SEI Asia Research Associate Minh Tran wearing multi-colored blouse with green background

Photo: Noraset Kunjara Na Ayudhya / SEI Asia.

  • Q

    How did you become passionate about your area of research and what inspires you?

    A

    As a child growing up in the outskirts of Hanoi, Viet Nam, I witnessed a rice paddy field next door turning into asphalted roads and high-rise buildings. The urbanization process and its impact on the lives and livelihoods of people in this context fascinated me. For my bachelor’s thesis, I wrote an ethnography of livelihood transitions following land reform in a Vietnamese peri-urban village.

    Five years and one degree later, during my master’s studies, I revisited that village. Its name appeared in an article praising a waste-to-energy project as a model for sustainability and climate action. However, my excitement soon faded away when I realized there was no mention of the families whose lives were uprooted, who five years ago were still adjusting to land-use changes that drastically altered their livelihoods. The connection between the social and environmental dimensions of urbanization processes has continued to be my area of interest ever since.

  • Q

    What was your motivation for joining SEI in the first place? Were you familiar with SEI in some form before joining?

    A

    I was familiar with SEI and its high-quality publications before, so the climate change, disaster, and development cluster at SEI Asia felt like a natural next step for me. My interest in joining SEI grew when I learned of exciting initiatives so well-aligned with my research interests, like the International Centre of Excellence on Transforming Development and Disaster Risk (ICoE-TDDR). The first sentence on About SEI resonated strongly with me and was what ultimately made me apply for the position:

    “We connect science and decision-making to develop solutions for a sustainable future for all.” Turning science into real change for a more sustainable and inclusive planet is not an easy task and I am thrilled to work with like-minded researchers in a collective effort to find out how.

  • Q

    From an employee objective, why are you at SEI and what is working for SEI like?

    A

    Several reasons make SEI an attractive employer in my eyes. I enjoy an exciting work environment, the extensive networks available, the opportunities to work on a wide range of topics and so forth. What would make it particularly difficult to leave are the people. It never ceases to amaze me how lucky I am to work alongside such a diverse, passionate and talented team of people!

  • Q

    What do you love most about your work?

    A

    At SEI we conduct a lot of meaningful research, but from an employee perspective, I find it equally important that we are encouraged to reflect critically on how we conduct our work and how we can improve. At SEI Asia, we have a weekly brown-bag lunch, during which we exchange ideas, knowledge and experiences. At the most recent session, we discussed the complexity of integrating human rights into environmental programming. Last year, I was fortunate enough to get involved with a group of researchers across SEI centres to reflect on colonial legacies and power relations in climate research and how we can shift power through research. Putting these big important ideas into day-to-day work has always been my favorite challenge and learning experience at SEI.

  • Q

    How do you see your area of research developing over the next five to ten years and how is it linked to the SDGs or Agenda 2030?

    A

    My work focuses on the inclusion of marginalized groups in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction. Ensuring that all voices are heard, and acted upon, will become increasingly important going forward, given what we now know about climate change and the complex and systemic nature of disaster risk. An inclusive approach to climate and disaster resilience is fundamental to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We have worked with UNDRR on policy coherence between climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction, and sustainable development. In my opinion, it is crucial in countries and regions with limited resources to develop and implement these policies in synergies as a means towards an inclusive, sustainable and resilient future.

  • Q

    What’s your best tip for a healthy work-life balance?

    A

    I have to admit that I still struggle to find my work-life balance sometimes, as it means different things to different people and in different periods of our life. Having a dedicated and well-defined time and space for work certainly helps, but ultimately, it is about taking a pause regularly to check in with yourself, pay attention to your feelings and well-being, and reprioritize if needed.

  • Q

    Do you have any personal or professional role model who inspires you?

    A

    I tend to draw inspiration from people in my immediate surrounding.  As cliché as it may sound, I am inspired everyday by the work that we, our partners, and the communities we work with do! Especially the young climate leaders we worked with in a recent project.