Case Studies on the Intersectional Impacts of Air Pollution on the World of Work of Vulnerable Groups including Women and Youth in Southeast Asia

The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) announces a call for proposals for research partners to conduct case studies in Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Thailand and Vietnam. Total funds available are up to 400,000 Swedish Krona (SEK) per country.

The deadline for submission of the full proposal is on 13 August 2021, 23:59 Bangkok local time

Introduction

Air pollution is a growing problem in Asian countries. While its impacts on human health are becoming increasingly known, its impacts on the world of work, including disproportionate exposure of worker’s groups and consequences on their health and wellbeing, work quality and quantity, remain understudied. Specifically, there is a dearth of research on how exposure to and impacts of air pollution in the world of work are influenced by social categories and identities (i.e., gender and age), such as younger population groups newly entering the job market and migrants. While a substantial body of research on gender and air pollution has focused on women’s exposure to indoor (i.e., point source) air pollution, much less is known on exposure to outdoor air pollution (i.e., non-point source) by women, youths and migrant workers who are over-represented in informal employment such as street vending, daily wage labour, construction and agriculture.

SEI, an international research institute, with funding from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO), and in the context of the UN Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth, is currently conducting a research on the impacts of air quality in the “world of work”. This research encompasses both the labour supply-side (i.e. workers and employment) and the demand-side (i.e. productivity, enterprises). The labour supply-side includes paid and self-employed, short-term, part-time and seasonal employment.

The project seeks to understand the differentiated impacts of air pollution on those within the world of work in Southeast Asia and to identify recommendations on how to reduce air pollution and improve the quality and quantity of employment in a context of just transitions towards a low carbon economy.

Following a scoping review of the existing evidence and knowledge about air pollution and the world of work in Southeast Asia, we are now looking for in-country research partners to carry out case studies in three of the four countries: Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam. This call for proposals provides information on the partners we are looking for and the work we sought to undertake.

About the call for proposals

Based on the above, SEI is looking for in-country research partners in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Vietnam to carry out case studies, which are guided by the following questions:

1. In what ways do air quality affect different worker and business groups across occupations and sectors? Do the impacts disproportionately affect certain groups based on inequalities related to social categories and identities such as gender, age, nature of occupation, sexuality, ethnicity, education, ability, migration status, class, etc.?

2. Do existing national policies (including labour market, economic development, and pollution control policies) address structural causes of air pollution and mitigate its impacts in the world of work? In what ways do those policies benefit or adversely affect different groups of business and workers? In particular, how does gender and age determine these benefits and impacts?

3. What are the entry points for interventions and policies to address air pollution, and what are the opportunities for ‘green jobs’ that are both decent and accessible for women and youths?

Methods

Based on these research questions, we envisage proposed projects to conduct research that brings to the fore an intersectional understanding of how air pollution is underpinned by social and economic structures. We expect proposals to articulate methodologies that follow principles of inclusive, feminist and participatory research. Applicants can choose specific industries to base their case studies around, including work settings or labour groups they want to investigate in detail, while being mindful that we are looking for depth not quantity. In particular, we are looking for case studies that look at the informal sector and situation of women and youth.

Budget

Up to 400,000 SEK is allocated for each country case study. A proposal may cover any of the following countries: Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam. A total of three projects will be funded.

Proposal selection criteria

Proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Knowledge of the fields of air quality, labour and gender/social sciences
  • Demonstrate research and policy engagement capacity
  • Ability to foster co-production of knowledge through an inclusive, multi-disciplinary approach
  • Research management capabilities
  • Ethical considerations

Preferred lead

Proposals may be submitted by a single organisation or consortium. If a consortium, the proposal should be led by one lead institution (the contracting party) who will be responsible for the administration of the project and its budget. The roles of each consortium member should also be specified in the proposal. The lead institution must remain in regular liaison with SEI.

Preference will be given to applicants or consortium already based in the proposed country of study to avoid any unnecessary delays due to international travel restrictions arising from the COVID situation.

Tender process

Proposals must be submitted using the 2 templates provided:

All submissions are to be sent through email to Jaee Nikam, jaee.nikam@sei.org, by the deadline at 23:59, 13 August 2021 (Bangkok local time). Any proposals received after this time will not be accepted.

All proposals will be reviewed by the proposal review team from SEI, IDRC, and ILO. The proposal review team reserves a right to decline any full proposal that does not meet the minimum requirements set in the call document.

The key dates (based on Bangkok local time) in the process are:

1. Launch of the call for proposals – 14 July 2021

2. Deadline for full proposal submission – 13 August 2021, 23:59 Bangkok local time

3. Evaluation and selection of full proposals and grantee contract completion – 14-30 August 2021

For further information, questions or any queries, kindly contact Jaee Nikam, jaee.nikam@sei.org.

Within this, there is little evidence of the gendered impacts of poor air quality in the world of work, including impacts on younger population groups newly entering the job market. Through this project, focusing on East and South East Asian countries, we will review the existing evidence and knowledge and carry out case studies, in order to identify evidence-based recommendations to improve air quality alongside the quality and quantity of employment in a context of just transitions towards a low carbon economy. We will generate an evidence base needed by policy makers, employers and labour organisations and practitioners working in the environment, labour and health sectors to mitigate the ‘gendered’ impacts of air pollution in the world of work. Working in collaboration with stakeholders, we will identify knowledge gaps, mitigating pathways, economic, employment and labour market policy options, the roles of stakeholders, and opportunities to improve the quality of jobs and contribute to a healthier and more resilient economy. The research will be framed within a larger analytical framework of environmental justice and distributive environmental justice.

Working in collaboration with stakeholders and using regional case studies, we will identify knowledge gaps, mitigating pathways, economic, employment and labour market policy options, roles of stakeholders, and opportunities to improve the quality of jobs and contribute to a healthier and more resilient economy. We will frame the research within a larger analytical framework of environmental justice and distributive environmental justice.

The overall objective is to understand the differentiated impacts of air pollution on the world of work in East and Southeast Asian countries, and to identify evidence-based recommendations from regional case studies, to improve air quality and the quality and quantity of employment in a context of just transitions towards a low carbon economy.

As a result, we will add to the evidence base needed by policy makers, employers and labour organisations and practitioners working in the environment, labour and health sectors to mitigate the ‘gendered’ impacts of air pollution in work.

The project will produce knowledge that can be used by policy makers, employers’ and workers’ organisations, and civil society, at the intersection of labour, environment and health. It will help to ensure that ‘gendering’ effects of any measures that are applied are fully accounted for in decision-making.

Through active participation and capacity building, we will also raise the awareness of employers’ and workers’ groups and other civil society organisations working on air quality and labour rights about the need to consider air quality in the context of work, and identify potential solutions that also create employment opportunities, working in collaboration with local organisations in the case study countries.