This week’s Guest Speaker was Daniel Gilfillan, a PhD Candidate at the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the Australian National University.

Daniel presented an interesting talk on his PhD topic: ‘Public Health and Climate Change in South East Asia’.

Daniel said that adapting to climate change is about ways people can cope with the effects of a changing climate rather than focusing on greenhouse gas emissions reductions. His particular concern is that in South East Asia, the changing climate is impacting on public health in a number of ways, such as:

  • More rapid mosquito breeding cycles leading to more cases of diseases like malaria and dengue.
  • Malnutrition as tropical storms of increased intensity wipe out crops and irrigation systems.
  • More and bigger floods, bringing more cases of water borne diseases like diarrhoea.

Daniel GilfillanDaniel intends to spend 12-15 months in South East Asia examining these links. This long time-frame is so he can develop an in-depth understanding of the context where public health policies are implemented.

‘The end goal of my research is to make well-founded policy recommendations on the most effective ways to incorporate consideration of climate change impacts into government policy. I believe this research is important, and aligned with the Rotary ethos, for a number of reasons:

  • One tenth of the world’s population live in South East Asia, and
  • Nearly 100 million South East Asians live below the poverty line, with many relying on agriculture for their livelihoods, and
  • The agricultural sector is highly exposed to the impacts of climate change – particularly to floods, droughts and typhoons of increasing intensity.

All this means, to me, that the changing climate is going to cause a lot of suffering for a lot of people in our neighbourhood. My research, as well as my post PhD work, will look for ways to help those who are poor and vulnerable to cope with these changes.’

If you are interested in contacting Daniel, his contact details can be found on the Fenner School website.

Earlier this year he published an article on an online forum, on more general policy and climate change issues, which can be found here.