Supporting and sustaining high quality research is at the heart of Sumernet. From the wide vista of sustainable development challenges in the region, four research areas have been identified as the strategic research themes for Phase 2:
Theme 1: Ecosystem services, resource use and impacts, including: (a) conservation of critical ecosystems, (b) environmental sustainability, (c) biodiversity corridors, and (d) economic corridor sustainability.
Theme 2: Trans-boundary issues. The focus is on the analysis of long-term impacts of national economics including trade and natural resources use on the sustainability of the region, and on searching for sustainable paths for regional cooperation and development.
Theme 3: Energy & climate change: energy security, climate change and linkages of the two with economic development. The research under this theme directly aims at this target to support the formulation or development of national strategies in this area.
Theme 4: Poverty and livelihoods: This theme is linked with the other three themes described above and will be a thread that runs through all aspects of Sumernet research activities.
Theme 5: Sustainable urbanization: This theme is a cross-cutting theme that can give a comparative overview of urbanization scenario in the Mekong countries. It also can inform how urban planning has to be done in relative to socioeconomic development, cultural enrichment, poverty and environmental management in the future.
These themes are themselves broad in character: they will be refined, prioritised and turned into specific research questions by the network members and in consultation with policy makers to understand what knowledge they need and how decisions on key sustainable development issues can be informed and influenced by better understanding of the immediate and long-term implications of key environmental and development trends in the region.