International Workshop: “Unpacking the rise of green developmentalism in Southeast and Northeast Asia” | 京都大学 東南アジア地域研究研究所


International Workshop: “Unpacking the rise of green developmentalism in Southeast and Northeast Asia”

International Workshop 
Unpacking the rise of green developmentalism in Southeast and Northeast Asia

Organized by:
The Asia-Japan Research Institute, Ritsumeikan University
Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University

Supported by:
Asia Japan Institute’s Advanced Research Programs 
Hakubi Center for Advanced Research

Over the past decade, geopolitical gravity and regional development focuses have been increasingly shifted to energy transition efforts. Northeast Asian countries including Japan, South Korea, and China have set a series of ambitious decarbonization strategies, green financing, and scaled green energy-related technologies. China, for example, leads the global market for solar panel and EV batteries, while actively pursuing green investments abroad – termed as “small but beautiful” Belt and Road projects. It seeks to strengthen its position in energy transition minerals (ETMs) supply chains by intensifying technology adoption, diversifying investments in resource-rich countries, and upgrading its industrial capabilities through dual-circulation strategies (Li et al 2023; Wang et al 2024). In the case of South Korea, as elaborated by Thurbon et al (2021), we see the increasing role of the state in disrupting powerful fossil-fuel incumbencies while consistently promoting the creation and mass commodification of new green technologies. Likewise, Japan seeks to spur clean hydrogen production and support energy transition programs in developing countries under the scheme of Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) (Do & Burke 2024).

At the other extreme, the global energy transition has created conditions for a new, green developmentalism in Southeast Asian countries, resulting in variety of green financing regimes, state-business relations, and shifts in resource management. In particular, this region – hailed as a key investment destination, debtors, as well as a new epicenter of growth – has begun working on strategies to leverage clean energy supply chain, including but not limited to critical mineral and semiconductor, and ramp up investments in green infrastructure. As widely reported, Southeast Asian governments have spurred innovative financing and established new investment regimes to speed up the energy transition and to reap benefits from the US-China strategic competition that has been intensifying over the past few years (Harlan & Lu 2022; Liao 2022). However, as widely discussed elsewhere (Firdaus & Mori 2023; Riofrancos 2020; Sovacool et al 2020; Wijaya & Sinclair 2024), their implementations have been faced with the lack of viable transition pathways and resulted in emerging forms of conflicts. The latter is coupled with major shifts in national development priorities, climate regulatory governance, and renewed dynamics of alliances and contestation over land, resource access, and rents (de los Reyes 2024; Féliz & Melón 2023; Wu & Martus 2020; Zhan 2021).

Taken together, these regions increasingly become a battleground between different paradigms of green developmentalism, which transform patterns of cooperation and conflict between countries as well as among social-political groups within states. Here, green developmentalism reflects a “new board, new game” (Scholten et al 2020) with renewed disagreement about decarbonization agendas, new forms of cooperation and interdependence between states, social movements, state transformation, and emerging policy spaces for trade and investment policies. Simultaneously, underneath these dynamics lie historical and structural barriers related to each country’s natural resource endowments, relations between different forces of capital, institutional origins of state-society relations, as well as new geopolitical economy where green investments are drawn along the line of geopolitical logics (Schindler et al 2023; Wijaya & Jayasuriya 2024). However, the debate on the rise of green developmentalism in Northeast and Southeast Asia is far from precise, given that the very concept of “green developmentalism” is related to rather convoluted theoretical assumptions and historical experiences. In this workshop, we aim to update and give clearer contours to this idea of green developmentalism especially in the time of ‘polycrisis’ (Tooze 2022) –  the US-China trade war, interstate conflict, natural disaster and extreme weather, and debt crisis.

This workshop seeks to address the following sets of questions: 

  1. What implications does the shift in geopolitical landscape have on countries’ energy transition policies and priorities? Are we seeing the deepening polarization of energy transition politics in the region and/or policy convergence?
  2. In what ways are global energy transitions translated into domestic politics and vice versa? Who are the winners and losers?
  3. In what ways are state-industrial relations  being reconfigured in the context of green development plans? And how do these in turn shape and reshape previously carbon-intensive energy and developmental pathways?
  4. What new forms of collaboration (or conflicts) are emerging between these regions (e.g in technology transfer, supply of critical resources, transition/green financing), especially in light of the intensifying US-China rivalry, and how do these support (or undermine) national and regional decarbonization goals?

Supported by Asia Japan Institute’s Advanced Research Programs and by the Hakubi Center for Advanced Research, Kyoto University, this workshop seeks to foster exchange among selected scholars of their ongoing works in environmental politics and green developmentalism. Specialists from diverse areas of knowledge will introduce their recent publication, ongoing research activities and share their results. It has two aims: (1) theoretically generative: in the sense that it would foreground the concept of green developmentalism in the context of Southeast and Northeast Asia and (2) empirical contribution: better understanding of different strategies and policy divergence/convergence among countries that later result in varieties of green developmentalism in the region. Panels are divided based upon regional focuses, as follows:

Zoom Meeting link 
Meeting ID: 965 6728 6370 
Passcode: 247951

8:30 – 10:00 The rise of green developmentalism in Northeast Asia
Associate Professor Akihisa Mori
(Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies, Kyoto University)
Professor Vivian Zhan
(Department of Government and Public Administration, the Chinese University of Hong Kong)
Associate Professor Sung-young Kim
(School of Social Sciences, Macquarie University)

Associate Professor Wu Fengshi
(School of Social Sciences, University of New South Wales)
Associate Professor Yixian Sun
(Department of Social and Policy Sciences, University of Bath)

10:00 – 10:30 Coffee break

10:30 – 12:15 The rise of green developmentalism in Southeast Asia 
Associate Professor Jessica Liao
(School of Public and International Affairs, North Carolina State University)
Associate Professor Tyler Harlan
(Urban and Environmental Studies, Loyola Marymount University)
Assistant Professor Julie de los Reyes
(Center for Southeast Asian Studies and Hakubi Center for Advanced Research, Kyoto University)
Dr. Trissia Wijaya
(Asia-Japan Research Organisation, Ritsumeikan University)

Dr. Thang Nam Do
(Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University)

12:15 – 13:00 Open Discussion

This workshop is co-organized by the Asia-Japan Research Institute, Ritsumeikan University and the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University.