Illustration of Asia portraying economic activities and climate change

AI + Climate Futures
in Asia

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Introduction

Climate change has pushed the Asian region across a tipping point of irreversible change. Temperatures are rising two times faster in Asia than the global average. Rising sea levels are eroding arable land, devastating rural incomes and food security. Megacities like Mumbai, Jakarta and Shanghai risk being submerged. High greenhouse gas emissions are increasing mortality and respiratory diseases.

Swift and resolute action is needed to enable a just transition to climate-resilient economies and societies in Asia. Technological innovation, particularly machine learning and artificial intelligence are expected to play a crucial role in managing the climate crisis.

In 2023, a network of experts from the region came together to examine whether and how recent advances in Artificial Intelligence can be leveraged to address the climate crisis in Asia.

  • How might the use of AI support climate mitigation, adaptation, and resilience?
  • What are the opportunities, challenges, and risks?
  • What role can development organisations play in supporting the responsible use of AI for climate action in Asia?

We looked at three sectors - agriculture and food systems, power and energy transitions and disaster response and preparedness, in 9 countries - India, China, Singapore, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and Japan.

Illustration of two satellites

Anchored by Digital Futures Lab the network mapped the current landscape of AI and Climate Action in Asia, identified emerging trends and signals of change , built speculative future scenarios, spoke with leading policy experts, and developed a set of recommendations for development organisations. Network members also drafted a series of country and issue briefs.

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Expert Network

Profile photo of Aaditeshwar Seth

Aaditeshwar Seth, India

Aaditeshwar Seth is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, and co-founder of the social technology enterprise Gram Vaani. Several million people, and over 150 organizations worldwide, have directly touched technology platforms built by Aaditeshwar's team at Gram Vaani and his students at the ACT4D (Appropriate Computing Technologies for Development) research group at IIT Delhi.
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ChengHe Guan, China

ChengHe Guan is the Founding Co-Director of the Shanghai Key Laboratory of Urban Design and Urban Science (LOUD). He is Assistant Professor of Urban Science and Policy at NYU Shanghai, Global Network Assistant Professor and Ph.D. Advisor at NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. He is named the “Dongfang” Distinguished Professor by Shanghai Institutions of Higher Education in the field of urban and rural spatial planning in 2022.
Profile photo of Cindy Lin

Cindy Lin, Indonesia

Cindy Lin is Assistant Professor at Penn State College of Information Sciences and Technology. She is a writer and ethnographer whose work centres on the data practices, exchanges, and expertise of climate change and their relationship to race and environmental governance in Indonesia and the United States. Her work is situated at the intersections of feminist science and technology studies, critical data studies, and postcolonial studies. Prior to her professorship at Penn State, she was a visiting postdoctoral fellow at Cornell Tech's Digital Life Initiative as well as a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell Atkinson Centre for Sustainability and Cornell's Department of Information Science.
Profile photo of Elina Noor

Elina Noor, Malaysia

Elina Noor is a Senior Fellow in the Asia Program at Carnegie where she focuses on developments in Southeast Asia, particularly the impact and implications of technology in reshaping power dynamics, governance, and nation-building in the region. Previously, Elina was director of political-security affairs and deputy director of the Washington, D.C. office at the Asia Society Policy Institute.
Profile photo of Gaurav Sharma

Gaurav Sharma, India

Gaurav is an Advisor on Artificial Intelligence for the German Development Cooperation (GIZ) in India. He recently completed his AI Tech Policy Fellowship at the Academy of International Affairs (AIA-NRW.org) on 'The EU AI Act and the voices from the Global South'. He is the Alumni Hub Coordinator for Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) in India. Gaurav served as the Ambassador for the 'Global Leadership Academy' for Asia and the Pacific region (2019-20) and was the Task Force-5 member of the Think20 (T20) initiative of the G20 from 2016 to 2020 on '2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development'. *Gaurav's engagement with this project is in his independent capacity.
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Md. Golam Rabbani, Bangladesh

Md. Golam Rabbani heads the Climate Bridge Fund Secretariat at BRAC. He is a seasoned climate change specialist with about 20 years of experience. He has expertise in strategy development, programme management, project development, climate change adaptation/mitigation, formulation/valuation of adaptation projects, conceptualising and developing knowledge products at local, national, regional and international level. His domain expertise is in climate risk assessment, adaptation policy and institutional analysis, climate financing mechanism, climate change negotiation, and coordination with donors and development partners.
Profile photo of Elenita "Neth" Daño

Elenita "Neth" Daño, The Philippines

Elenita Daño is the Asia Director of the Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC Group). She has extensive experience in development and policy work on issues in agriculture, agricultural biodiversity, biosafety, climate change and environmental governance in Southeast Asia. She earned her Bachelors' degree in Development Studies (cum laude) from the University of the Philippines, dabbled briefly with Law, but ended up completing her Master's degree in Community Development.
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Pyrou Chung, Thailand

Pyrou Chung directs the East West Management Institute's programs on natural resource, land and data initiatives in Southeast Asia under the Open Development Initiative. Pyrou has extensive experience in the development sector including conservation and human rights. More recently this work has intersected with the open data movement to utilize GIS data and information in an open data platform, Open Development Mekong.
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Tien Nguyen, Vietnam

Tien Nguyen is the founding partner at Earth Venture Capital, a global climate tech fund, focusing on IOT, AI/ML, Robotics and New materials to create a positive impact on climate change.Tien is also a co-founder at Wiziin Inc, a professional investment platform. With long-term experience and deep expertise in the venture capital industry in Ireland, Tien contributes and commits to the development of the VC and startup ecosystem in Vietnam and South East Asia.
Profile photo of Veerappan Swaminathan

Veerappan Swaminathan, Singapore

Veera is the CEO of Sustainable Living Lab, a sustainability consulting firm with operations in Singapore, Indonesia, India and the US. His professional experience spans the domains of sustainability, foresight, corporate innovation and AI skilling. He serves as the Co-Chair of the Climate Action SG Alliance and as an Exco member of the SGTech Sustainability Steering Committee. In 2014, he co-founded a community based initiative called Repair Kopitiam to tackle the buy-and-throw-away culture in Singapore.
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Urvashi Aneja, India

Urvashi Aneja is the founding director of Digital Futures Lab. Her current work examines the ethics and governance of AI in the Majority world. Urvashi advises numerous governments and international organisations on artificial intelligence, digital rights, and platform governance. She is currently the Co-Chair of the T-20 Task Force on Digital Public Infrastructure. Her research has been cited in leading national and global media publications, including the MIT Technology Review, BBC, Reuters, and the Economic Times. She was previously a Fellow at Chatham House and a Non-Resident Fellow at the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai.

The AI and Climate Futures project was commissioned by The Rockefeller Foundation. Opinions expressed here are our own, as are any errors or omissions.

Digital Futures Lab is an interdisciplinary research and advisory firm that studies the complex interaction between technology and society. Through evidence-based research, foresight and public engagement, we work to develop pathways toward equitable, safe, and sustainable futures.

The research for this project was conducted between February and November 2023.

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