Researchers in Asia Take on Human Rights and Climate Change

Seventeen researchers from Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam attended a peer review workshop recently in Jakarta, part of an initiative aimed at expanding the research and writing skills of academics in Asia. Ultimately, the aim is to strengthen the capacities of academics in order to contribute to relevant policy and legal developments in the region.

The Raoul Wallenberg Institute has organized these regional initiatives before. However this year was the first time that the research topics chosen by participants all related to human rights and environment, climate change and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).

“I enjoyed every stage of this research initiative, from presentations on research methodologies given by the three experienced mentors back in April at the workshop in Bangkok, to my own paper writing and mentoring process, as well as peer review sessions at this workshop in Jakarta,” says Professor Teng Hongqing, from the South China University of Technology, College of Law.

During the workshop, all participants had the opportunity to improve their first draft papers through mentorship process prior to the Jakarta workshop. They were later able to present their papers to peers in Jakarta.

“These workshops have enabled a young scholar like me to extend research and academic networks regionally,” says Ahmad Rizky M. Umar, an Executive Secretary at the ASEAN Studies Center, at the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Universitas Gadjah Mada in Indonesia.

Umar says he’ll get the opportunity to present his paper at a large conference on global environmental politics in Sweden. After that he says he hopes to improve it and publish it in an internationally recognized academic publication.

Apart from comments on their draft papers from peers and the three mentors at the workshop, participants also learned and discussed common issues of writing a paper and skills on how to deliver a good presentation.

Knowledge Boost on the Link Between Human Rights and the Environment

Kathinka Furst, a workshop mentor and a Ph.D. Associate Director at the Environmental Research Center at Duke Kunshan University, says the participants have gained a great deal of knowledge on the relationship between human rights and the environment compared to back in April at the beginning of the course.

“Their papers showcases how many of the countries in Asia are particularly vulnerable to environmental threats, including climate change, loss of biodiversity and cross-country pollution risk, such as haze pollution,” she says.

Furst says in current debates in the region a human rights based approach to environmental protection has not been given much attention. She believes that the participants have done a great job in developing their own ideas to make improvements, suggesting how a human rights based approach to environmental protection could make a difference in the region.

The Regional Human Rights Research Initiative is financially supported by Swedish Development Cooperation.

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