Activities Winter-Spring 2019

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After a break in our blog site, we are back reporting about relevant academic activities regarding the environment, society, and development.

Let’s begin with a research seminar that kicked off the year with a pertinent topic, which is the relationship between scholars, research, and civil society action. The past 29 to 31 of January, it was held at the University of Eastern Finland, in Joensuu, the research seminar “Science & activism: The role of environmental movements in transformations to sustainability”, organized by the Institute for Natural Resources, Environment and Society (LYY) University of Eastern Finland (UEF), the project Collaborative remedies for fragmented societies – facilitating the collaborative turn in environmental decision-making (CORE), and ALL-YOUTH Strategic Research project (2018-2023). The aim of the event was to share ideas and discuss the role of activism, in its various forms, in transformation towards sustainability. The seminar covered a broad perspective on activism. Within the context of sustainability transition, the seminar approached challenges and benefits of combining activism and science, the role of environmental movements, citizen engagement in policy processes and scientific research, co-production of knowledge, analyses of the driving forces behind resistance and conflicts. You can see more detail information, abstracts, and paper presentation from key-note speakers and presenters in the LYY network webpage.

Three keynotes were commissioned for the seminar. Maija Faehnle, senior researcher in the Programme for Sustainable Urbanisation at Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, opened the seminar with her presentation about solving complex problems where activism is seen as a challenge and opportunity for collaborative governance. The second keynote was on charge of PhD Mariana Walter, postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA) in Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), who presented a perspective on radical transformations to sustainability, covering resistances, movements and alternatives, and related with the network of scholars and activists for environmental justice ACKnowl-EJ, including the Environmental Justice Atlas initiative. Finally, in the third keynote Marta Conde post-graduate research associate at Universitat Pompeu Fabra and Associate Researcher in UAB, who presented experiences of counter-expertise and co-production of knowledge in the interface between science and activism. Likewise, there were held presentations covering experiences from Finland, Catalonia, France, and Bangladesh, which as such covered different intersections between science and activism. Members of the ESDLA group at UEF, Mariana Galvão Lyra and Germán A. Quimbayo Ruiz, also took part with presentations in the seminar addressing the main topics of the event and related with their doctoral research projects, in Brazil and Colombia, respectively.

A spot from Mariana Walter’s keynote at the Science&Activism seminar in Joensuu. (Photo credit: Germán A. Quimbayo Ruiz)

At the end of a long and intense two-day seminar, some of the participants took part in a “world café” on environmental collaboration and conflict resolution focus on young people was led by the ALL-YOUTH Strategic Research project team. In the third day, Mariana Walter and Marta Conde gave open lectures on the Mining, environment, and society –course at UEF, covering as well items such as The Environmental Justice Atlas as a tool for activism and research, and initiatives in resistance to mining projects. The seminar finished with a visit to Koli National Park, where participants had the chance to meet one of the most iconic Finnish national landscapes.

Coda: ESDLA group suggests taking a look at the blog of the CORE project.

Sosiologipäivät ESDLA session

Sociology Days conference’s logo (Caption from

ESDLA group is hosting a session on Sosiologipäivät 2019 in Turku, the next March 29th. Postdoctoral researcher Tuula Teräväinen and Professor Juha Kotilainen are coordinating the Working Group #39: Environmental governance and social inequalities. Researcher and doctoral student, Germán A. Quimbayo Ruiz, will be also there presenting. More information about the conference and working groups here:

ESDLA contribution to ENTITLE blog

Caption from

Our ESDLA group member, Germán A. Quimbayo Ruiz, was recently invited to report on his latest research paper in the Collaborative Writing Project on Political Ecology ENTITLE. The post is titled: “Political ecologies of urban nature in Bogotá, Colombia”. The referred publication was published in the Journal of Political Ecology.


First post and a short report from the 10th NOLAN Conference, Norway

¡Hola! Oi!

This is our first post on ESDLA group’s blog, and we are hoping to stay posting each time we can. There is no better way to start our blog posting doing a short report about the participation of some of the group members in the 10th Nordic Latin American Research Network-NOLAN- Conference, in Oslo, Norway, the last October. In fact, the group organized a thematic panel called: “Environmental conflicts and socio-ecological transformations: identities, values, and practices in contemporary Latin America”. Although this conference held every two years is not explicitly about environmental issues, is by no means that there is no space to discuss such issues nor social, political, and cultural concerns are not environmental as well.

(Photo: Germán A. Quimbayo Ruiz)
The Mayor of the city of Oslo, Marianne Borgen, addressing to the participants of NOLAN’s conference at a reception held in the City Hall.

This 10th version of the NOLAN conference was framed in the topic “Epochal shifts in current Latin America” (for more info about the conference click here). Our panel had the “full house”, and about 20 attendants listened to our presentations, offering their insights and feedback. All the UEF members’ paper presentations were related to their ongoing doctoral projects in Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia respectively: Violeta Gutiérrez Zamora (panel convener), Mariana Galvão Lyra, and Germán A. Quimbayo Ruiz. The rest of the members of the panel were Anja Nygren (panel chair) and Anna Heikkinen from University of Helsinki, and Gard Frækaland Vangsnes who is an independent scholar from Norway.

People attending the panel organized by ESDLA (Photo: Germán A. Quimbayo Ruiz)

Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Perú, were the countries in the panel. From territorial conflicts, mining, water vulnerability, and urban nature, the presentations in the panel fitted very well with the main ideas along the conference. Issues such as disputes, conflicts, identities, and democracy were in common along the presentations regardless of their different topics or approaches.

Latin American complex realities and experiences can also bring learnings to current planetary challenges on democracy, climate change, and humanitarian crisis. Although social justice claims in Latin America are nothing new, environment and climate change are mobilizing old and new struggles for life, dignity, and other ways of social and economic development. In such struggles, there is a pursuing desire on democracy, which such, at the same, it is at stake because of new forms of exploitation (rural and urban) driven by social and environmental injustices, corruption and crime, escalating violence, and the uprising of authoritarian regimes.

Unfortunately, Latin America is the deadliest region for environmental activists, and according to Global Witness almost four environmental defenders a week were killed in 2017. Despite this desolating panorama, the realities in every day tend to have more nuances that deserve a deep scrutiny from researchers and research activists. In so doing, it can provide not only denouncing social and environmental injustices but stories of hope and innovation towards sustainability transitions.

It is very important that research in such frame transcend its place of privilege, and that may be is the greatest learning from NOLAN. For instance, along the conference were highlighted concerns such as the new chapter in the history of dependency of the exploitation of natural resources in the region, the multiple obstacles and threats to peacebuilding in Colombia, humanitarian crisis faced by Venezuelan and Central American refugees, impunity of violence in Mexico, or the outcomes after “the marathon election” of this year in the region upon a recent weakening of left-wing and progressive forces.

One of the keynote speakers: research Professor Monica Serrano (Photo: Violeta Gutiérrez-Zamora).

In fact, participants signed a call for solidarity with democratic forces in Brazil at the eve of the last presidential elections, where the far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro was finally elected as a new president on past October 28th.

In sum, the experience in NOLAN was fruitful for ESDLA group, and it is a fist but strong step to strengthen ties between and among researchers interested in Latin America and its democratic challenges, which are after all environmental.


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