Hoan Kiem Lake 

Reimagining Public Space in Crowded Hanoi

October 26, 2016


On the evening of Sep. 1, 2016, the normal onslaught of motorcycles circling around Hoan Kiem Lake in Central Hanoi had disappeared. In crowded inner city Hanoi, many homes are small, lack light and air, and are desperately hot. A motorcycle ride around the city, especially around Hoan Kiem Lake, gives many a bit of a breeze in a green space, albei… Read more

Downtown Beijing 

Northeast Asia in Transformation: The Future of the Region and the Role of the United States

October 26, 2016


Northeast Asia is the economic and geopolitical region comprising China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Mongolia, and Russia’s far east, all of which stood at the forefront of the Cold War. Unlike other regions, which quickly recovered after the end of the Cold War, Northeast Asia was left with a series of enduring stalemates—the Korean Peninsula… Read more

Habitat III 

5 Takeaways from Quito and the New Urban Agenda

October 26, 2016


After a stimulating four days, the Habitat III conference held in Quito, Ecuador, ended last week with the adoption of a New Urban Agenda (NUA)—a set of global guidelines that lays out a vision for achieving sustainable urban development. The pavilion of the Habitat III conference in Quito. Photo/Mark Koening I was one of 10,000 international parti… Read more


Habitat III: Charting a New Urban Agenda

October 12, 2016


Next week, an estimated 40,000 people are expected to descend on Quito, Ecuador, for Habitat III, the third-ever United Nations conference on housing and sustainable urban development. Government delegations led by ministers and city mayors will engage with leading academics, civil society leaders, private sector actors, and urban planners to asses… Read more

Downtown Manila 

Can Asian Cities Lead the Way to a More Sustainable Future?

September 21, 2016


Asia’s urban population is growing at an unprecedented rate. It took 130 years for London to grow from 1 million to 8 million, but Bangkok did it in 45 years, Dhaka in 37 years, and Seoul in only 25 years. Asia’s rapid urbanization—driven by entrepreneurial and commercial dynamism—has been pivotal for its stellar growth, but often to the detriment… Read more

Youth Civic Engagement in Bangladesh 

Six Pressing Issues in Asia and How We’re Adapting Our Approach to Address Them

September 6, 2016


Today, 60 percent of the world’s population lives in Asia – with 40 percent concentrated in China and India alone – and the region will continue to host the majority of the world’s population through 2050. Over the past two decades, economic growth has helped lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, and 56 percent of developing Asia’s po… Read more

Garbage in Cambodia 

Poor Waste Management Threatens Phnom Penh

July 27, 2016


As more rural residents move to Phnom Penh in search of work, the city’s population has nearly doubled over the last decade. Estimates suggest it could reach 2.9 million by 2025. Meanwhile, new construction projects have driven thousands of urban poor out of the city center to peri-urban areas where services are few or non-existent. Cambodia’s capi… Read more

Drone surveying in Philippines 

Using Drone Technology to Improve Land Titling in the Philippines

June 29, 2016


Last week, the Philippines’ incoming Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez announced the new administration’s 10-point economic agenda. One of the top items was improving security of land tenure to encourage greater investment and address bottlenecks in land management and titling agencies – longtime challenges that have held the country back from mor… Read more


Late Changes to Mongolia’s Election Law Raise Concerns Ahead of Next Week’s Polls

June 22, 2016


On June 29, Mongolians will cast their vote for a new parliament, the State Great Khural, for the seventh time since the country’s first democratic election in 1992. The election process in Mongolia has always been reasonably free and fair with no concrete evidence of electoral fraud, and with a relatively high turnout. However, since the 1992 elec… Read more

PM Modi Make in India poster 

India’s Economy Booming, But Critics Warn of ‘Excessive Enthusiasm’

June 15, 2016


Move over China, India is officially the world’s fastest growing major economy. According to the government’s latest economic figures, India’s economy grew at 7.9 percent in the March quarter, up from 7.6 percent in fiscal year 2015-2016. During a period of global economic slowdown, India’s economic performance is impressive, and even more so given… Read more


Safetipin: A Tool to Build Safer Cities for Women

May 11, 2016


The gang rape of a 23-year-old woman on a New Delhi bus in 2012 sparked national outrage in India. Since then, other brutal acts of violence have taken place in India’s cities, including the rape and murder of a 30-year-old law student on April 28 in Kerala. There were 337,922 reported crimes against women in 2014, among them over 36,000 were rape…. Read more


Can Technology Transform Governance in India?

March 30, 2016


A group of engineering students trudge up the stairs of an engineering college in the heart of Bangalore’s swanky Electronics City. Flip-flops beat against tiled floors, fingers run through bed-head hair. These bright minds are partly behind India’s unprecedented growth over the last two decades: the young tech-elite who power Indian technology’s heavy hitters like Infosys (whose sprawling campus is across the street), and run global giants like Google and Microsoft. As they fire up their laptops and plug in their headphones, these 50-odd data scientists, software engineers, and computer scientists are turning their attention toward something normally considered beyond their realm.


For Women Living Alone in Delhi, Security Concerns Heightened

March 2, 2016


On Monday, Delhi Police Commissioner Alok Verma called on Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to discuss pressing issues concerning law and order in the city. With eight out of 10 women in Delhi fearing for their safety, it is encouraging that the new commissioner views strengthening women’s security as a priority.


Cloaked in Smog, Delhi Initiates Odd-Even Experiment

January 13, 2016


Winter is unmistakable in New Delhi for the ubiquitous pall of smog – a noxious combination of fog and smoke – that blankets the city. On most days, it’s hard to see beyond a few metres, with buildings, roads, and highways partially, if not completely, obscured. In 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Delhi…


Best of the Blog 2015

December 23, 2015


Season’s Greetings! On behalf of In Asia’s editorial board and bloggers, we thank you for your engagement and continued readership throughout the year. This week we feature a countdown of the year’s most-read pieces: our top 10 blog posts on some of the most pressing events and issues in Asia throughout 2015. We return on January 6 with the first issue of 2016.


Why India Could Make or Break the Success of SDGs

October 14, 2015


Speaking at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in New York last month, Prime Minister Modi expressed the Indian government’s commitment to the new Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs), which replace the Millennium Development Goals that expired in 2015.


Urbanization, Smart Cities, and the “Sludge Judge” – A Conversation with Dr. Isher Judge Ahluwalia

June 10, 2015


In Asia sat down recently with renowned Indian economist Dr. Isher Judge Ahluwalia, The Asia Foundation’s latest Chang-Lin Tien Distinguished Visitor, during her American visit. Dr. Ahluwalia is chairperson of the board of governors for the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations in New Delhi, where she is leading a…


A Conversation with Dr. Rajiv Shah

April 29, 2015


Recently retired after five years at the helm of USAID, Rajiv Shah brought new energy and improved morale, and earned bipartisan Congressional support as director of the United States’ premier development agency. Shah emphasized measurement, transparency, and outcomes in development spending, and he championed the idea that development dollars should build local institutions within developing countries.


A Conversation with KDI’s Joon-Kyung Kim on Korea’s Growth Potential

February 25, 2015


Last week, Joon-Kyung Kim, president of leading economic policy think tank, the Korea Development Institute (KDI) and the KDI School of Public Policy and Management, visited The Asia Foundation’s headquarters in San Francisco for a signing ceremony to extend the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)…


Is Phnom Penh Losing its Luster under Rapid Urbanization?

February 18, 2015


There were around 32,000 people living in Phnom Penh when the Pol Pot regime was expelled from the city in 1978. Today, there are over 2 million people crammed into Cambodia’s capital, growing by an estimated 50,000 people each year.


Trends That Will Shape Asia’s Economic Future (Part 2)

February 11, 2015


In last week’s blog, I highlighted four top trends to look out for in Asia’s economic future, including: Asia as the driver of growth, the growing tide of inequality and disparity, Asia’s trendsetters, and regional integration and regional fragmentation. Here are four more top trends to watch…


Trends That Will Shape Asia’s Economic Future (Part 1)

February 4, 2015


Last month, the International Labour Organization (ILO) announced troubling global trends in unemployment, which is expected to worsen in the coming years. According to its 2015 Employment and Social Outlook report, young workers aged 15-24 are particularly hard hit by the crisis, and Asia is home to the largest number of these young people.


Asia’s Cities Poised to Lead in Climate Change Adaptation

January 28, 2015


With support from the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities challenge, a number of cities across Asia are beginning to confront the impacts of climate change. Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, recently selected as one of Resilient Cities’ newest member cities and home to 1.5 million people, is one. Due to its low elevation and proximity to the Mekong River…


Can Mongolia’s Digital Revolution Help Meet Service Delivery Challenges?

January 28, 2015


Last month, Mongolia celebrated the 25th anniversary of its democratic revolution, a moment that would catapult the country’s transformation from a communist regime to a dynamic power in the region. But more recently – and more quietly – the country has also been undergoing a digital revolution.


Uber Rape Case Reignites Debate over Women’s Security in India

December 17, 2014


On Friday evening, December 5, a young woman, just finishing work in Gurgaon, India (a satellite city which is part of the larger National Capital Region), goes to meet her friends at a pub in South Delhi, and decides to call an Uber home. This chain of events is typical of what many young professionals…


Mapping Mongolia’s Urban Ger Areas in Ulaanbaatar

December 17, 2014


Infrastructure in Mongolia’s sprawling capital Ulaanbaatar has not kept up with the rapid growth of unplanned ger areas within the city, leading to harsh conditions for newcomers. 1.5 million people now live in Ulaanbaatar, more than twice as many as the city was built to sustain. Since July 2012, The Asia Foundation has been implementing an urban services project…


Leveling the Playing Field for China’s Migrant Women Entrepreneurs

December 3, 2014


On this year’s Singles’ Day Sale in China – one of the largest online shopping days in the world – the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba reported sales of more than $9 billion within 24 hours. Just weeks earlier, Alibaba had the largest IPO in U.S. history…


G20 Leaders Pledge Inclusive Growth for Women: More Promises or Real Possibility?

December 3, 2014


Under the blazing heat of Brisbane on Sunday, November 16, leaders of the 20 countries with the highest GDPs in the world released a joint communiqué focusing on economic concerns, highlighting plans to increase global economic growth, create jobs, increase trade…


New Report Examines Urbanization and Technology

December 3, 2014


By 2020, half of Asia’s population will live in urban areas. The region faces big challenges related to this rapid urbanization, including congestion, pollution, rising urban poverty, and squatter settlements. While the challenges are numerous, the dynamism of Asia’s cities also creates significant opportunities for generating innovative solutions…. Read more


Water Festival Highlights Phnom Penh’s Mounting Waste Management Problems

November 5, 2014


Every year as the monsoon rains in Cambodia ease and the Mekong River’s flow subsides, the largest lake in Cambodia, the Tonle Sap, begins its annual drain of the Central Cambodian flood plain. The Tonle Sap is a unique lake/river system in the world…


Q&A with Leading China Expert, Asia Foundation Trustee Elizabeth Economy

October 29, 2014


In Asia editor Alma Freeman recently sat down with new Asia Foundation trustee Elizabeth Economy, Council on Foreign Relations’ C.V. Starr Senior Fellow and director for Asia Studies, to discuss China’s environmental challenges, the country’s role as a donor, and her new book co-authored with Michael Levi…


Asia Foundation, Ulaanbaatar City Host Mapping Event

October 24, 2014


On Oct. 25, The Asia Foundation and the City Municipality of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, host a mapping “edit-a-thon” to bring together experienced map editors and newcomers to learn how to use aerial imagery and open source tools like OpenStreetMap to develop a more complete and accurate, open, online, free map of Ulaanbaatar. Much of the city has yet… Read more


Accurately Mapping Mongolia’s Sprawling Capital With Satellite Imagery

October 15, 2014


Almost 60 percent of the population of Mongolia’s sprawling capital, Ulaanbaatar, lives in informal settlements, known as ger areas. In 1989, 26.8 percent of Mongolia’s population lived in Ulaanbaatar; by 2006 that number had risen to 38.1 percent; and by the 2010 census, 45 percent of Mongolia’s population lived in the capital.


Mongolia’s Capital Leads Charge to Improve Transparency and Fight Corruption

October 8, 2014


Ahead of a major forum on transparency and corruption in Mongolia’s capital of Ulaanbaatar this week, Capital City Governor and Mayor Bat-Uul Erdene set the tone for the discussions: “In Mongolia, corruption is so common that it has become a kind of social norm.” …


Bill Puts Brakes on Emergence of Indonesia’s New Local Leaders: A View from Surabaya

October 1, 2014


On September 26, the House of Representatives passed a bill that took away Indonesians’ right to vote for governors, mayors, and district heads, and gave it to the corresponding regional legislative bodies. Since then, Indonesians have expressed concern that the decision is likely to put the brakes on the emergence…


Water Scarcity a Threat to Mongolia’s Sustainable Development

September 17, 2014


A new report from the Asian Development Bank sent a warning signal to Mongolia that, despite its wealth of natural resources and pristine image, the country faces a severe water scarcity and quality crisis – one that could leave its growing capital…


Photo Blog: Critical Issue – Climate Change & Water Resource Management

September 17, 2014


Images of the major rivers of Asia – including the mighty Mekong that snakes through Southeast Asia and the Ganges and other revered rivers that bisect the subcontinent – might seem at odds with the sobering fact that Asia is the world’s driest…


Poverty, Inequality, and the Negative Effects of Mongolia’s Economic Downturn

June 25, 2014


For the last four years, Mongolia has had one of the fastest growing economies in the world, clocking double-digit growth on the back of a mining boom. The effects of this growth are obvious, especially in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, where cranes dominate the skyline…


Photo Blog: Critical Issue – Poverty and Inequality

June 25, 2014


Despite the region’s dramatic growth, income inequality across much of Asia is rising, and poverty remains a stubborn issue to overcome. Some 700 million people across the region live on less than $1 a day. In response, governments are taking on urgent policy reforms needed to create jobs and foster inclusive growth…


Participatory Urban Planning Takes Hold in Mongolia

May 7, 2014


Mongolia’s economic boom, coupled with harsh winters that have killed off cattle and traditional livelihoods, have made the country’s rural, pastoralist lifestyle less attractive and economically viable. As rural residents flood to the capital, Ulaanbaatar, in search of work, city residents now account for one-half of Mongolia’s total population, up from one-quarter only 25 years ago. But 60 percent of those city residents live in the ger districts that surround the capital, without access to basic services such as electricity and water. Given this rapid growth, the government has not been able to develop adequate planning for the soaring ger developments.


ADB’s Stephen P. Groff Examines Rise of Inequality in Middle Income Asia

May 7, 2014


On the heels of the launch of the Asian Development Bank’s latest Asian Development Outlook 2014 report, ADB Vice President Stephen P. Groff visited Asia Foundation headquarters in San Francisco last week to discuss key findings and how the ADB is realigning its operations to emphasize inclusiveness…


Photo Blog: Improving Access to Information on Waste Management in Mongolia

April 30, 2014


More than half of the 1.2 million residents of Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, live in the city’s sprawling ger areas, and the majority of residents lack access to basic public services such as water, sewage systems, electricity, and safe waste disposal, and educational resources including libraries.


Urban Ecology Reconnects Humans with Nature

April 16, 2014


Last month, China unveiled its grand urbanization plan to increase the number of people living in cities to 60 percent, or around 100 million additional people, by 2020. In fact, China’s migration plan reflects a global trend: right now, about half of the world’s population…


Better Urban Water Management Needed for Asia’s Cities

March 19, 2014


By 2050, estimates predict that close to 70 percent of the world will live in cities. Asia is home to 17 of the 25 most densely populated cities in the world, and the mass migration from the countryside to Asia’s cities is “unprecedented in human history” and has significant environmental consequences, according to the Asian Development Bank.


Cambodia’s Capital Introduces New Public Bus Service

February 26, 2014


Earlier this month, a fleet of 10 air-conditioned public buses took to the congested streets of Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh. The pilot program, launched by the city Municipality in partnership with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), will run until the end of February with a wait-and-see approach…