Editorial

Road to disaster

Look around you. Environmental collapse is fast-approaching and environmental degradation is already hitting Southeast Asia.

Julija Veljkovic
December 20, 2019
Road to disaster

This week we looked at why Phnom Penh’s urban green spaces are shrinking into oblivion, how a National Geographic photographer, Michael Yamashita, has declared the once mighty Mekong he captured on camera in 1991 in danger, Cambodia’s agricultural challenges in the decades to come, and more. 

According to the World Health Organisation, every city should at least supply nine square metres of urban green space to its citizens. How much green space does Phnom Penh have? 1.1 square metres per capita to be exact. We look at why that is and what can be done to save the little greenery left.

National Geographic photographer Michael Yamashita travelled the length of the Mekong in 1991 to document communities whose livelihoods were so heavily dependent on the river. 28 years later, we spoke with him to reflect on the breathtaking images he took on this journey, as well as hear his thoughts on dams and environmental degradation destroying the river today.

In an exclusive investigative report, we uncovered the presence of super-potent opioid fentanyl in at least one batch of street drugs in Thailand – potentially the first discovery of its kind in the country. And with the devastating effect of fentanyl already taking lives in North America, we ask the question, is Southeast Asia poised to handle such a lethal opioid crisis?

As the threat of drought, sanctions and Big Tech loom on the horizon, how will Cambodia, a country so dependent on its agricultural sector, manage to adapt and survive in the coming decades?

In the third article of our eight-week Future Forum series looking at Cambodia in 2040, we turn to the Kingdom’s food production and farming industries.

As countries across Southeast Asia prepare to banish all North Korean migrant workers this weekend to comply with United Nations Resolution 2375, we return to a top read from 2011 looking at the then-growing trend of North Korean refugees fleeing oppression and crippling poverty to seek safety in Thailand.





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