Over the last four years the Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia (EEPSEA) and WorldFish have worked together to support sustainable management of natural resources in Southeast Asia.

Sustainably reducing poverty and improving food and nutrition security are vast challenges that require coordinated efforts and partnerships between organizations.

One such partnership, between the Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia (EEPSEA) and WorldFish, is supporting the sustainable management of natural resources in communities across Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Cambodia.

Many rural communities throughout these nations depend on fishing and farming, and sustainably managing the resources that underpin these livelihoods is essential for securing food, nutrition and income for millions. This is particularly important as climate change brings variations in seasonality, rainfall and extreme weather to the region.

"WorldFish became the partner of choice since one of its strategic goals is ‘sustainable management of natural resources’, which is central to EEPSEA’s work as it develops research capacity in environmental economics in Southeast Asia." - Dr. Herminia A. Francisco, EEPSEA Program Director

Funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), EEPSEA was formed in 1993 with the aim of supporting training and research in environmental and resource economics.

By providing research grants, access to mentors and literature, and opportunities for training and publishing research, EEPSEA helps to boost the capacity of local researchers in its 10 member countries with the ultimate goal of helping them provide evidence-based advice to policymakers.   

In the Philippines, this resulted in formal protection of vital mangrove forests through the “Reversion of Disused Fishpond Lease Agreements Areas to Mangrove Forests in Region IV, Philippines” project. The project made specific recommendations on how the government could revert unutilized fishpond lots in to mangroves. It also recommended protecting remaining mangroves through an integrated marine protected area.

These results were included in the country’s National Economic Development Agency’s Special Plan, “Coastal, Aquatic and Fishery Resources Development along the Influence Areas of the Visayan Sea, 2011-2020”.

Formerly hosted by IDRC in Singapore, EEPSEA began to search for a new partner to house its office and activities after the center moved their operations to New Delhi in June 2012.  

“WorldFish became the partner of choice since one of its strategic goals is ‘sustainable management of natural resources’, which is central to EEPSEA’s work as it develops research capacity in environmental economics in Southeast Asia,” explains EEPSEA’s Program Director, Dr. Herminia A. Francisco.

With two offices now hosted by WorldFish, one in Los Baños, Philippines, and the other at the center’s headquarters in Penang, Malaysia, EEPSEA and WorldFish have a thriving partnership.

In 2014, EEPSEA supported WorldFish’s work through the CGIAR Research Program on Aquatic Agricultural Systems (AAS) by funding projects including “Climate Change Adaptation in Coastal Communities of Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam”. This project analyzes how livelihoods of coastal dependent communities are affected by climate change and how they are adapting to this problem.

“EEPSEA researchers bring their economics expertise in the analysis of environmental issues facing AAS communities. On the other hand, WorldFish researchers and partners bring their science expertise and the ‘research in development’ approach,” says Herminia.

This research approach fosters deeper engagement by working hand-in-hand with local communities and partners, which Herminia believes “brings better targeted research results faster to where they matter most, the local communities.”

“This, in turn, will enhance the impact of environment economics research results in terms of improved adaptive capacity to handle environmental stresses; improved management of natural resources; and reduced environmental damage,” she adds.  
 

EEPSEA also funded another key research project in 2014 “Economic, Social and Distributional Aspects of Mariculture Parks in the Philippines”.

By providing a greater understanding of the relationships between stakeholders like fishers, fish farmers and local communities, the project will assess how each group could benefit from mariculture projects in the area.

Through combining expertise, experience and resources, EEPSEA and WorldFish continue to work towards a common goal of sustainably managing natural resources for the benefit of communities throughout Southeast Asia.