Helena  Varkkey Author of Evaluating Organization Development
FEATURED AUTHOR

Helena Varkkey

Dr.
University of Malaya

Dr Helena’s broad research interests include sustainable development and environmental politics. Her current research focuses on transboundary haze pollution in Southeast Asia, and its link to palm oil. Her writings have appeared in many international academic journals and books on Malaysia and Southeast Asia. Dr Helena has been interviewed by various local and foreign media outlets for her views, and her commentaries have been published in The Straits Times Singapore and the Malaysian Insider

Biography

Dr Helena Varkkey is currently a Senior Lecturer at the Department of International and Strategic Studies, University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She completed her Doctorate at the Department of Government and International Relations, University of Sydney, Australia under the guidance of Associate Professor Susan Park and Professor Lily Rahim. Her doctorate thesis has been published as a book in 2015 as part of the Routledge Malaysian Studies Series. Her writings have also appeared in many international academic journals, including International Environmental Agreements, Environmental Hazards, Asia Pacific Business Review, Wetlands, and Asia Pacific Viewpoint. One of her academic articles won third place in the ASEAN Peatland Media Award 2013. Her work was also featured in the 2014 Routledge Handbook on Contemporary Malaysia. Dr Helena has been interviewed by various media for her views on haze, agribusiness and ASEAN, including The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, The Financial Times, Channel News Asia, The Straits Times Singapore, and The Star Malaysia. Her commentaries on sustainable development and haze issues have also been published in The Straits Times Singapore and the Malaysian Insider. She continues to undertake research in this field.

Areas of Research / Professional Expertise

    Dr Helena has been interested in sustainable development and environmental politics throughout her academic career, beginning at the undergraduate level when she was selected to represent Malaysia at the Hitachi Young Leaders Initiative in 2005, where she was involved in a working group on "Translating Environmental Awareness into Action". Her interest in the field has evolved to a focus on transboundary pollution in Southeast Asia, particularly pertaining to the role of patronage in agribusiness, especially the oil palm industry, and its link to forest fires and haze in the region.

Books

Featured Title
 Featured Title - The Haze Problem in Southeast Asia - Varkkey - 1st Edition book cover

Articles

Asia Pacific Viewpoint

Patronage politics as a driver of economic regionalisation: The Indonesian oil p


Published: Oct 09, 2015 by Asia Pacific Viewpoint
Authors: Helena Varkkey
Subjects: Asian Studies, Environment and Agriculture

Recent evidence has linked illegal peat and forest fires in Indonesia to commercial oil palm plantations. Using information obtained from interviews with individuals linked to the sector, this paper aims to explain why these companies continue to burn despite the dire consequences of the haze.

Environmental Hazards

Patronage politics, plantation fires and transboundary haze


Published: Oct 09, 2015 by Environmental Hazards
Authors: Helena Varkkey
Subjects: Asian Studies, Environment and Agriculture

Haze originates from peat and forest fires, mostly in Indonesia. This article questions why these companies have been able to burn with such impunity, even though using fire for land clearing is against Indonesian law. It argues that local and foreign plantation companies have cultivated strong patronage linkages with key patrons among the ruling elite.

International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics

Regional cooperation, patronage and the ASEAN Agreement on transboundary haze po


Published: Oct 09, 2015 by International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics
Authors: Helena Varkkey
Subjects: Asian Studies, Environment and Agriculture

The regional nature of the haze has resulted in a concentration of haze mitigation activities at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) level. However, these initiatives continually fail to effectively mitigate haze. This article argues that this failure is due to the influence of patronage politics in the sector, which is linked to the ASEAN style of regional engagement that prioritises the maintenance of national sovereignty.

Wetlands

Oil Palm Plantations and Transboundary Haze: Patronage Networks and Land Licensi


Published: Oct 09, 2015 by Wetlands
Authors: Helena Varkkey
Subjects: Asian Studies, Environment and Agriculture

Peat fires here have been found to be a major source of smoke that travels across national boundaries creating regional haze. Despite these regulations, more than a quarter of all Indonesian oil palm plantations are on peat. This paper argues that patronage networks within the Indonesian oil palm sector have been a major factor in the unsustainable use of peatlands there.

Asia Pacific Business Review

Malaysian investors in the Indonesian oil palm plantation sector: home state fac


Published: Oct 09, 2015 by Asia Pacific Business Review
Authors: Helena Varkkey
Subjects: Asian Studies, Environment and Agriculture

This paper analyses the regionalization of Malaysian oil palm plantation firms into Indonesia. These firms have been implicated in starting fires to clear land for planting, which has resulted in transboundary haze. This paper argues that these Malaysian investors have been able to burn with impunity, despite the dire consequences of haze on their home country, because of the close patronage relationships and vested interests of the Malaysian government elites in these companies.

Photos

Videos

Transboundary Haze and the Politics of Land Management in Indonesia

Published: Jun 03, 2016

Nottingham University Mindset Public Talk (Invited Speaker)