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Session Overview
216R: Equity and justice in telecoupled land systems: evaluative and transformative perspectives
Friday, 26/Apr/2019:
10:30am - 12:00pm

Session Chair: Sébastien Boillat
Session Chair: Jorge C. Llopis
Session Chair: Desiree Christina Daniel
Location: UniS-A 022
UniS Building, room A 022, ground floor, 72 seats
Session Topics:
What do people want from land?

Session Abstract

Through globalization, geographically distant land systems are increasingly tied together. The notion of telecoupling has been proposed to assess these distant ties, putting emphasis on the flows of matter, species, people, money and information that connect systems. Recent advances on the governance of telecoupled systems have shown that land systems can also be shaped by human decisions taken far away from their direct impacts, for example through transnational acquisitions of land, transnational value chains and the implementation of transnational conservation initiatives. These decisions generate costs and benefits that are unequally distributed among distant and local actors, raising equity concerns.

In parallel, recent research around the concept of environmental justice has sought to address equity beyond strictly distributive approaches and integrate other aspects such as procedural justice, social recognition, and non-human justice subjects. These developments have the potential to understand better the power relationships at work in distantly tied systems, which ultimately lead to more or less equitable outcomes in social-ecological terms

This session will have the objective to explore and discuss conceptual and empirical contributions on how to assess and evaluate equity issues in distantly connected land systems, and how to transform these systems to make them more equitable in both social and ecological terms.

In particular, we are interested in contributions that advance understanding of:

1) the governance mechanisms that lead to specific (in)equitable outcomes in distantly tied land systems

2) the role of distance in shaping power relationships between actors and in leading to multi-dimensional equity outcomes

3) the spheres of actions that different actors mobilize in their equity and justice claims

4) the characterization and evaluation of social-ecological systems in terms of equity and justice involving a broad array of subjects

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Full talk
ID: 804 / 216R: 2
216R Equity and justice in telecoupled land systems: evaluative and transformative perspectives
Keywords: environmental justice, telecoupling, institutional analysis, political ecology

Environmental justice in telecoupled land systems: conceptual challenges

Sébastien Boillat

Institute of Geography, University of Bern, Switzerland

In this contribution meant as an introduction to the session, I will discuss more specifically the potential of environmental justice approaches to assess equity in telecoupled systems.

Telecoupling as well as more recent framings of environmental justice share ontological common grounds such as post-nation-state (post-Westphalian), post-territorial and non-linear thinking. Nevertheless, more conceptual work is needed to understand the mechanisms that link distant social-ecological interactions with equity outcomes.

I suggest that this understanding requires three additional steps. First, one has to understand how distant social-ecological interactions are governed and how institutions that govern these interactions emerge. Second, one has to make explicit the power asymmetries that prevent or privilege some actors in shaping institutions. Third, one has to understand how the exercise of power in decision-making affects equity and justice outcomes.

In this contribution, I will assess the suitability of different approaches to make these links. I will first present the intellectual roots and the implicit assumptions of environmental justice, telecoupling, institutional analysis and political ecology, and I will then critically examine examples of practical combinations.

This contribution will be based on a research workshop on “Environmental justice in telecoupled resource systems”, held in Bern in November 2018.

Full talk
ID: 824 / 216R: 3
216R Equity and justice in telecoupled land systems: evaluative and transformative perspectives
Keywords: Governance, IBM, Justice, power relations, equity

Assessing governance outcomes in IBMs from the perspective of Environmental Justice: A comparative case study of IBMs in sugarcane production in Malawi.

Timothy Adams

University of Bern, Institute of Georgraphy, Switzerland

Inclusive businesses (IB) has been proposed as the most effective means of including smallholders for equitable outcomes in distantly tied agrarian investments, where distant actors (agribusiness) and local farmers enter into commercial partnership for production. However, empirical evidence suggest a large number of these inclusive business models (IBMs) do not often translate into the desired inclusive outcomes; majority of the IBMs often result in exclusion, inequality and low social returns to the local communities ( Chamberlain and Anseeuw 2017; Chamberlain and Anseeuw 2018). This paper therefore aim to assess why this is the case and how such unexpected consequences or outcomes, which in the first place, is the reason for the proposed IBMs, could be minimised.

Using different cases of IBMs involving sugarcane production in Malawi, we aim to show the different types of governance mechanisms in sugarcane production in Malawi and how they contribute to the specific (in)-equitable outcomes. We ask: what forms of governance mechanisms are in place for the implementation of the different IBMs for sugarcane production in Malawi? How do these governance mechanisms for managing the IBMs contribute to the unexpected outcomes of inclusion (e.g. exclusion and dispossession, unequal division of proceeds etc.)? And how could such governance mechanisms be improved upon in order to minimize (if only possible) such unexpected consequences of the IBMs in use?

In this paper we present an analytical framework for understanding how the governance mechanisms come about and how they contribute to the respective inclusive outcomes. We argue that the answers to these questions lies in the perspectives of environmental justice. By incorporating the dimensions of justice as guiding tool for designing mechanisms of governance for IBMs at the local level, where both the distant actors (agribusiness) and local actors (smallholders) interact in the sphere of resource activities, we can improve upon the governance mechanisms in place for IBMs, identify the avenues for unequal power relations and address equity beyond strictly distributive approaches through the integration of other aspects such as procedural justice, social recognition, and non-human justice subjects in the IBMs for desired outcomes.

Full talk
ID: 735 / 216R: 4
216R Equity and justice in telecoupled land systems: evaluative and transformative perspectives
Keywords: biodiversity, service-providing species, telecoupling, teleconnections, conservation burden

Distant poor and threatened regions underpin interregional flows of cultural ecosystem services

Matthias Schröter1, Roland Kraemer2, Roy P. Remme3, Alexander P.E. van Oudenhoven4

1UFZ - Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Germany; 2Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Institute of Geography; 3National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM); 4Institute of Environmental Sciences CML, Leiden University

Ecosystem service assessments rarely consider flows of ecosystem services and telecoupling between distant regions and hence neglect equity implications due to potential conservation burdens in sending regions. Large knowledge gaps remain for interregional flows of cultural ecosystem services in particular, which comprise non-material contributions of ecosystems to human well-being. We spatially delineated and analysed the sending regions for interregional flows of three cultural ecosystem services to two receiving regions, Germany and the Netherlands, on a global scale. The selected ecosystem services reflect different types of physical or intellectual interactions with nature and include aesthetic appreciation of species, existence and bequest values held for species, and birdwatching. We compared the most important sending regions for both countries in terms of location, equity implications, threat and protection status.

The proportion of service-providing species with habitats distant from the receiving region was highest for birdwatching (Germany: 58.6%, Netherlands: 59.4%), followed by existence and bequest values (Germany: 49.3%, Netherlands: 57.1%), and aesthetic appreciation (Germany: 26.7%, Netherlands: 20.0%). Hotspots for existence and bequest and birdwatching for both countries were significantly poorer than the global mean. This raises questions of interregional distributive justice, as the costs of conserving service-providing species habitat would need to be covered by poor regions, while richer receiving regions benefit. Hotspots were also significantly more threatened than the global mean indicating the need for conservation efforts. Protection levels of sending region hotspots for flows to Germany were slightly higher than the global protection level (14.9%) for existence and bequest (20.0%) and birdwatching (15.5%), while for Dutch sending region hotspots protection levels (13.4%, and 12.6% respectively) were slightly lower than the global level.

Our findings could be used to clarify that external land is used to provide cultural ecosystem services, and to raise awareness of potential interregional dependencies and responsibilities.

Full talk
ID: 701 / 216R: 5
216R Equity and justice in telecoupled land systems: evaluative and transformative perspectives
Keywords: justice, sustainability, telecoupling, land conflicts

Sustainable and just development in Myanmar: land disputes between commercial interests, nature conservation and human well-being

Flurina Schneider1, Lara Maria Lundsgaard-Hansen1, Gwendolin Julie Zähringer1, Win Myint2, Nwe Nwe Tun2, Christoph Oberlack1, Melanie Feurer1, Katharina Nydegger1, Peter Messerli1

1University of Bern, Switzerland; 2ECCSi, Myanmar

In the same year 2015, when the Myanmar people elected a new civil government, Myanmar representatives also endorsed the global UN 2030 Agenda with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Hence, Myanmar currently faces a double challenge: the transition from a military to a democratic government, and the evolution along a sustainable development pathway. Competition over land is at the core of many related development questions: farmers, businessmen, investors, national and international governments and NGOs compete for access to and decision-making power on the use of land. Against this background, this article unravels current land use transitions and disputes, their causes and consequences, and discusses promising transformative pathways for more sustainable and just development.

Results show that recent dynamics led to a change of subsistence and shifting cultivation based land use systems to fiercely contested land systems due to diverging interests manifested through commercial, conservation, and political activities of local, but also national and international actors. Hence, while local villagers actively engage in these activities, decisions on regional development are increasingly taken by powerful actors at places and scales beyond the local systems. However, implications for people living in the area are multifaceted. On the one hand, they stress that their wellbeing considerably improved in many aspects such as health, and food security; on the other hand, they deplore lost access to land, water and forest resources. In several cases, initial challenges could be turned into more positive outcomes through mediation and brokering activities of boundary actors. In conclusion, this analysis will reveal critical development challenges and pathways in Myanmar, as land disputes unfold between commercial interests, nature conservation and human well-being.

Flash talk
ID: 807 / 216R: 6
213R Land tenure (security) and land use (change)
Keywords: land tenure form, land tenure security, forest-cover change, agricultural expansion, multi-scale analysis

Untangling the effects of land tenure on agriculture-forest dynamics in Latin America

Andrea Pacheco, Carsten Meyer

German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Germany

Land tenure form (e.g., private vs. public ownership) and land tenure security can affect commodity cropland expansion and associated changes in forest cover (hereafter “agriculture-forest dynamics”) through a complex array of causal pathways and mechanisms, with diverse socioeconomic and environmental implications. However, while theories from various disciplines and extensive case-studies can link land tenure form and/or security to agriculture-forest dynamics, the hypothesized relationships remain insufficiently tested, and their generality unclear. Moreover, interpretation of effect sizes is often challenging as land tenure form/security may simultaneously affect agriculture-forest dynamics in different directions via different causal pathways, which, however, are rarely considered jointly in analyses. A further key constraint is that data on tenure form/security to formally test the hypothesized relationships is generally scarce and oftentimes restricted to localized household data or aggregated national-level indicators, but lacking specifically at the intermediate landscape scales where agriculture-forest dynamics become most apparent. To address these challenges, this study proposes a systematic, multi-scale approach for formally testing and comparing the hypothesized effects of land tenure form/security on agriculture-forest dynamics. We will present initial evidence from Latin America, a globally important region for commodity crop production with a comparably high availability of land tenure data, to showcase the utility of our approach in elucidating these complex social-ecological relationships.

Full talk
ID: 615 / 216R: 7
217R The role of farm and field size for food security, environmental sustainability, and social justice

Mapping hotspots of land cover change, water conflict, and food insecurity in Cambodia

Emma Johansson, Stefan Olin, Jonathan Seaquist

Lund University, Sweden

About 800 000 hectares of land, equal to 4.5% of Cambodia’s total land area, and 21% of arable land have been contracted to foreign and domestic investors since year 2000. This trend has led to rapid land use and land cover changes, as small-scale farms (1 to 4 ha) and protected forests have turned into large-scale monocultures (usually 10000 ha). The monocultures are predominantly planted with water-intensive crops like rubber, sugarcane, and palm oil, which are non-edible and thus cause great societal concerns for safe access to both water and food. This research explores the effects that land acquisitions have on land use and land cover, water resources, and food security. We link distant drivers (like EU polices that facilitate trade with least developed countries) to their socio-environmental effects elsewhere (land acquisitions in Cambodia), and thereafter use network analysis to map the locations to where natural resources (e.g. land and water), embedded in crop production, are exported. Additionally, we use the dynamic global vegetation model LPJ-GUESS to assess nation-wide socio-environmental effects on land, water, and food production, by comparing the past land use and land cover with the present in order to highlight hotspots of potential water conflict and food insecurity. By understanding socio-environmental drivers, effects, and trade flows, it is possible to identify the different actors in the land acquisition system, which enable new insights for crafting responses and policies that will ensure sustainable development for local populations.

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