Southeast Asia has been buffeted by several shocks and momentous events over the last two years, in particular the economic recession which started in July 1997; the return of Hong Kong to China; and political instability, particularly in Indonesia.
Increasingly, large, extended urban regions compete with each other in the Region and in the global economy. Furthermore, as a result of strong driving forces, including free trade, convergence in tax structures, and the "death of distance", Southeast Asian urban regions are less protected and influenced by nation states, and are thus highly vulnerable to unpredictable consequences of strong forces associated with globalization and co-evolving domestic change.
Dr. Webster will assess events of the last few years in terms of the dramatic re-positioning that has occurred among major urban regions in Southeast Asia - identifying winners and losers. His assessment will be based on consideration of both competitiveness and resilience - the two primary objectives, perhaps non-reconcilable, of most Southeast Asian urban regions.
Dr. Webster is currently a visiting scholar at the Asia/Pacific Research Center. He has been Senior Urban Advisor to the National Planning Board, Prime Minister's Office, Thailand for the last five years. He is involved in formulation of strategies and policies related to urbanization in the context of rapid socio-economic change in Thailand. He is also full time advisor to the World Bank's Asia and Pacific Urban Unit. At the global level, he is involved in formulation of the World Bank's Global Urban Strategy, and the World Development Report 2000 which will focus on urbanization and decentralization.
Dr. Webster was formerly Director of the Urban Planning Program at the University of Calgary and Professor of Planning at the Asian Institute of Technology. He has advised a wide variety of governments, cities, corporations, and development agencies on urban policies and programming, particularly in Southeast Asia, over the last 25 years. He is the author of many academic and professional publications on urbanization and urban issues in Southeast Asia.