Center for Climate Change and Environmental Health (3CEH)

The Center for Climate Change and Environmental Health (3CEH) of Asian University for Women (AUW) orchestrated a pivotal event in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh addressing the challenges of education, environment, and health in the Forcibly Displaced Myanmar Nationals (FDMN) camps. Supported by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada, the two-day event commenced with a symposium on March 6, 2024 and a field visit the following day to the Rohingya camp-16, Ukhiya, in Cox’s Bazar.

The symposium included presentations, panel discussions and a book launch with an aim to foster knowledge exchange, dialogue, and collaboration to find sustainable solutions to the challenges confronted by Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, home to one of the largest refugee camps globally. The event was Chaired by Dr David Taylor, Interim Pro-Vice Chancellor at AUW, while Dr Sayed Mohammad Nazim Uddin, Founding Director of 3CEH and Associate Professor of Environmental Science, set the stage for discussions as the Co-Chair.

Special guests and speakers included Her Excellency Lilly Nicholls, The High Commissioner of Canada in Bangladesh; Dr Edgard Rodriguez, Senior Program Specialist at IDRC; Mr Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner; Dr Monira Ahsan, Post-Doctoral Researcher, Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok; Khan Md. Ferdous, Senior Manager, Education in Emergencies, Save the Children, Cox’s Bazar; Dr Mukesh Kumar Gupta, Assistant Professor of Environmental Sciences, AUW; Paul McCallion, Senior Energy officer, Energy and Environment Unit, UNHCR; Dr. Muhammad Talut, Deputy Secretary of the RRRC; and Dr Nazmul Alam, Associate Professor and Director of the Public Health Program at AUW.

AUW students and alumnae took to the stage to showcase their own commitment to improve the lives of Rohingya people through studies and research carried out while at AUW and in their postgraduate degrees, presenting on challenges including child marriage and teenage pregnancy, maternal health, fire outbreaks, pollution and energy access. Thank you to our students: Mosaddika Monnin, Master’s student; Nazifa Rafa, AUW Alumni, Phd Fellow, University of Cambridge; Parmin Fatema, UG3 student; Taslima Razzak, Master’s student; Nafisa Islam, AUW Alumni; Omar Salma, AUW Alumni; and Tofrida Rahaman, Master’s student.

While the conference established a platform for open dialogue and knowledge sharing on the matters raised, the site visit on March 7 allowed participants to engage directly with refugees, gaining first-hand insights into their daily lives, challenges, and aspirations. Overall the events organised left attendees with a strengthened resolve to work towards sustainable and innovative solutions with a strong commitment to ongoing advocacy and implementation of the strategies discussed.

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About 3CEH

The Center for Climate Change and Environmental Health (3CEH) was established at AUW in April 2021 with a mission to combat environmental degradation and advance climate change mitigation in Asia, focusing on low and middle-income countries. Activities include education, skill development, research, community engagement, and policy advocacy using a transdisciplinary approach integrating local and global knowledge. A significant emphasis of 3CEH is on empowering female researchers in Asia, providing them with vital skills for conducting essential research on climate change and environmental issues. Notable partnerships with international organizations and universities such as the University of Victoria, Oxfam, UNHCR, and Save the Children, are key to the success of the center, driving towards a sustainable and resilient future for Asia and beyond.

Environmental pollution is one of the greatest existential challenges facing the world today, threatening the balance of the earth’s support systems and posing a risk to humanity, particularly in the low and middle-income countries. In Asia’s developing countries, formal regulation of pollution is hindered by the lack of clear and legally binding rules, insufficient institutional capacity, inadequate equipment and trained personnel compounded by rapid economic activity resulting in toxic pollution. As a result, people in developing nations of Asia are particularly vulnerable to the health impacts of environmental pollution. A study conducted by WHO estimated that 12.6 million deaths globally, representing almost a quarter of all deaths, were attributable to the environmental conditions. In Asia, including Bangladesh, millions of lives could be saved by stemming environmental risks in people’s homes, workplaces, and communities through addressing issues of air and noise pollution, inadequate water and sanitation, chemical exposures, occupational risks, the built environment, and climate change. Asian societies are increasingly vulnerable to climate risk with many low-lying coastal cities exposed to risks of flood and typhoon, increases in intensity of heat, humidity, precipitation and, in some places, drought..  Moreover, Bangladesh is at the epicenter of the global climate crisis – 80% of the country is a low-lying floodplain, affected by floods, storms, riverbank erosions, cyclones, and droughts. The country ranks seventh on the Global Climate Risk Index of countries most affected by extreme weather and climate change has become an existential crisis.

AUW’s Centre for Climate Change and Environmental Health (3CEH), which started its journey in April 2021, will bring together scholars, policymakers, and practitioners to address environmental health and climate change issues. Drawing on local and international experience and expertise, the Centre will adopt a transdisciplinary approach towards creating a new conceptual, theoretical, methodological, and translational innovations that integrate and move beyond discipline-specific strategies to address a common problem in the field.  The aim is to provide leadership in the Asian region in environmental health and climate change through teaching, training, research, grassroots initiatives, and evidence-based policymaking.

Apart from delivering a postgraduate program in climate studies and environmental health, at its core, the Centre will support the mission of the University to create leadership capacity among women in Asian region by improving their access to education, training and enhanced facilities. Evidence shows that the effects of climate change affect women more severely than men.  Between 1980 and 2000, for example, there was an increase of women with lung cancer, while chronic obstructive pulmonary disease death rate rose much faster for women than for men; women are at a higher risk of lung cancer due to their exposure to smoke from coal fires in their homes.  The center will aim to bring women researchers from across the Asian region, educate them and equip them with the necessary skills and training to undertake research in climate and environmental issues. Our own graduates will work closely with women and parents to enhance their awareness on how to live a lower carbon lifestyle and ways in which to protect their children from environmental hazards.

The Centre will draw Faculty from across the University who will undertake teaching and research in the field of climate change and environmental health.  Academics will work in collaboration with Universities – national and international – and will bring together scholars, policy makers, practitioners and local businesses and provide a focus for innovators to implement global change through pioneering, practical solutions.

CCCEH Faculty and Staff