuel is administered through a lottery. The lottery presents a strong opportunity to learn about the policy effectiveness of Bhutan’s approach to the adoption, sustained use, and social impacts of the clean fuel and stove initiative.

Tshotsho, College of Natural Resources, Lobesa, Royal University of Bhutan
Photo: SANDEE/ICIMOD

These studies  will help to improve current understanding of the economics of environmental change and development, and help to build a sustainable future in South Asia. 

SANDEE organizes such research and training workshop twice a year—in June and December—to mentor early and mid-career South Asian researchers.  The next Research and Training Workshop is scheduled for 10–13 December 2018 in Kathmandu, Nepal.  A call for the summer 2019 SANDEE research grant will be disseminated in November 2018.