Strengthening of Environmental Research and Management: A Case Study of a Freshwater Shallow Lake

NEAJ Proceedings
Article ID: 201901
Title: Strengthening of Environmental Research and Management: A Case Study of a Freshwater Shallow Lake
Authors: Rajendra Khanal and Chihiro Yoshimura
Tokyo Institute of Technology

Keywords: Appraisal, Co-design, Environmental conservation, Evidence-based discussion, Expert platform, Lake environment, Meta-analysis, Policy synthesis, Systematic review, Transdisciplinary research

This presentation reports the policy and knowledge synthesis framework of the Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS – JST/JICA: grant-number JPMJSA1503) project on establishment of environmental conservation platform of Tonle Sap Lake. The goal of the project is to strengthen environmental research and management by enhancing evidence-based research and capacity development. The principle objectives include, i) to establish the state-of-the-art research-oriented structures and facilities ii) to promote science-based management to the government of Cambodia, and iii) to develop the Tonle Sap Water Environmental Platform, and make it as one of the benchmarks in freshwater ecology and management studies in Southeast Asia.
Urbanization, population growth, human resources and political stability have an impact on policy formulation for environmental conservation. Considering the priority of economic development in developing countries, a trade-off must be set up balancing environmental degradation, mitigation and capacity development. The classical approach of policy formulation in most of the developing countries lies on the intuition of the politicians or the political agendas, which more often than not are not adequately supported by the fact and evidences. Under ideal circumstances, policy formulation requires a holistic approach of inclusivity, rigorousness, transparency and accessibility. However, no policies are ideal, and no single policy fits for all. Hence, it is required to undertake systematic knowledge synthesis, to provide an option of different course of policy formulation based on target area, cost, effectiveness, biasness, unintended effect, feasibility, acceptability and sustainability. In addition, to formulate new policies, substantial evidence of the past, and expected projection for the future needs to be analysed. In this project, a huge database, both in scientific and grey publication are being analyzed from wide range of perspectives, which includes, hydrology, hydrodynamics, water quality, pollutants, and risk assessment. The current activities taken in the project includes, intensive monitoring of the lake, strengthening of analytical laboratories, governance, meeting, workshops, symposiums, and technical capacity development. In addition, primary data are also being analyzed through public survey, high level policy discussion, modelling and laboratory analysis. It is being analyzed from holistic approach about the possible action and reactions of environmental conservation. Based on the feedback of the trans-disciplinary research team, various meetings and possible future scenarios, recommendations are made for the environmental conservation of the TSL.
Some of the policy recommendations for the environmental conservation includes, long term monitoring based on field survey and remote sensing, setting up of standard of water qualities depending on intended use and continual improvement, regulation of pesticides use in agriculture, health and sanitation of people living in the floating community, policy guidebook, and mutual cooperation of concerned stakeholders in achieving the common goal of environmental sustainability. However, the biggest problem in strengthening research and administrative capacity of the developing countries seems to be the dependency threat, whereby partner institute commitments on sustainability after the completion of the project is restricted by the limited support on maintenance of the advanced instruments, retention of the skilled human resources, and implementation of the policies.

Profile of the presenting author:
Dr. Rajendra Khanal is a certified Environmental Leader, a qualified Food Technologist and an experienced Environmental Engineer. He has PhD in Urban Engineering from the University of Tokyo, Japan, and over 10 years of professional working experience with the techno-managerial, policy research, capacity building, university-level teaching, programme development, project management, environmental risk assessment, and environmental leadership. His field of specialization is water quality modelling, environment toxicology, urban drainage, climate change models, and environmental management. His recent activities and detailed profiles can be accessed in following URL.

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