National Champion in the Frontiers Planet Prize challenge


Director of the NUS Centre for Nature-based Climate Solutions, Professor Koh Lian Pin, has been voted National Champion for the Global South – South East Asia – in the Frontiers Planet Prize.

The Frontiers Planet Prize is a global competition launched by the Frontiers Research Foundation. It is part of the Frontiers Prize programme, which aims to accelerate the development of scientific solutions that promote healthy lives and a healthy planet. The competition aims to encourage scientists and research institutions to propose solutions in the field of sustainability science that can have the greatest impact on stabilising the planet's ecosystem. A research grant of 1 million Swiss Francs was awarded to four ‘International Champions’ from the pool of National Champions.

The sustainability challenges facing our planet demand immediate attention, and requires a collaborative global effort and a pragmatic approach. This starts with identifying the best ideas in sustainability science.

The objective of the Frontiers Planet Prize is to bring together leading sustainability scientists from around the world to expedite practical solutions for 9 planetary boundaries – a framework that describes the limits of human activities on the Earth system for it to remain stable.

Professor Koh’s study, for which he was voted National Champion, uncovers the social and environmental benefits of forest protection in Southeast Asia, contributing to several of the 9 planetary boundaries – loss of biosphere integrity, climate change and land system change. The study highlights the potential of implementing large-scale carbon projects in the region that are focused on forest protection as a nature-based climate solution. The study also indicates that people living in or around forests within carbon projects experience co-benefits such as pollination services for pollinator-dependent agriculture, water quality regulation, as well as biodiversity conservation.

koh lian pin_frontier prize
Spatial overlay of different levels of co-benefits attained within profitable forest carbon areas

Importantly, realising co-benefits from forest carbon projects is crucial in aligning climate policies such as the Paris Agreement with key global policy frameworks like the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Professor Koh hopes that his research will help reconcile human needs with environmental conservation.

The research is published in Nature in 2022, titled “Co-benefits of forest carbon projects in Southeast Asia”.
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