Lancaster experts bring sustainable development insights to SE Asia

Residents in Jakarta, Indonesia, travel in rubber boats during flooding in the city

Members of Lancaster University Management School’s Centre for Transport and Logistics (CENTRAL) joined forced with academics from Kent and Southampton Universities to bring news insights into sustainability to Southeast Asia.

Professors Konstantinos Zografos, Juliana Sutanto and Adam Letchford, and researchers from Kent and Southampton Universities, worked with universities and government institutions from Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam in a virtual workshop.

Over two days in July, they planned how to address some of the most persistent challenges among the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by applying Operational Research (OR).

OR – nicknamed ‘the Science of Better’ – is a scientific approach to the solution of problems in the management of complex systems, enabling better decision-making. LUMS, Kent Business School and the University ofSouthampton are internationally-renowned in the field.

More than 100 stakeholders attended the workshop, which identified ‘disaster in the city’ and digital governance in Indonesia, multi-modal transport systems in Vietnam, urban flooding and drainage in Laos, and food supply security in Cambodia as key areas where OR could be applied.

The workshop was part of the CREST-OR (Improving Community Resilience and Sustainability Through Operational Research Capacity Building in Southeast Asia) project, of which Professors Zografos, Sutanto and Letchford are co-investigators. CREST-OR is supported financially by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), and is led by Professor Maria Paola Scaparra, from Kent Business School.

Later this year, CREST-OR will work with early-career researchers from SE Asia to design specific OR initiatives which could meet the above-mentioned challenges. The project aims to generate a vibrant network of OR ‘pracademics’ – those keen to develop their research capacity and to apply academic know-how to address complex problems in the real world.

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