SANREM research in Southeast Asia

Globalization, Agricultural Growth and the Environment: Consolidation and Continuity of SANREM Research in Southeast Asia

Submitted by: University of Wisconsin-Madison
Funding Period: 01/30/05 – 06/30/06
Principal Investigator: Dr. Ian Coxhead, University of Wisconsin-Madison


  • Purdue University
  • Hue University, Vietnam
  • Nong Lam University, Vietnam
  • University of Philippines, Los Baños


This project will bring to fruition several activities from the SANREM II project that are now close to completion and provide continuity for ongoing initiatives in what has become a highly visible research program in the region. These activities are: (1) continue empirical research focused on economic and environmental features of commercial tree crops, especially coffee, in Vietnam and refine tools for SA and NRM policy analysis at landscape and national scales; (2) consolidate research lessons from the Philippines into a new book; and (3) transfer relevant metadata – particularly from the Philippines – from SANREM SE Asia to the management entity. In addition, at the end of the bridging period, the project will hold a regional research workshop in cooperation with host country partners.


The goal of this project is to develop and apply an integrated framework for analyzing the environmental and economic dimensions of globalization and economic reform in Vietnam and other low-income countries of Southeast Asia. An additional goal is to augment the capacity for considering economic and environmental issues within the research and policy community.


The countries of Southeast Asia have experienced rapid growth since the mid-1990s. Many are moving toward greater international economic integration through more open trade with China and the United States. Vietnam is typical: steps toward globalization are proceeding together with major shifts in domestic development policy, with some significant policy authority now devolved to provincial, district, and even commune levels. Although World Bank estimates suggest that poverty has fallen since 1992, the country faces a number of serious and growing environmental problems, including high rates of forest loss and degradation of land and other natural resources. Vietnam has one of the highest rates of deforestation in Asia, and natural forests now cover less than 20% of the country, compared with 43% in 1943.

Existing patterns of natural resource degradation caused a significant depletion of the country's natural resource wealth and increased the exposure of Vietnam to flooding, pollution, and the potential collapse of biotic systems. These problems will become more serious as high population growth between 1975 and 1990 continue to expand the labor force and cause migration into marginal areas. Providing opportunities to vulnerable groups and further integrating Vietnam into the global economy will stress many natural systems. As a result, rapid, equitable, and sustainable growth is the most important challenge facing the country.


The goal of this activity is to ensure that generalizable lessons are communicated to broader audiences through peer-reviewed publications and other forms of research output. Several new policy working papers and a series of policy briefs will be developed for distribution in Vietnam. The Rola-Coxhead book is planned for submission to a major international publisher in 2005. Several working papers and policy briefs will also be prepared on the Philippine activities.

A previous book by Shively and Coxhead on Philippine upland development builds on a decade of data gathering and analysis in the SANREM project in the southern Philippines. Whereas this book generalizes from that experience to watershed issues, a proposed book by Rola and Coxhead will present and analyze much more specific local data and cases, delving deeper into the institutional and local policy setting of the sustainable agricultural development issue – with special attention given to the question of decentralization and natural resource management.

Collating, archiving, and transferring metadata from the University of Wisconsin to Virginia Tech and other end users will be straightforward since most of what is required is already archived. The goal is to provide annotated, searchable databases of economic and environmental data for the use of researchers intending to aggregate or replicate the data.