Building Partnerships and Nurturing Connections with EPIC-Asia Seed Grants
June 9, 2022

To unite the human capital of universities in Asia with local governments and communities to improve the quality of life, advance social wealth, and support the implementation of the SDGs, START International (START) collaborated with the Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities – Network (EPIC-N) to bring the EPIC model to the continent. From 25th to 27th May 2021, EPIC-N facilitated a virtual workshop where more than 70 representatives from Asian countries participated to learn and discuss how to plan and implement EPIC model programs. Following the event, participants were encouraged to submit proposals for funding to help initiate their EPIC model program efforts. Three representatives from Thailand, three from Malaysia, two from the Philippines, and one from Indonesia, Nepal, and Vietnam received seed grants funded by START and UNEP-GAN to kick-start their first year of partnerships aligned with the EPIC model from September 2021 to February 2022 (with an extension to May 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the region).

In Thailand, the Urban Futures and Policy Research Unit, Thammasat University in Bangkok, partners with Hat Yai Municipality to work on the “Public Green Space GIS in Hat Yai Municipality” program to advance Hat Yai’s Green City initiative. During the first-year program, Urban Futures and Policy was able to expand the EPIC model to two other institutes within Thammasat University. Similarly, Chiang Mai Rajabhat University partners with Chiang Mai Municipality to work on “the Water Quality Monitoring of Chiang Mai City Moat: the Proposed Solution for Sustainable Development” project, with the municipality taking the leadership role. Lastly, the Asian Institute of Technology in Pathum Thani Province partners with Thakhlong Municipality to support the municipality’s waste management.

In Malaysia, Sultan Idris Education University collaborates with the Seberang Perai City Council, in the State of Penang, on the “Empowering Community Income Diversification through Sustainable Smart Farming by Academia Resources”. This program is in line with the Penang Green 2030 Agenda, which envisions the creation of 100 urban farms by 2030. Also, in the State of Penang and working to achieve the Penang Green 2030 Agenda, Universiti Sains Malaysia joins forces with Penang Green Council on “Zero-Waste towards a Sustainable Community” project. The third institution in Malaysia, the Universiti Kuala Lumpur team up with Alor GajarCity in the State of Melaka to work on a project entitled “Empowering the Wet Market Management”.

In the Philippines, the University of the Philippines Los Baños collaborates with the City of Calamba in the Province of Laguna to tackle climate in a project entitled, “Enhancing Disaster Preparedness of Lakeshore Communities in Calamba City, Laguna, Philippines.” Another institution,  Iloilo Science and Technology University, partners with the Municipality of Dumangas to work on “Development of an Environmental Awareness Program on Climate Change and Biodiversity Conservation for Lapus-Lapus Integrated Marine Protected Area, Municipality of Dumangas, Iloilo Province, Western Visayas Philippines” project.

In Indonesia, Politeknik Negeri Manado works with the City of Manado on a project entitled, “Development of Flood Early Warning System for the City of Manado, North Sulawesi, Indonesia.” The polytechnic also works closely with the nearby City of Tomohon, North Sulawesi. Although collaboration with Tomohon did not receive the funding, the city and the polytechnic are keen on using the EPIC model to advance their cooperation in climate change adaptation in the city.

In Nepal, a collaboration between Kathmandu University School of Management (KUSOM) Policy Lab and the City Planning Commission of Kathmandu Metropolitan City (CPC-KMC) was initiated with the seed grant to work on a project entitled the “Review of Planning Byelaws of Kathmandu Metropolitan City” in order to grasp the extent of unsustainable urban expansion of Kathmandu.

Lastly, in Vietnam, the Research Center for Rural Development, An Giang University – Vietnam National University of Ho Chi Minh City, collaborated with the City of Long Xuyen to work on “Mapping Inundation Areas for Sustainable Drainage and Waterlogging Management in Urban Areas of Long Xuyen City, An Giang Province, Vietnam’s Mekong Delta” project. The Research Centre is the city’s key partner in advancing the master plan for resilience to climate change by 2035 under the vision of “Smart Water City”.

All eleven pairs are grateful for the generosity of START and UNEP-GAN, as the seed grants have supported the establishment of strong relationships between the cities and the universities. Indeed, these eleven pairs will use what they have learned to advance their programs or create new ones to support the cities and promote the Sustainable Development Goals within their respective countries.

By: Nuttavikhom Phanthuwongpakdee (Kay), PhD
ณัฐวิคม พันธุวงศ์ภักดี (เค)
EPIC-N Asia Coordinator
Thammasat University Research Unit in Urban Futures and Policy

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