Regional Environment and Resilient Development: A deep dive into the curriculum of the new seminar by YSEALI Academy


The Public Policy Seminar, the first of four seminars organized by the YSEALI Academy at Fulbright in 2022, will take place virtually from March 14 to March 25. YSEALI Academy is still receiving applications until January 09, 2022.

Environment issues and the role of policy in Southeast Asia: A quick overview

Historically endowed with landscapes of wildlife diversity, beguiling beaches, and luxuriant forests; home to some of the most populated yet culturally vibrant and economically exciting cities in the world; Southeast Asia stands, however, as one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change. According to the Global Climate Risk Index, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Thailand are among the top 10 countries most affected by impacts of weather-related loss events from 2000 to 2019. Devastating typhoons and floods, unpredictable rain patterns and dry spells, rising sea levels and warmer temperatures  – these are the critical threats that imminently (or already) turn the lives of the region’s population of more than 640 million upside down, whose dwellings are heavily established on the countries’ elongated coastal lines. 

While carbon emissions in Southeast Asia are comparatively lower than that of developed countries in Asia, the acceleration of economic development and urbanization – which entails rising energy demands of coal and oil-fired power plants, deforestation, air pollution, water and food wastes  – has put the region under contentious strains between temporal prosperity and generational sustainability.

The importance of policy – in favor of solving national and regional environmental challenges, while securing and advancing the livelihoods of our people, and at the same time, preserving our precious natural resources and ensuring the future of our next generations – in this case, is not simply restricted to the court of public opinion or solely ascribed to the few hands of elected government officials. An effective environmental policy can be analyzed, drafted, implemented, and committed from members within any organization – not only public agencies  – but also from private international corporations to local businesses and nonprofit institutions, in order to spark positive change from the ground up. 

What are the critical steps to implement a deliverable policy within your organization? What are the most pressing environmental issues that the countries of Southeast Asia are facing at the moment? How will these issues affect us all? How can we hone our leadership skills in order to speak, communicate, and effectively convince stakeholders of the problems and the plans we aim to solve these issues? It is at the YSEALI Academy’s Public Policy seminar that we hope you’ll be informed, inspired, and endeavor to change the world.    

The Public Policy Seminar on Regional Environment and Resilient Development: A deep dive into the curriculum

The aim of the two-week Public Policy seminar on “Regional Environment and Resilient Development” is to provide young professionals and future leaders from Southeast Asia with an overview of environmental challenges to Southeast Asia and how to cope with them by (and for) resilient development. 

With interactive lectures, panel discussions and leadership workshops, the seminar will be academically rigorous yet experientially practical to the Fellow’s future endeavors. The seminar’s curriculum – developed and delivered by faculty from Fulbright, international and regional academic scholars from leading universities, and industry experts from MNCs with diverse experiences of the region – will provide Fellows with once-in-a-lifetime, intensive discussion with the most prominent names in the field. In 2021, the YSEALI Academy was honored to have distinguished speakers such as Nobel Laureate, Professor Muhammad Yunus; world-renowned computational psychologist Sandra Matz; and Stephanie Davis, Vice President of Google Southeast Asia; among many others, to deliver inspiring and insightful talks during the course of our seminars. 

At the upcoming seminar on “Regional Environment and Resilient Development”, critical environmental issues facing Southeast Asia will be explored through economic and policymaking perspectives. Prominent speakers will include Dr. David Dapice and Professor Edward Cunningham of Harvard Kennedy School;  Professor Edmund Malesky of Duke University; Professor Wil Burns of  Northwestern University; and Brian Eyler, Energy, Water, Sustainability Program Director, Southeast Asia Program Director, The Stimson Center; among many others. At such, the seminar will be divided into four topics:

– Introduction, macroeconomic frameworks, and policy tools for environmental management and resilient development. This section introduces frameworks and policy tools to examine and analyze environmental issues in Southeast Asia. It will also address the approaches to cope with environmental challenges through resilient development e.g. carbon intensity in exports, carbon tax, nature conservation and biodiversity, sustainable cities or agriculture.

– Environmental trends, issues, and resilient development. This part provides an overview of the Southeast Asian environmental landscape, including emerging trends, issues, and policies for resilient development.

– Air, soil, and water environment: from the Lower Mekong Region to the South China Sea. This section deep dive into various environmental problems extending from the Lower Mekong Region to the South China Sea. It will analyze pertinent challenges to the air, soil and water environment, including impacts of coal-power plants, waste management, upstream hydropower projects, water security, water governance, coastal environment, marine ecology.

– Climate change in the 21st century: Past observation, future projection, and potential impacts. This part focuses on climate change and related themes such as emission, global warming, sea level rise as well as their impacts on Southeast Asia, particularly the coastal cities and regions. It will also address Southeast Asian/ASEAN cooperation on environment and the COP 26 meeting.

The YSEALI Academy at Fulbright: A platform for future leaders of Southeast Asia to connect and build a better future together

Launched in 2013, the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) is the U.S. government’s signature program to strengthen leadership development and networking in Southeast Asia. YSEALI seeks to build the leadership capabilities of youth in the region, strengthen ties between the United States and Southeast Asia, and nurture an ASEAN community. 

Over the next 5 years, the YSEALI Academy at Fulbright aims to deliver 16-20 high-quality seminars to rising leaders (Fellows) across Southeast Asia. Centered on the main themes of technology & innovation, public policy, and entrepreneurship, these seminars will address challenging issues facing the region, while creating lasting professional relationships between Fellows of different nationalities and fostering skills which can be applied in their careers.

From Nuzulia Fajriningrum, a YSEALI alumni from Indonesia who participated in 2021’s seminar on Energy Economics and Policy: “The seminar exposed me to a brand-new perspective and enriched my capacity on energy, economics, and policy. Not only did the lecturers share knowledge as leading experts in the energy sector, but they also gave clear explanations and practical approaches for us to thoroughly comprehend the topics.”

Dr. Sheena Ramazanu, a YSEALI fellow from Singapore, remarked: “One thing that I will always keep in my heart is the network of people who we meet in our life, how essential they are. In other words, your network is your net worth. To solve a particular world problem, it will not be possible if we work in silos. When we come together from Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar or the Philippines, we’re not only representing our countries. Beyond that, we’re sharing an ASEAN identity.”

Lai Cheng Wong from Malaysia, said: “I’m thankful that YSEALI Academy at Fulbright University Vietnam put me in a team with a group of  people with different backgrounds and interests. They were right. A team with diverse interests and different cultural values offers a wide range of thought processes and perspectives. So don’t fear conflict, welcome it for its innovative power. There is a very powerful source for learning and innovation that comes into play when different people come together.”

Key information for the YSEALI Academy’s Public Policy Seminar on Regional Environment and Resilient Development 

The Public Policy seminar on Regional Environment and Resilient Development will be open to 35 YSEALI fellows who are young professionals with interests in environmental development, environmental science and sustainability. Once selected, all participants will be fully funded by the U.S. Department of State. 

Joining this seminar, Fellows are expected to commit at least 36 hours for online activities and approximately 12 additional hours for individual and group assignments over a period of 2 weeks. Therefore, participants are recommended to take two working weeks off their ordinary work duties or other commitments to participate efficiently in and achieve the most from the Seminar.

Seminar schedule:

  • Enrollment: December 13, 2021 – January 9, 2022 
  • Participant selection announced: February 8, 2022 
  • Seminar dates: March 14 – 25, 2022 (two weeks, ten working days, Monday – Friday) 

To find out more about the seminar program:

 To apply: 

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