ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

Sustainable Development (International)

This theme is the platform for the research projects, most of which have a strong social component, that are being undertaken in countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Bhutan, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Timor Leste. Most are large projects ($500,000 plus) that will run over a number of years and involve in-country partners. Project topics include and have included community forestry, groundwater management, agriculture and fisheries, sustainable development and ecotourism.

Past Institute Director Professor Max Finlayson has some handy hints for working on large complex projects.

  • Current Projects
  • Completed Projects
  • Higher Degree Research
  • Research Activities

Current Projects

Adapting to salinity in the Southern Indus Basin. Mitchell, M., Punthakey , J., Allan, C., Khan,M., Bond, J. (2021- 2023) ACIAR, $2,312,000 Project details

Assessing fisheries mitigation measures at Xayaburi Dam in Lao PDR. Baumgartner, L., McPherson, J., Ning, N. (2018-2022) ACIAR, $1.4M Project details

Delta Flows: The Role that Delta’s play in sustaining basin-scale fisheries in the Mekong and Irrawaddy Rivers. Baumgartner, L., &  Vu, V.A. (PhD student) (2017-2021) IHE Delft. $30,127 Project details

Fisheries monitoring in the Mekong Basin to assess impacts of mainstream hydropower projects as part of the Mekong River Joint Environment Monitoring (JEM) Programme. Baumgartner, L. (2020-2022) Australian Water Partnership, $640,542 Project details

Goat production systems and marketing in Laos and Vietnam. Millar, J. (2019-2022) Led by University of New England.  ACIAR, $165,824 Project details

Modernising irrigated agriculture to protect and restore aquatic biodiversity and ecosystem services in SE Asia. Baumgartner, L., Finlayson, M., Conallin, J.  (2019-2021) Australian Water Partnership/UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN FAO) $484,107 Project details

Quantifying biophysical and community impacts of improved fish passage in Lao PDR and Myanmar extension. Baumgartner, L., Marsden, T., Ning, N. & Horta, A.  (2018-2021) ACIAR & USAID, $800,000

Quantifying biophysical and community impacts of improved fish passage in Lao PDR and Myanmar.  (2016-2021) Baumgartner, L., Ning, N., Horta, A., Conallin, J. with Thorncraft, G. (National University of Laos), Phonekhampheng, O. (National University of Laos),  Singhanouvong, D. (Living Aquatic Resources Research Centre), Cooper, B. (UniSA)  Marsden,T., (Australasian Fish Passage Services) Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) & USAID, $2.6M (initial funding of $1.8M plus an additional $800,000 in 2018) Project details

Translating fish passage research outcomes into policy and legislation across South East Asia. Baumgartner, L., Robinson, W., Ning, N., Conallin, J., Bond, J., Pawsey, N.   (2020-2023) ACIAR, $2,867,857 Project details

Completed Projects

Assessing fisheries mitigation measures at Xayaburi Dam in Lao PDR. Baumgartner, L. & Silva, L. (2017-2019) ACIAR, $320,000 (MOU – Xayaburi Power Company Limited)

Community reforestation for biodiversity and livelihood diversification in Timor-Leste. Millar, J. (2017-2021), UK Darwin Initiative Fund, $528,703. Project details

Diadromous fish of the Mekong: managing long distance fish migrations at mainstream dam sites. Baumgartner, L., Vu ,A. (2020) ACIAR internship, $19,000

Farm Power and Conservation Agriculture for Sustainable Intensification. Blackwell, J. & Krivokapic-Skoko, B. (2013-17) ACIAR, via CIMMY (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre), $544,000  Project details

Improving groundwater management to enhance agriculture and farming livelihoods in Pakistan. Hall, A., Punthakey, J., Allan, C., Mitchell, M., Culas, R. (2016-2021) ACIAR & CSU ($100,000), Total value of the project $2.15M  Project details

Improving salinity and agricultural water management in the Indus Basin of Pakistan. Finlayson, M., Allan, C., Culas, R., Mitchell, M., Punthakey, J. (2017) ACIAR, $50,000 Project details

In search of the elusive Mekong salmon. Baumgartner, L. & Vu. V.A. (PhD student), (2016-2019), National Geographic Society Research Grant, $30,080 Project details

Living with salinity in the Indus Basin: SRA 2. Mitchell, M., Barrett-Lennard, E., Allan, C. & Punthakey, J. (2019) Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), $88,000  Project details

Sustainable Hydropower and Multipurpose Storage to meet the Water, Food and Energy SDGs. Conallin, J. (2018-2020) (Contract extension) IHE Delft 35,000 Euros. Total value 67,500 Euros Project details

Sustainable rangeland management to protect red panda and herder livelihoods, Millar, J., Finlayson, M., & Tenzing, K. (2016-2019) Darwin Initiative Fund, $540,000 Project details

Workshop for the development of a national wetland inventory for the Kingdom of Bhutan. Finlayson, M., McInnes,R., & Davidson,N. (2019) Bhutan Department of Forests and Park Services – Watershed Management Division, $27,756 Project details

Full list of completed Projects

Current HDR Students

Dwi Atminarso: Genetic connectivity upstream and downstream of dams. (Masters) Principal supervisor Dr Lee Baumgartner.

Phenden Gyamtsho: Community based ecotourism. Principal supervisor Associate Professor Rosemary Black

Ghulam Zakir Hassan (Zakir): Improving sustainable groundwater management: A case study of artificial recharge in Punjab, Pakistan.  Principal supervisor Associate Professor Catherine Allan

Thanasak Poomchaivej: Patterns of fish migration at Xayaburi Dam on the Mekong River using the PIT (passive integrated transponder) monitoring system. Principal supervisor Dr Lee Baumgartner

Jorge Ramos:  Forest mosaic rehabilitation in Timor-Leste: Does it benefit or disadvantage ecosystem services and livelihoods?Principal supervisor Dr Jen Bond

Samir Thapa: Use of Clean Development Mechanism funding to convert from woodstoves to biogas cookers in western Nepal. Principal supervisor Professor Kevin Parton

An Vi Vu: Diadromous fishes in the Lower Mekong Basin. Principal supervisor Dr Lee Baumgartner (Thesis submitted 2021)

Sangay Wangchuk: Why are villages in the eastern part of Bhutan dying, and what are some of the social and ecological implications of this trend? Principal supervisor Dr Jennifer Bond



Dr Kim NelsonReimagining selves, liminal tourism spaces as sites for lifestyle migration. An exploration of the reflexive narratives of tourism business owners in Niseko, Japan Principal supervisor Associate Professor Rosemary Black

Dr Londari Yamarak: An investigation of the impacts of mining projects in Papua New Guinea on livelihoods and poverty in indigenous communities Principal supervisor Professor Kevin Parton

Research Activities

As well undertaking externally funded research projects, ILWS members (including Adjuncts) whose research interests are aligned with this theme are engaged in various other research activities/projects.
Examples of these include:

  • the development and delivery of a a two-day training course on conflict management, funded by FISHBIO Laos, on October 9 and 10, 2019 in Vientiane with participants coming from FISHBIO Laos, Laos Department of Livestock and Fisheries, and private hydropower companies. The second component of the trip included a three day field visit to one of FISHBIO Laos’ project sites and Fish Conservation Zones (FCZ) to meet with communities to discuss the challenges and benefits of the FCZs and provide recommendation to FISHBIO Laos on how to incorporate conflict management activities into their project work
  • provision of technical assistance for the construction of Cambodia's second fishway, built on the Stung Pursat (Pursat River), a southern tributary of the Tonle Sap lake in Cambodia, and in the development of an on-going monitoring program.
  • the development of a wetland inventory, assessment and monitoring strategy for Indian wetlands under climate change under a UN Global Environment Facility funded project managed by Wetland International South Asia
  • following the earthquake in Nepal in 2015, a community narrative project with Tribhuvan University Rai, looking at   the earthquake aftermath, the emergency disaster response of the state, international bodies' social work response, and the long-term challenges for land-locked Nepal.
  • a project which aims to offer small holder farmers across the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) improved capacity to produce and market "clean and green produce under the Core Agriculture Support Program (CASP)
  • a project Urban Growth, Neo Liberal Failures and Water Scarcity in Accra and Atlanta which is investigating water governance regimes in Atlanta (USA) and Accra, (Ghana) two rapidly growing cities —one from the global North and the other from the global South—that share similar histories of neoliberal water governance failure.
  • a project looking at the costs and benefits of ecotourism in protected areas in Ghana
  • an ACIAR funded and Graham Centre administered project (2017-2020) looking at the economic impact of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) on sweet potato production in Papua New Guinea
  • a bilateral project between the governments of Myanmar and Norway on Conservation of Biodiversity and Management of Protected Areas in Myanmar. A component of this project included developing a draft set of Guiding Principles for a systematic approach to Ramsar Site identification and prioritisation for designation and a Provisional working list of Myanmar wetlands potentially qualifying as internationally important under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands