Environmental Emergency: Demanding for Urgent, Radical Transformations

Environmental Emergency: Demanding for Urgent, Radical Transformations

“Here at the University, we take part in multidisciplinary research relating to the environment and the multiple crises currently happening within it, and we want to use our platform and expertise as researchers to take and demand for urgent action.

We are living in a time of environmental emergency created by human actions. It is clear that out ways of life, especially here in the Global North, are not aligned with the carrying capacity of our common home planet, the Earth. Solving the environmental crises should be today’s political priority. What is at stake is life itself, both human and non-human. As important as individual choices can be, the changes that are needed are far bigger in scale, and must be enacted through the political system. We need structural, wide-ranging transformations in order to tackle the climate crisis in a socially just way, and we need them now.”

With these words, Development Studies PhD candidate Sanna Komi opened a silent vigil for the environmental emergency on Friday. The event was arranged by Development Studies in cooperation with Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science HELSUS, The University of Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (HCAS), The Student Union’s Environmental Committee and the Elokapina initiative as a part of the Global Climate Strike week. After the opening speech, a silent moment of 11 minutes was held to mark the 11 years that we have according to last year’s Intergovernmental Planetary Climate Committee’s (IPCC) report to tackle climate change before it’s impacts become irreversible and truly catastrophic. The silent moment was followed by the sound of a bell as a call for action, and short speeches from representatives of the different organisers as well as University of Helsinki students.

Professor of World Politics Teivo Teivainen reading University of Helsinki rector’s letter of support for the event (pictures courtesy of Saana Hokkanen)

This action is accompanied by an open letter to the Prime Minister of Finland and the Mayor of Helsinki, in which we demand for radical and urgent policy initiatives to tackle this emergency.

You can sign the letter here: http://chng.it/dYWyrmnD

Associate professor of Development Studies Markus Kröger urging for sanctions on Brazilian goods due to the ongoing burning of the Amazon and other Brazilian rainforests. (pictures courtesy of Saana Hokkanen)

We would like to thank everyone who came to show their support, and encourage everyone to take action during this climate strike week, which will culminate in climate marches in different Finnish cities on Friday 27.9.

Throughout the week, Elokapina is arranging focused demonstrations and workshops:

Monday 23.9.: The Red List Reading, where the entire list of 2700 endangered species in Finland is read 4 times during the day: https://www.facebook.com/events/2695678497110594

Monday 23.9.: Nonviolent direct action training: https://www.facebook.com/events/2409273232675241

Tuesday 24.9.: Climate anxiety workshop with Panu Pihkala: https://www.facebook.com/events/1564048937063293

Friday 27.9.: Climate Strike March

Helsinki: https://www.facebook.com/events/929882457363184/

Tampere: https://www.facebook.com/events/974490042916201/

Turku: https://www.facebook.com/events/2233521740091425/

Event: Brown Bag Lunch Seminar with Katy Machoa

Plurinacionalidad: Mujeres Amazónicas de Pastaza y Nankints – Plurinationality: Amazonian Women from Pastaza and Nankints

(the presentation will be in Spanish; written translation in English)

Date: Thursday, August 15th
Time: 12:00-13:00
Venue: Unioninkatu 35, 3rd floor, room 344

ABSTRACT: A través de la experiencia organizativa en el que irrumpen las mujeres amazónicas de Pastaza y Nankints en un escenario adverso en donde el estado moderno/colonia/capitalista se encuentra legitimado expongo tanto las estrategias resistencia como las de dominación que son ejercidos sobre estos procesos organizativos para el debilitamiento del autogobierno y autonomía territorial. En este escenario políticamente desfavorable para la lucha social, las mujeres amazónicas con su pedagogía trazan el camino de la defensa territorial. En este contexto, sostengo que la plurinacionalidad tiene un doble carácter. Por un lado en la Constitución en el que aparece lejana, inalcanzable, inclusive como sin vida, y por el otro es dinámica y vital cuando es tomada, interpretada, codificada, apropiada y reapropiada por las experiencias de la defensa del territorio.

Through the organizational experience in which Amazonian women from Pastaza and Nankints break into an adverse scenario where the modern / colonial / capitalist state is legitimized, I expose resistance and domination strategies that are exercised in organizational processes for self-government and territorial autonomy. In a politically unfavorable scenario of social struggle, Amazonian women use their pedagogy toi trace the path of territorial defense.
In this context, I argue that plurinacionality has a double character. On the one hand, in the Constitution it appears distant, unattainable, and lifeless, and on the other it is dynamic and vital when it is interpreted, codified, specifically and re-appropriated by the experiences of the territorial defense.


Katy Machoa, de la nacionalidad kichwa amazónica de Shamato, como ex-dirigente de la Mujer de la CONAIE (2014-2017), lideró la defensa de los derechos humanos y colectivos a través de la campaña Resistir es mi derecho, por la defensa del territorio a nivel nacional e internacional. Dentro de sus esfuerzos se incluye la defensa del sistema intercultural bilingüe SEIB y el libre acceso a la educación superior para la juventud de los pueblos y nacionalidades del Ecuador. Katy ha terminado su Maestría en estudios Latinoamericanos en la UASB y actualmente colabora en el proyecto de investigación de la Academia de Finlandia Goal 4+: Including Eco-cultural Pluralism in Quality Education in Ecuadorian Amazonia (2018-2022).

Katy Machoa is part of the Kichwa Community of Shamato. As a former leader of the Women of the CONAIE (2014-2017), she led the defense of human and collective rights through the campaign Resistir es mi derecho [Resist is my right], participating in the struggle of indigenous women for the defense of the territory nationally and internationally. She is active for the defense of the intercultural bilingual education system and the free access to higher education for the youth of the peoples and nationalities of Ecuador. Katy holds a Master’s Degree in Latin American Studies at the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar, Quito, and currently works in the research project of the Academy of Finland Goal 4+: Including Eco-cultural Pluralism in Quality Education in Ecuadorian Amazonia (2018-2022).

Views from the field: Mondanna blog

One of the best parts of Development Studies is the opportunity to live and work with people in different types of communities all over the world. Anna Heikkinen, University of Helsinki Development Studies PhD Researcher, invites you to follow her experience and insights from her field work in the Andes mountains researching water governance in Peru. Her field diary provides fascinating and eloquently written insights into living and researching in the Central Andes of Peru.

Read more here: Field study diaries from the Peruvian Andes

Event: Mining and Indigenous Peoples in the Arctic – Panel Discussion

Date: Tuesday, May 28th
Time: 17:00-19:00
Venue: Think Lounge (upstairs in the Think Corner, Yliopistonkatu 4, 00100 Helsinki

Event description:

The collision between mining and indigenous lifeways is heating up in the Nordic region. Permits are currently pending to expand mineral extraction in Sápmi, the Artic region spanning four national governments (Finland, Norway, Russia and Sweden), which is home to indigenous Sami peoples. Mining has already increased in the Barents region of Sápmi, and likely to soon be in issue also in Finland. How this collision is managed over the next decades may well be decisive for the future of indigenous lifeways in the Artic.

Meanwhile, similar collisions, with similar stakes, are raging also elsewhere in the Arctic (and across the globe). The localized responses of indigenous peoples around the world to the pressures of mining are widely diverse, and take place in hugely complex configurations. This public event will bring together and engage representatives from various stakeholder groups and sectors, including the mining industry, indigenous peoples, government, and civil society organizations – with experiences and examples shared also from other regions in the Arctic (Canada, Sweden, Norway, Greenland). What can we in Finland learn from experiences elsewhere in the Arctic, so as not to repeat the same mistakes? How does Finland’s mining law meet these and other challenges? What would be the impact of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) (between the EU and Canada) on Europe’s only indigenous people, based on experiences elsewhere? Who has the final rights and power to veto or approve a mining claim on Sámi territory?

With this panel discussion, we hope to evoke the complexity and messiness of real-world processes, whilst finding conflict-free ways forward. The aim of the event is to give space to reflection on the experiences and accomplishments of evolving political strategies from a comparative perspective.

17.00-17.05 – Welcome and Opening Words – Jeremy Gould, Professor Emeritus in Anthropology, University of Helsinki

17.05-17.15 – What does research have to say about the legal rights, processes and impacts of new mining ventures on indigenous territory? A brief overview summarizing findings and discourse in the scientific literature – Mark Nuttall,

Professor and Henry Marshall Tory Chair of Anthropology, University of Alberta, Canada

17.15-18.00 – PANEL DISCUSSION

Moderator: Aili Pyhälä, Adjunct Professor, Lecturer in Development Studies, University of Helsinki


Mark Nuttall – Professor of Anthropology, University of Alberta, Canada

Anne Nuorgam – University of Lapland; Member of Saami Parliament (Finland)

Terho Liikamaa – Director of TUKES Mining Centre

Heta Heiskanen – PhD, Tampere University, ALL-YOUTH STN project

Päivi A. Karvinen –Finnish Ministry of the Environment

18-00-19.00 – Q&A – from the floor

Event: Brown Bag Lunch Seminar with Charles Gore

Brown Bag Seminar on Reading and Writing UNCTAD’s Least Developed Countries Report
Tuesday 11th June
Unioninkatu 35, 3rd floor, room 344

ABSTRACT: Global reports written in international organizations, such as UNCTAD, UNIDO, UNDESA and ILO, offer a useful and often neglected source of information, research and policy analysis on developing countries and the international system.

Based on my experience as lead author and director of UNCTAD’s Least Developed Countries Report from 2000 to 2012, this seminar will provide an inside look at how these reports are written and also how to read them.

Some of the key findings in the sequence of LDC Reports from 2000 to 2010 will be used as examples. These covered issues such as: capital flows to LDCs; poverty trends in LDCs; PRSPs; the relationship between trade and poverty; the HIPC initiative; STI and knowledge for development; aid effectiveness and the problem of ownership; development governance; progress towards MDGs; and the effectiveness of international support measures for least developed countries.

BIOGRAPHY: Charles Gore is a Visiting Scholar in Development Studies in the University of Helsinki from January to June 2019. He is an Honorary Professor in Economics at the University of Glasgow, a Research Associate in Global Studies at the University of Sussex, a Non-Resident Senior Research Fellow at UNU-WIDER and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (UK). Between 1999 and 2008, he was team leader and principal author of UNCTAD’s Least Developed Countries Report, and from 2008 until 2012 he was Special Coordinator for Cross-Sectoral Issues, directing research on Africa and on least developed countries in UNCTAD.

Originally trained in economic geography, he has a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree from the University of Cambridge and a Ph.D., based on two years fieldwork in Ghana, from Pennsylvania State University. He was a Lecturer in Development Studies at the University of Wales from 1976 to 1991, and during that time he wrote Regions in Question (Methuen 1984, re-issued 2011 in Routledge Revivals), and worked as a consultant for UNCTAD on why landlockedness is a development problem and what to do about it. In the 1990s he worked more closely with UN agencies in Geneva, writing chapters for UNCTAD’s Trade and Development Report (1994, 1997, 1998), and managing two multi-country research projects – one (in UNCTAD) on lessons of East Asian development for Africa, and another (in the International Institute for Labour Studies, ILO) on the global applicability of the concept of social exclusion.

His academic publications examine the nature of the explanations, normative judgements and discursive narratives which underpin international development practice. Topics addressed include: how geographic space is linked to development in explanations of regional development; methodological nationalism and the misunderstanding of East Asian development; the nature of the Washington Consensus; Amartya Sen’s concepts of entitlement and capability; and the romantic violence of the MDGs. He is currently working on a history of how the idea of poverty went global in the 1970s, which is part of a broader examination of the concept of global goals.

New Book: Kaakkois-Aasia – Talous, ympäristö ja yhteiskunta

This is the first Finnish-language multidisciplinary textbook on contemporary Southeast Asia, focusing on the region’s societal change, development, economies, cultural diversities and environmental issues. The book is published by Gaudeamus and edited by Erja Kettunen. Three of the eight authors are from our discipline: Mira Käkönen, Anu Lounela and Anna Salmivaara.

More information: https://www.gaudeamus.fi/kaakkoisaasia/

For online purchase: https://kauppa.gaudeamus.fi/sivu/tuote/kaakkois-aasia/2450984

Short descripition in Finnish: Kaakkois-Aasian taloudellinen ja kulttuurinen merkitys on alati vahvistumassa. Kaakkois-Aasia – Talous, ympäristö ja yhteiskunta on ensimmäinen suomenkielinen alueen nykykehitystä esittelevä teos. Se pureutuu alueen talouteen, ympäristöön ja yhteiskuntaan sekä piirtää kuvan monikulttuurisesta ja poliittisesti kirjavasta mutta myös dynaamisesta ja keskinäiseen yhteistyöhön pyrkivästä maailmankolkasta. Teos on tärkeää luettavaa alueen maiden parissa työskenteleville ja kaikille Kaakkois- Aasiasta kiinnostuneille.

Event: Brown Bag Lunch Seminar with Tristan Partridge and Nidia Catherine Gonzalez Pineros

Double Brown Bag Seminars on indigenous communities and conservation in Ecuador and Colombia on Wed 22 May at 11:00 until 13:00, Unioninkatu room 344
Tristan Partridge (UAB-ICTA): Indigenous community conservation in highland Ecuador: mobilizing the commons and ‘Buen Vivir’
Nidia Catherine Gonzalez Pineros (Bologna and Santo Tomas): Dialogues between knowledge systems (indigenous territoriality / western territoriality) in rainforest beyond capitalism.

Tristan Partridge

In highland Ecuador, efforts to protect landscapes and sustain livelihoods have been strengthened by renewed political organizing. This includes action at the local level (recovering shared resources and managing the commons) and nationally (engaging with constitutional rights to ‘Buen Vivir’ or ‘Harmonious Living’). Based on ethnographic fieldwork with the indigenous community of San Isidro, this paper explores how commons resources have been repurposed to meet contemporary community needs and to facilitate cooperation with neighbouring communities. These actions further facilitated successful protest movements against the local expansion of agro-industrial plantations and in defense of Buen Vivir – with repercussions for how we think about links between the commons, conservation, and political mobilization.

Tristan Partridge is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the ICTA Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona) working on environmental justice and indigenous political action. He received a Ph.D. in Social Anthropology from the University of Edinburgh and has conducted fieldwork in Ecuador, the UK, India, and the US. Through projects on land and water rights, energy, and community organizing, his research examines the use and extraction of natural resources and the uneven distribution of related socio-ecological impacts. He is an affiliated Research Fellow at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

url: https://ictaweb.uab.cat/personal_detail.php?id=4074
twitter: @TristanPartridg

Nidia Catherine Gonzalez Pineros


This presentation focuses on the knowledge of indigenous territoriality in rainforest and its importance for the provision of global goods such as biodiversity, public health and food security. In developing countries national forestry policies and private investment still pursue the maximisation of timber and mineral resources productivity, rather than investing in carbon neutral goods or in cultural ecological heritage. This presentation shows how shifting cultivation in agroforestry represents an empirical use of connectedness, showing how it can lead toward a collaborative perspective of values on human-nature relationship to solve contemporary problems related to forestry management. These practices are common enough to be called principles, evidence of these systems is common in Asia, Africa and South America. The circulation of knowledge across multiple levels of governance require new methodologies and new modes of governing resources.  

Nidia Catherine Gonzalez Pineros is a research fellow in innovation on governance and climate change at the School of Political and Social Sciences, University of Bologna, Italy & Universidad Santo Tomas, Colombia. Her work focuses on global environmental politics, local governance and REDD+, the role of innovation and institutional change in developing countries in the current post-2015 negotiating process, with a regional specialism in Latin America. She holds a PhD from the Johannes Gutenberg of Mainz, Germany (2005) in Philosophy and Political Science, and a BA from National University of Colombia(2000) in Political Science. She joined University of Bologna in 2014 with 8 years’ experience of academic and policy research in South America and Europe. She is fluent in Italian, German and Spanish, and publish her work in these languages. Her research interest lies in understanding how local and global environmental governance can bridge to solve trans-national environmental problems, and how strategic resources in developing countries can be used to explore alternative mechanisms of regulation including intergenerational rights and new environmental policy instruments. Much of her recent work also explores how socio-technological innovation and institutional transformations produce and reproduce power relations, boundaries / synergies in the global South with implications for “new earth system governance”. She is interested in the empirical dimensions of these dynamics, especially inter scalar innovation processes.


Development Studies Professors Anja Nygren and Barry Gills Ranked Among Top Professors in Finland

In a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Turku, University of Helsinki Development Studies Professors Anja Nygren and Barry Gills were both ranked in the top 10 Social Sciences professors in Finland. The research investigated the international level of scientific publications in different broad disciplines by professors from Finnish universities. You can read the article (in Finnish) here.

Congratulations Anja and Barry!

Upcoming Event: The Arts for Justice: Indigenous Coalition Building and Artistic Activism

The Arts for Justice, 

Indigenous Coalition Building and Artistic Activism

April 15that 9:15–17:00

University of Helsinki, lecture room 5 (Fabianinkatu 33) 

Seminar organized by Indigenous Studies and Environmental Humanities/ University of Helsinki and University of Arts Helsinki

This seminar discusses the contemporary engagements with artistic forms of evidencing, communicating, and resisting, such as visual arts, performance, theatre, writing, film, video, eco-media and social media that address environmental and social justice and Indigenous rights. How are various constituencies showcasing Indigenous ways of knowing and being, as well as calling for actions and approaches that challenge dominant practices, such as extractivism, pipelines, land grabbing, and other threats to Indigenous values and homelands? How might artistic activism contribute to building coalitions across nations and differences? What techniques are used to reach audiences and what possible changes can result? What can be evidenced by the arts? The participants are both artists and researchers, sharing their works and ideas, and then we encourage the participants to take part in the conversation in which we will learn from each other.

Preliminary schedule:

9:15 Opening words by the organisers 

9:30–10:30 Keynote by Marja Helander (Sámi visual and video artist)

10:30–10:45 Coffee

10:45–12:15  Panel discussion 1 (facilitator Lea Kantonen): 

Sasha Huber (artist and University of Arts Helsinki), Eeva-Kristiina Harlin (University of Oulu), Pirjo K. Virtanen (University of Helsinki), Cheryl J. Fish (City University of New York) 

12:15–13:30 Lunch

13:30–14:15 Keynote by May-Brit Öhman (University of Uppsala):   

14:15–14:30 Coffee

14:30–16:00 Panel discussion 2 (facilitator Cheryl J. Fish):

Stina Roos (Sámi artist), Klisala Harrison (University of Helsinki), Lea Kantonen (University of Arts Helsinki), Hanna Guttorm (University of Helsinki)

16:00–16:45 Student works’ presentation 

16:45–17:00  End circle 

17:00  Wine reception & Poster Exhibition by the students in the course Biocultural approaches to the environment and conservation (IND-512)

Please Register by April 5https://elomake.helsinki.fi/lomakkeet/97035/lomake.html

Organisers: Pirjo Kristiina Virtanen, Hanna Guttorm–University of Helsinki; Lea Kantonen–University of Arts Helsinki; Cheryl J. Fish-City University of New York

Project: Eco-cultural Pluralism in Ecuadorian Amazonia

For the past year, Development Studies Senior Lecturer Paola Minoia has been part of the team working on the  Goal 4+: Including Eco-cultural Pluralism in Quality Education in Ecuadorian Amazonia project. The project builds upon Sustainable Development Goal 4 (ensuring quality education for all), by promoting inclusion of indigenous ways of teaching and recognition of eco-cultural pluralism in education in Ecuadorian Amazonia. The project is funded by the Academy of Finland and is running from March 2018 until February 2022. Check out their blog regularly to read about the project, the experiences of the researchers, and see photos from their work!