I am an environmental social scientist studying environmental (in)justice in Europe. Over the last decade, my different research projects have focused on justice issues posed by the governance of agricultural biodiversity, the conservation of protected areas, the intensification of land-use changes, and the transformation of rural landscapes in Europe, among others. I have conducted mixed-method research in Belgium, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, and worked in collaboration with environmental scientists, legal scholars, philosophers, agronomists, geographers, anthropologists, and environmental economists. Since 2017, I started developing a series of projects aiming at diversifying the field of environmental justice research, both conceptually (beyond liberal approaches) and geographically (in Europe).
My research findings have been published in journals like Nature Sustainability, BioScience, Biological Conservation, the Journal of Rural Studies, Ecology & Society, and Global Environmental Politics, to name a few, and I have edited the recently published Environmental Justice: Key Issues (Routledge), the first textbook to offer a comprehensive and accessible overview of the field of environmental justice studies. I have also (co)authored several research reports on environmental policy for the European Commission, the Belgian government, and the UK House of Commons (see publications section).
During my PhD, my work aimed at understanding the meaning and importance of justice challenges posed by the conservation of agricultural biodiversity, and the way in which conservation is being used to achieve justice in Western European farming contexts. Through extensive interviews and participant observation, and drawing on Nancy Fraser’s theory of justice, I showed how, beyond the rather straightforward climate adaptation goals, conservation efforts are being used by farming communities to redistribute or communalize resources; to combat harmful public policy; to re-anchor agricultural science in environment-specific practices and collective knowledge; to (re)build common forms of rural identity and citizenship; and/or to encourage self-determination and the empowerment of farmers.
I am currently leading the ‘Just conservation’ project funded by the French Foundation for Research on Biodiversity, in which our research team analyses how concerns for justice and equity are approached by biodiversity conservation practitioners, and how this influences conservation effectiveness. I’m also a Co-Investigator on the ‘Just Scapes’ project, a 3-year research project funded by the European consortium JPI Climate addressing the justice challenges posed by the transformation of rural landscapes in Europe.
Research projects, grants and prizes
- 2020. Environmental justice analysis to advance rural transformations in the face of climate change (Just-Scapes). Funded by JPI Climate/ANR. Role: Co-Investigator, WP lead (PI: Adrian Martin, UEA)
- 2020. Farmer-led Strategies for Local Livestock: Resisting Factory Farming in the Global South. Funded by the Tiny Beam Fund. Role: Co-PI with Kristin Reynolds (The New School)
- 2019-2022. Just Conservation. Linking theories and practices of justice in biodiversity conservation. Funded by the French Foundation for Research on Biodiversity (FRB/CESAB). Role: Principal Investigator
- 2016-2017. NERC-funded ESPA-FRONTIERS. Land-use intensification in forest-agriculture frontier landscapes: effects on ecosystem services and poverty alleviation. Role: Co-Investigator (PI: Adrian Martin, University of East Anglia)
- 2013-2015. ERC-funded GENCOMMONS. Institutionalizing global genetic-resource commons. Global Strategies for accessing and using essential public knowledge assets in the life sciences. Role: Researcher (PI: Tom Dedeurwaerdere, UCLouvain)
- 2012-2013. Study for the implementation in Belgium of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing to the Convention on Biological Diversity, funded by the Belgian Federal Ministry of the Environment. Role: Lead researcher.
- 2012. PhD Fellowship, Université catholique de Louvain
- 2011. Henri La Fontaine Award for the best Master thesis in international relations from Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Belgium