Dr. Michael DiGregorio

Country Representative, The Asia Foundation


Dr. Michael R. DiGregorio is the Asia Foundation’s Vietnam Country Representative. He has directed the Foundation’s work in Vietnam since 2014, during which time he has led new projects and programs to address business related disaster risk, city level climate resilience, green finance, blockchain traceability for export agriculture, digital applications for the “gig” economy, trade facilitation, energy planning, and digital finance for rural and remote farmers and small enterprise owners. Prior to joining the Asia Foundation, he served as a researcher within the Rockefeller Foundation’s Asian Cities Climate Change Resilient Network. From 2002-2009, Dr. DiGregorio was responsible for the Ford Foundation’s education, media, arts and culture program in Vietnam.

Michael earned a PhD in Urban Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2001 with a dissertation on the cultural economy of industrializing craft villages in the Red River Delta. His MA in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Hawaii was published in 1994 as “Urban Harvest: Recycling as a Peasant Industry in Northern Vietnam”. Dr. DiGregorio also holds an MA in Development Economics from Ohio University and a BA in Theology from Central Bible College.




Between 1985 and 2014, Vietnam’s energy intensity (EI), a measure of the amount of energy required to produce a unit of GDP, grew from 0.18 kWh to 0.90 kWh. This was the highest level of energy intensity in ASEAN, and it is likely to remain so, even with the MOIT’s targets for energy efficiency. Vietnam’s high level of energy intensity is driven by the manufacturing sector, where EI grew from 0.40 to 1.3 kWh per US$. Several researchers have pointed out that the primary cause for this high level of energy intensity is Vietnam’s relatively low electricity tariffs for businesses in the manufacturing sector. These low tariffs are intended to encourage development of the industrial sector, but in fact, have encouraged businesses to use more electricity than their regional competitors rather than invest in energy efficient manufacturing processes or process technology. Between 2013-2015, The Asia Foundation carried out a project supported by the UK’s Prosperity Fund to encourage businesses to reduce their energy use, and therefore their GHG emissions, through interventions that reduce costs and increase competitiveness. The project succeeded in reducing emissions, but more importantly, provided important insights into working with businesses in this important task.