Human Environments Research Group

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Dr Agatha Herman

Dr Agatha Herman

Dr Agatha Herman is Lecturer in Human Geography with interests in ethics, geographies of justice and international development.  In September 2014 Agatha began her Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship in which she is exploring ‘the power of Fairtrade’ to bring about sustainable and empowering development both to and beyond its producer communities.

In recent years there have been growing criticisms of the certified Fairtrade movement both in academia and the media. However there has been a significant lack of research actually exploring the impact which Fairtrade has on the producer communities.   Thanks to a British Council Researcher Links Travel Grant, since January Agatha has been in South Africa working with the Fairhills Association at Du Toitskloof Cooperative Cellar and Bosman-Adama (both Fairtrade wine producers) to really understand their experiences; focus groups and photo elicitation exercises with the farmworkers have illuminated the progress which has been made but also the continuing challenges they face.

Fairtrade Grape Processing.  Taken by a photograph elicitation participant (Feb 2015)

Fairtrade Grape Processing. Taken by a photograph elicitation participant (Feb 2015)

She says, ‘I think that what makes my research so useful is that it helps producers identify their strengths and areas for improvement, and will give consumers a clearer idea of what their Fairtrade purchases are actually supporting.  The need for Fairtrade and the context in which it finds itself varies from country to country so my research will take me to all of the current Fairtrade wine producing countries – South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Lebanon and Tunisia – in order to fully understand the system and its developmental impacts.  In turn, this will help to strengthen the Fairtrade system itself by making it more effective, transparent and responsive.’

Agatha’s research interests in resilience and development in production systems as exemplified here connect into broader interests in food politics, ethics and power relations.

Valentines Day Event at the Crèche.  Taken by a photograph elicitation participant (Feb 2015)

Valentines Day Event at the Crèche. Taken by a photograph elicitation participant (Feb 2015)

In recognition of her dedication Agatha  has been invited to return as a visiting scholar to the Ruralia Institute at the University of Helsinki (Finland), where she will further her research on social resilience and cultural connections within agriculture through new writing collaborations as well as speaking about her findings so far in both the Mikkeli and Seinäjoki units. On route she will be stopping off in Bonn (Germany) to develop new connections with Fairtrade International in order to better understand the global systems and relations of Fairtrade in terms of its standards, how they are put into practise and how they connect into the international development aims of the organisation.  To learn more about the contemporary fair trade movement, take a look at her forthcoming co-authored chapter with Mike Goodman in The Handbook of Research on Fair Trade, which will be published in June 2015.

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image2At the latest HERG meeting a research seminar took place in which we had the following PhD speakers talking about their projects prior to a group discussion:

Abu-Bakar Siddiq Massaquoi

“Topic: Addressing tenure and livelihood matters for REDD+ in Sierra Leone: Exploring the problems and prospects of an Adaptive Collaborative Management (ACM) approach.
My research examines the issues, options and outcomes of collaborative and adaptive management strategies for forest and natural resources management in three protected areas (national parks) in Sierra Leone. The purpose is to explore the possibility and value in blending the two approaches for addressing local tenure and livelihood concerns and for producing incentives for enhancing adaptive capacity, social learning and meaningful participation. Essentially, the study will guide the application and operationalisation of adaptive collaborative management for addressing various local concerns for REDD+ and other forest management regimes.”

Mighty Ihesiulor

Topic: Geographies of health and well-being in West Africa: a case study of Nigeria’s Niger Delta region.

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Brian Chirambo
My topic is: Addressing Drivers of Deforestation in Zambia: A methodology Critique of REDD+

The aim of the presentation was to share what my research was all about. Specifically I addressed my research questions, hypothesis, objectives and proposed methods.

Dennis Mailu

“My topic is ‘a critical assessment of governance of urban ecosystem services: A case study of Kibera slums, Nairobi Kenya.’

My study focuses on water governance in an urban poor context, demonstrating links between resilience principles and practice.”

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The Human Environments Research Group is contributing to work on adaptation and urban resilience in the global South. Two items hot off the press include a paper based on CDKN funded work on climate compatible development in Mozambique by Castán Broto V, Macucule D A, Boyd E, Ensor J, Allen C, 2015, “Building collaborative partnerships for climate change action in Maputo, Mozambique” Environment and Planning A 47(3) 571 – 587

Emily Boyd with international collaborators Aditya Ghosh (Heidelberg) and Max T. Boykoff (Boulder Colorado) also contributed a chapter on Climate Change Adaptation in Mumbai, India in newly published book The Urban Climate Challenge: Rethinking the Role of Cities in the Global Climate Regime (Cities and Global Governance) by

Craig A. Johnson (Editor), Noah J. Toly (Editor), Heike Schroeder (Editor). Drawing upon a variety of empirical and theoretical perspectives, The Urban Climate Challenge provides a hands-on perspective about the political and technical challenges now facing cities and transnational urban networks in the global climate regime. You can purchase the book on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/1CpFrRC .

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