Southeast Asia refers to those Asian countries located to the south of China and the east of India. It consists of two main geographic regions: the Asian mainland and the islands and archipelagos lying between Asia and Australia. With the exception of the mountain areas in the north, Southeast Asia has a mainly tropical climate, with heavy rainfall.

Research conducted by the NCCR North-South is focused on the so-called Greater Mekong Subregion.

The Mekong is one of the world’s largest rivers, draining an area of some 795,000 square kilometres. Rising in Tibet, it traverses the Yunnan province (China), Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam before emptying into the South China Sea. The Mekong forms a large part of the border between Thailand and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. Extreme seasonal variations in flow, as well as numerous falls and rapids, make navigation of the river extremely difficult. Because of this, the Mekong’s role in history has been more to divide, rather than unite, the people living in the region.

Some 90 million people rely on the Mekong River for their livelihood. The main economic activity is rice production.

While most of the countries of Southeast Asia have shown high rates of economic growth in recent years, the distribution of wealth remains one of the most important social challenges in the region. Given the continuing rapid expansion of the population, the more vulnerable groups face a growing risk of marginalisation.

Economic growth has also placed increased pressure on the region’s natural resources. Deforestation, soil degradation and pollution of water resources have emerged as the key environmental and public health issues.

NCCR North-South research in Southeast Asia is guided by the Regional Coordination Office located at the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok, Thailand. Research topics include sustainable sanitation and health interventions for vulnerable populations, landscape transformation and natural resource use, and access to livelihood means among marginalised populations.

Southeast Asia Brochure

Research Partnerships for Sustainable Development in Southeast Asia
The brochure Research Partnerships for Sustainable Development in Southeast Asia was recently published by the NCCR North-South team based in Bangkok. It presents highlights from work conducted in Southeast Asia over the past four years.

Download Brochure (PDF, 2.5 MB)


Regional Coordination

Southeast Asia Regional Office

Dr. Thammarat Koottatep (Regional Coordinator)
Phone: +66 2 524 61 88, E-mail:

Arunee Ongmongkolkul (Research Associate)
Phone: +66 2 524 55 95, E-mail:

School of Environment, Resources and Development
Asian Institute of Technology
P.O. Box 4
58 Moo 9, Paholyothin Highway
Klong Luang
Pathumthani 12120, Thailand
Phone: +66 2 524 56 42 (Secretariat), Fax: +66 2 524 56 25

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