With a research portfolio that engages across three disciplines, i.e. Human Geography, Development Studies, and Land-Use Science, I’m a political ecologist building knowledge on the environmental and wellbeing outcomes of climate change and biodiversity conservation policies, and producing scientific findings that inform global policies for sustainable land use. Over the last five years, my research efforts have assessed incentive-based environmental initiatives, such as Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES), the UN Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) framework, and biodiversity offsetting. These are being promoted by governments and multilateral organizations worldwide in order to align with the objectives of the 2015 Climate Change Paris Agreement, the 2011 EU Biodiversity Strategy, and the 2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals. My research – both individual and collaborative – draws on original data collected through situated ethnography, interviews, surveys, discourse and social network analysis, and spatial assessments of land-use change.
I have produced knowledge on these initiatives in at least three ways. First, I have demonstrated that PES and land-use REDD initiatives can induce conflict, as well as exacerbate social and gender inequalities, particularly when these policies fail to integrate environmental and socio-political histories, including local institutions. Second, I have analyzed the motivations underpinning people’s engagement with such policies, and cast doubt on their potential to change people’s values – and eventually practices – about resource use. Finally, I have interrogated the politics of knowledge production in related scientific endeavors, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and global research programs on ecosystem services and poverty, to show they favor knowledge generated by Northern academic institutions and also fail to include the humanities when devising policy solutions.