“In my dream god was a short Scottish woman dressed in tweed” (S. M. Redpath)

And she told Prof. Redpath and Michelle Obama that there is no problem in relocating native people.

You see this is going to be interesting. Yesterday Stephen M. Redpath, Scottish ecologist and conservation scientist, held a lecture about conservation conflict management at SLU. Since he is the 21st holder of the King Carl XVI Gustaf Professorship in Environmental Sciences, H.M. himself attended the lecture as well. The King brought excellent weather to Uppsala and in trade got a really interesting program I think.

Left: Landscape around SLU at sunset yesterday; Right: All flags up for the King

After a short introduction by Rector Peter Högberg, Prof. Henrik Andrén (SLU), Professor Redpath (University of Aberdeen), Prof. Maria Johansson (Lund University) and Prof. Camilla Sandström (Umeå University) each approached conservation conflicts from slightly different perspectives. Unfortunately for me, my non-Swedish seating neighbor – and Mr. Redpath I am afraid – three out of the four talks were held in Swedish. Although I am not sure I understood everything correctly, the Swedish speakers seemed to complement Prof. Redpath quite well.

Prof. Andrén gave an overview of the development of different wildlife species in Sweden and I think it was really interesting to see that more or less all their populations have increased during the last century. That obviously increases the threat of conflict between humans and nature.

Prof. Redpath picked up from there, focusing on the conflicts arising between different groups of people as a result of human-animal conflicts. To set our minds at ease, he began his presentation by playing Bach’s “Sheep May Safely Graze”, pointing out that conservation conflicts usually revolve around extremely emotional topics. That is why they quickly (and often) end up in heated and entrenched situations.

I am not an ecologist and I did not know about Prof. Redpath’s work before, but he has been working on some extremely fascinating issues. One of his recent projects is the protection of snow leopards in the Himalayas. In the meager mountain landscape, the predator’s diet can actually drive the people there below the poverty line, so they have been shooting these beautiful creatures. And here is where conflicts among different social groups arise from the natural competition between animals and humans. It is a fundamental conflict between conservation and human welfare, or livelihood, between killing the snow leopards and starving to death.

According to Prof. Redpath the four most common problems in conservation conflict management are (1) a lack of engagement, (2) a focus on ecology, (3) the missing agreement about evidence and (4) the ineffectiveness of interventions. He says that too often problems are managed in a “top-down” manner, which leads social tensions and low implementation rates. Prof. Redpath emphasized that there is a need for more dialogue: between the different parties of a dispute, but also between scientific disciplines. He urges ecologists to open up for interdisciplinarity, because social concepts, such as world views, norms and identities, affect the success of conservation policies significantly. There is often no agreement about evidence, because personal experience frequently does not match with scientific findings. Last but not least, the effectiveness of implemented projects always needs to be tested.

Prof. Stephen Redpath

Overall, Prof. Redpath advertised for a more holistic approach to conservation problems. In the example of the snow leopards, his team is trying out a collaborative approach, where they work together with the locals. They are trying to gain their trust and understanding to change their attitudes towards the animals. To reduce the conflict, there is also a need to generate alternative sources of income for these people. Prof. Redpath concluded that conflicts often can’t be overcome, but managed well and carefully if there is a will to do so. From his personal experience humor and whiskey are amongst the most effective communication strategies 🙂

Prof. Johansson and Prof. Sandström complemented the talk with their insights from environmental psychology and implementation processes of conservation policy in Sweden, respectively.

Maybe you are wondering why you find this post on the blog of an environmental economist. Well, because it is just really interesting. Also, I would like to follow Prof. Repath’s call for interdisciplinarity, as this is an issue concerning not only ecologists, but all scientists who try to solve environmental problems. It is never enough to approach a problem from one side. In the context of environmental issues economics often seems to be standing particularly far away from other disciplines, but I hope that this will change in the future. We should all try to foster cross-disciplinary dialogues instead of our prejudices.

Thanks to SLU and all speakers for a great event yesterday!

I hope you enjoyed reading.

/Franzi

UltiMat Ultuna – Part 2

Hej allihoppa!

Last Monday was the pick-up date for the January food orders at UltiMat, so here comes the second part of the experience!

After studying at SLU during the day on Monady I went to pick up my order in Ulls Hus between 5 and 6 in the afternoon. I think that is about the same time always. You can pay your order in advance by transfering the money. Otherwise you can also swish or pay in cash (If you have the exact amount) when you pick it up.

There were quite some people there and the food was all nicely set up. You could even try out some products (cheese, mhhhh…). I got a list with the things I ordered and then I walked around to collect everything. I bought eggs, honey, garlic, kohlrabi (turnip cabbage), flour and several types of beetroots. I was a little disappointed, because I ordered mixed kohlrabi, but then only got one of one type. My favorite pick was definitely the honey. I recently had honey from a farm in Björklinge, which lies about 20 km North of Uppsala. A friend of mine who was wwoofing over there in September gave me this honey and I really loved it. So I was secretly hoping the one they have at UltiMat would be as good. And guess what: it was actually that exact honey I got! Yeay! I also think that compared to the local or regional honeys in the supermarket it was very reasonably priced (50 SEK).

Beyond are two creations with the beets: (1) A kind of beet-slaw with hering, apple and dill and (2) a dip/ sandwich spread with feta cheese, garlic, red beets and cumin (A half is gone already). 🙂

          

What I really appreciate is that UltiMat has started sending out information about the board meetings to all members. Also they announced to add more information about the producers on their website. You can also find more info and some pictures on UltiMat’s facebook page!

I hope some of you got interested and want to try ordering as well. I’m sure I’ll do it again.

Thanks for reading and have a nice evening!

/Franzi

The Småland Transition

I still can’t believe it, but about two weeks ago I wrote my last exam. I’m not gonna lie to you: it’s an amazing feeling and a great relief to have all the “course work” done. Apart from that I am really excited about working on my master thesis for the next months. While it is a little scary it is also a totally different way of working and THE final spurt, of course.

To celebrate being exam-free and to make the transition towards the thesis mind-set, me and some friends went to a cabin in Småland in Southern Sweden last week. It was a great decision. We worked on our theses a few hours every day and spent the rest of the time out in the forest and in the sauna. I always tend to forget how purifying and recovering nature can be. Now I feel super relaxed and ready to focus on my thesis project, which by the way deals with behavioral effects in the choice of transportation modes, broadly spoken.

Here are some pictures from Småland (credit to Johanna T. for all of them):

UltiMat Ultuna – Part 1

Tjena! [That’s how the reeeaaaally cool kids say hi ;-)]

Today I am finally trying out something I have been looking forward to for weeks: UltiMat Ultuna!

What Is UltiMat Ultuna

UltiMat (swedish “mat” = “food”) is the student union’s non-profit food cooperative. Once a month you can order food from local farmers and you pick it up on the SLU campus. Apart from that UltiMat organizes markets, workshops and field trips to their suppliers I think it’s a great concept and became a member a few months ago, but it was always impossible for me to be here at the pick-up dates. That is why I had to postpone my first order again and again. But “today’s the day I’m gonna make it happen…”

How Does It Work

As this is my first order I am definitely not an expert yet, but it seems super easy. First you have to become a member by seding an email. Be aware that when you first order, you have to pay a membership fee of 25 SEK. After you have signed up you receive a monthly  email with a link to a google document, where you can place your order. The email also tells you the pick-up date and time (~2 weeks later). Then all you need to do is to pay for your order and go pick it up.

What Do They Sell

As far as I know the selection of food varies over the seasons. Right now, they have different sorts of flour, peas, eggs, oats, potatoes, beets, onions, raddish, etc. but also lamb, beef and many different types of cheese on their list.

I am really looking forward to trying this out and I will write a second post once I receive the food! If you are interested in UltiMat, you can find more information in Swedish and English on their website.

Have a great day, everybody!

/Franzi

 

 

 

Jubilee: 25 years of Cemus!

Uppsala’s Center for Sustainable Development, a collaboration between SLU and UU, started the celebrations for its 25th anniversary today. Bengt Gustafsson, professor in astrophysics and one of the supporting founders of Cemus, gave a lecture on the history of the center and the future challenges of sustainability.

While during the 1970s there were already several attempts to start centers for interdisciplinary studies, it took another two decades before students succeeded in establishing the first student-driven course at Cemus. That course was called “Man and Nature” (1992) and attracted more than 500 applications. Cemus was born and has been established over at least 10 generations of students – unfortunately as Bengt remarked “sustainability is a sustainable issue”.

Thus he devoted the second part of his lecture to future problems and challenges. He talked about many issues that concern the Anthropocene (the age of significant human impact on our planet). Some of them like digitalization, globalization or ecosystems are more obvious, but he mentioned things like world views, religion and moral as well. While I agree that a shift from collectivism towards individualism can be seen (at least in many of the Westernized cultures), I think that the Internet was judged a little too hard. Although censorship and surveillance are huge problems in many countries, the World Wide Web allows for tremendous steps in democratization processes or in improvements of certain human rights (such as education). An interesting approach Bengt talked about was the transformation of pilgrims to tourists; the former aiming to see a certain destination and learn about it and the latter more or less walking the Earth blindly. This is obviously too simplified, yet it contains a grain of truth.

What I really liked about Bengt was that he was trying to convince us to shed some hope. He kept coming back to the famous three Japanese apes and the premise that scientists need to see the evil, or bad. It’s their obligation to look at it and to do something about it. While I think this should not only hold for scientists, but for all of us, it was really great to include it in the lecture. Bengt finished off with a few recommendations, three of which I want to share: (1) see and report truthfully, (2) keep up the dialogue with other people and with your own conscience and (3) provide hope for those who have none.

Thanks to Bengt for a really nice talk and some interesting thoughts!

 

Have a good week everybody,

Franzi

Your Plate. Our Planet – The Future of Food

This is a day I have wanted to write about all along, but I didn’t have the time. So may I introduce – with a big fat delay: the Nobel Week Dialogue in Stockholm.

The event is held every year within the scope of the Nobel price, this particular one was on 9 December 2016. It was the first time I visited this dialogue, which aims to bring together science and society. A good timing, I think, as the topic “The Future of Food” was particularly interesting. There were numerous outstanding and renowned experts – among them six Nobel laureates – talking on the issue.

Together with two friends I had signed up for the event weeks in advance, since the number of visitors is limited, of course, and the free tickets “sold” like hot cakes. So on the 9th we took an early train to Stockholm for a fabulous experience.

During the introduction (you could comment or ask questions live using your smartphone), I particularly favored Johan Rockström’s talk. The director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre underlined the importance of scientifically correct positioning of food. He reminded that food production and agriculture are the largest contributors to climate change through high emissions of greenhouse gases, the largest fresh water and land use, as well as a causing major biodiversity loss. He sees the need for a global transition towards a more sustainable food mainstream, which internalizes all externalities (the “real planetary costs”).

Another very impressive person throughout the whole day was Muhammad Yunus. The 2006 Peace Laureate promoted his ideas of social entrepreneurship in different contexts. I have been following up on these issues a bit before, after we had talked about Not-For-Profit businesses in the CEMUS course and I am actually really excited about this problem solving approach. Yunus suggested amusedly that instead of letting banks decide if people are creditworthy, we should ask if the banks are “people worthy”. It was a real pleasure to listen to him.

Many, many issues around food, like the influence of large food corporations, social eating habits, the digitalization of agriculture, initiatives to reduce food waste, etc. were addressed that day. I was a little disappointed about the afternoon panels. We decided to join a panel discussion about whether we can continue to eat meat and one on what it would take to build a sustainable food system. Unfortunately, both questions weren’t really answered. Most of the meat discussion revolved around different production methods and how we can maintain today’s meat consumption habits. Little was said about the possibility of reducing the amount of meat we eat instead.

The day was rounded off more relaxed with a reading by Patti Smith and a talk on creativity and inspiration with the Nobel laureates. Overall it was an amazing experience. Though I didn’t receive the easy answers I was hoping for (but rather many more questions – as always) it was so fun and inspiring.

If you ever have the possibility to be in Stockholm at the right time and you want to be inspired, I can really recommend joining this dialogue.

I wish you all a nice winter weekend!

/Franzi

Happy Holidays & Some Other Stuff

A very late merry Christmas to everyone! I hope you have enjoyed your holidays with family or friends and if you are as lucky as me, you are still on a break (more or less).

The last weeks before Christmas had been super busy for me. We’ve finished up the Cemus course, which came with many hand-ins, assignments and studying for the exam, of course. In this course we had a collective exam, where the whole group needed to work together to collectively pass (or fail) the test. It was a great experience: fun but very stressful at the same time. I must really say that “The Global Economy” was one of the best classes I have ever had and I can only recommend all Economics students to take a course like that. It felt like stepping out of a bubble (for once) and putting your subject into perspective with other disciplines. It surely didn’t train my Math skills, but I got a lot of ideas and inspiration from it. Hopefully I can manage to use this motivation for my upcoming master thesis and job search.

Apart from that, I have been (and I still am) taking the course “Economic Growth and Sustainable Development” at SLU, where we have the exam in January. After that the “only” thing I have left is my thesis, so I am planning on giving a little feedback on the program courses soon.

Hopefully I will have the time to post regularly again once I get back to Uppsala. For now I want to wish you a happy new year 2017. Take care everyone and remember that the deadline for applying to the master programs in Sweden is the 16 January (for the autumn semester!). Find more information here.

Vi ses nästa år!

Franzi 🙂

Allt ljus på Uppsala

To make bearing the long autumn nights easier and to fight darkness depression, Uppsala is holding its fifth annual light festival this month.

On Friday night I took a stroll through town with a friend to take a closer look at several of the objects. We were actually so fascinated by most of the installations that we didn’t manage to do the whole tour. But hopefully I will finish the tour another night.

However, before I felt like a popsicle I managed to take some pictures, which I want to share with you. I warmly recommend everyone who is in Uppsala in November to get out there in the dark and take a look at these bright beauties.

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Next to most of the light installations we found signs, indicating the idea behind the object. This one was called Början (engl. The Beginning) and was to be a tale of the birth of the universe.

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That is my friend Sachi in a light installation which looks very unspectacular on the picture. The clue was that some kind of light show started when you came close. The title of this object was Perspektiv (Perspective). Our daily problems often feel overwhelming. When you enter the piece and  and stand still to look into the stars once when the light show finishes, you should feel as a part of the universe instead of its centre. Even though it was not the best photo  scene, I think it represents an amazing idea. Sachi looks like a really joyful part of the universe, don’t you think?

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The church is obviously the centrepiece of everything here in Uppsala and I must say that its illumination looks just stunning. I love this particular view on it, where the river seems like it’s on fire. Very dramatic.

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This piece was really, really cool, too. It has been made by four landscape architecture students from SLU. It  is called Attraktionskraft ( Attraction) and attracting it was indeed. It felt like you might be sucked through that wormhole 😀

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One last installation I really liked was Fångade stjärnor (Captured Stars) – a tale of how to catch stars.

The light festival is still running until the 27th of November and I hope you will get a chance to look at it. I will definitely go again to check out the installations I have missed. You can find more information about the festival in Swedish and English here!

Ha det så bra! (= Take care!)

Franzi

Winter Wonderland

Much earlier than last year, the onset of winter has arrived here in Sweden.  It happened quite suddenly. The first bit of snow fell last week, but the last two days have been crazy. I was about to write about Pareto’s first Economic Forum tonight, but the guest lecturer couldn’t make it to Uppsala because of the snow!

So I thought I’ll delay the other post and give you some impressions of the truly winterly weather instead. Enjoy!

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Before most of the snow had fallen on SLU campus today

 

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My poor little bike

Pareto Gasque

I must first of all say sorry for the little break. Since the last weeks were really busy for me, I didn’t find the time to blog. Hopefully I’ll manage to make it up to you with many high quality posts during the next weeks.

This Thursday it was time once again for a gasque: a very traditional combination of a more or less formal dinner and a (definitely much less formal) party. And this one was a very special one, if you ask me. It was Pareto’s second gasque for this year – and also its second gasque ever.

Pareto is the student organization of the economics master students at Uppsala University. They arrange study visits, case competitions, course evaluations and are the students’ connection to the department.

Even though Pareto is established at Uppsala University, they have always been very welcoming towards us SLU students as well. Until very recently I was part of the board and mainly involved in planning social events and the welcome activities for this year’s new students. While I left the board to make room for the “new generation”, I am still a member of Pareto and I love to visit their events. So naturally I attended their gasque at Gästrike-Hälsinge Nation on Thursday. The topic was masquerade, so people looked absolutely spectacular. It was so much fun to see how people interpreted the topic.

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A polaroid from the pre-party: Can’t decide which mask or girl I love most!

I am sure the Pareto gasques will become a great and long tradition, as you meet so many friends and familiar faces at these events. To me the economics students often feel like a big family, so I really, really enjoyed that night full of fun speeches, singing, dancing, eating & drinking and even some stand-up comedy.

Except for the fact that the toilets are renovated at the moment, GH was a pretty good choice as a location. The food was very good and the rooms looked great. Of course that was mainly thanks to Anna and Unn, who proved exceptional party planning skills in this event.

Another person who should be applauded was Alex, who did a really great job with the music. The dancefloor was constantly packed until they kicked us out! 🙂

Everyone who doesn’t know about Pareto yet should check out their homepage and facebook site, where we’ll hopefully find some pictures of the gasque soon.

Have a great start into the week!

Franzi

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Even John Maynard Keynes attended the event