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Images from the sky: An alternative approach for measuring our progress




Online (Zoom)

Date & Time

25 August 2023

Application deadline: 30 June 2023

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About the workshop

The South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics (SANDEE) at the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), East- West University (EWU), and Goa University (GU) are jointly organising a one-day virtual workshop on 25 August 2023 titled “Images from the sky: alternative approach for measuring our progress,” for environmental economics research.

This workshop is part of the 12th Congress of the Asian Association for Environmental and Resource Economics (AAERE). Applicants whose papers were accepted for the AAERE conference (29–30 August 2023) will be given high priority in the selection. However, interested and eligible applicants who are not planning to attend the AAERE conference are also encouraged to apply.



There is a growing unease associated with the use of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a measure of welfare or even as a meaningful development indicator when we are facing a triple planetary crisis. The frequency with which national income information becomes available is annual in most countries and there is a varying degree of reliability of these estimates. Further, the estimates of sub-national accounts are limited. Economists are therefore turning increasingly to the use of “images from the sky” (Steve G. Manuel, 1992) as an alternative approach for measuring our progress. The workshop will explore the limitations of the conventional GDP in sustainability studies and environmental decision-making and will provide participants an opportunity to engage with alternative ways where satellite images are combined with other socioeconomic and environmental outcomes for research in environmental economics.



Mani Nepal (Programme Coordinator, SANDEE, and Lead Economist, ICIMOD) will be the course director and Manashree Newa (Programme Associate, SANDEE- ICIMOD) will be administering the workshop.


Who can apply?

To be eligible, participants must meet the following requirements:

  • A master’s degree or PhD in economics with a good understanding of basic and applied econometrics and environmental economics
  • Some experience in applying the statistical software Stata
  • An interest in learning about GIS mapping for applied research in environmental economics, along with a reasonable internet connection
  • Researchers from working areas of SANDEE and EEPSEA networks are eligible to apply
  • Priority will be given to junior to mid-career university faculty and also to researchers from think tanks, research organisations, and government agencies
  • Only researchers from Asia and those working in Asia are eligible to apply
  • Researchers with accepted papers to be presented at the AAERE conference will be given high priority

Approximately 40 participants will be invited to the workshop. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted for registration.



There will be a nominal registration fee of USD 50. Students will be expected to pay a concessional rate of USD 30 with the proof of valid student ID. Shortlisted participants will be contacted for payment of the registration fee (online) where a link for registration will be shared.


Workshop expectations

The workshop will combine lectures with hands-on training on the topics listed below. Participants are expected to have QGIS (a free and open-source GIS application) and Stata software installed on their computers prior to joining the workshop. A check-in session will be organised before the workshop to ensure the registered participants have the required software. Required data and reading materials will also be provided. The workshop is being organised online to encourage wider participation across several countries in Asia.


Topics covered
  • Limitations of GDP as a measure of economic progress and advantages of using alternative indicators such as nightlight data for investigating environmental issues with examples
  • Extraction of land use and land cover (in this case, nightlight) and other relevant data from different platforms
  • Economic analysis of environmental issues and sustainability using satellite data


Application process

Interested and eligible candidates are requested to submit their application online before 30 June 2023. Shortlisted candidates will be informed by mid-July and will need to register for their seats.

Please fill the online form here and attach a single PDF file (no more than 3 pages altogether – one-inch margin, 12-point font) containing the following:

  • A one-page cover letter indicating how this course will be useful in the applicant’s teaching and research activities; prior background in environmental economics courses; experience in GIS; and exposure to basic econometrics and Stata software
  • One-page research idea on issues related to environmental and resource economics in Asia
  • A brief CV (no more than one page) indicating age, gender, country, and professional responsibilities/activities (current job and institutional details with address); educational qualifications (highest degree/ institution/date); two most important research publications (if any); and current teaching and research responsibilities (if relevant).

If you have any difficulties in submitting the form, please write to Manashree Newa at

We request you to share this information with interested colleagues and peers.


Workshop faculty

Heena Gaude is Assistant Professor and Programme Director of Economics at the Goa Business School, Goa University, India. She teaches spatial economics analysis and macroeconomics. Her current research examines the trade-off between NDC and SDG targets through a macro level analysis of carbon sequestration and economic development of India.

A.K. Enamul Haque is Professor of Economics at East West University (Dhaka, Bangladesh), Director of the Economic Research Group, Executive Director of Asian Center for Development, member of SANDEE’s Steering and Advisory Committees, and member of the South Asian Network for Environmental Law and Policy. Haque is an environmental economist with extensive research and teaching experience in climate change, agriculture, and urban issues in developing countries with a focus on South Asia and Bangladesh. Haque has MSc and PhD degrees in resource and environmental economics from the University of Guelph, Canada.

Pranab Mukhopadhyay is Professor of Economics and Vice-Dean (Research) at the Goa Business School at Goa University, India. He is a fellow at SANDEE and INSEE, and formerly President of INSEE (2016–18). Earlier, he worked as an environmental economist for IUCN, Nepal. He currently is a co-editor of the journal Ecology, Economy, and Society — the INSEE journal. His research interests include managing commons, nature and society, sustainable development, ecosystem services, and economic growth. Mukhopadhyay studied economics at Presidency College, Calcutta and Jawaharlal Nehru University, India.

Mani Nepal is the Programme Coordinator for SANDEE and Lead Economist at ICIMOD. Earlier, he was an Associate Professor of Economics, Tribhuvan University; Distinguished Visiting Professor, Kyoto University; Visiting Assistant Professor, University of New Mexico, USA; Visiting Professor, Kathmandu University; and Adjunct Professor, Agriculture and Forestry University. He also worked as a Senior Economist at the Department of Finance and Administration, Santa Fe, New Mexico. With research interest in the intersection of development and environmental issues, Nepal is a Fulbright scholar with an MS degree in Policy Economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and PhD in Economics from the University of New Mexico, USA.


About the organising institutions

SANDEE at ICIMOD supports ICIMOD’s programmatic work and strengthens the Centre’s economic and policy analysis. It is a research capacity and academic leadership development network that works in South Asia and the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region and supports researchers from the region and institutions interested in understanding the inter-connections between economic development, the environment, and the use of natural resources through rigorous research.

East West University, rated among the top private universities of Bangladesh, is an institution that promotes eastern culture and values and meaningfully blends eastern and western thought and innovation. EWU strives to maintain high quality in both instruction and research, and render community service through dissemination of information, organisation of training programmes, and other activities.

Goa University, established in 1985, is a young public university in India located on the western coast. The National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) ranked the university at the rank-band 101-150 (2022). In the QS World University Rankings, the university is among the group of 241-250 universities in the BRICS countries, in the group of 61-65 among Indian universities, and in the group of 501-550 universities in Asia.


Time Topic
09:00–09:15 Group introduction All
09:15–09:30 Introduction to SANDEE and the workshop Mani Nepal, SANDEE Programme Coordinator and Lead Economist, ICIMOD
09:30–10:45 Limitation of GDP as a measure of economic progress and alternatives methods AK Enamul Haque, Professor and Dean, East West University
10:45–11:00 Screen break
11:00–12:30 Nighttime light data extraction at different geographical boundary Heena Gaude, Assistant Professor, Goa Business School
12:30–14:00 Lunch break
14:00–15:30 LULC data extraction at different geographical boundary and other economic data Heena Gaude, Goa Business School
15:30–15:45 Screen break
15:45–16:45 Further use of night light and other data in sustainability research Pranab Mukhopadhyay, Professor and Vice Dean, Goa Business School
16:45–17:15 Closing and evaluation Mani Nepal, ICIMOD

Manashree Newa, Program Associate – SANDEE, ICIMOD