Environmental Peace and Development in Colombia: Taking stock and planning forward

December 04, 2023.  


Week 1: Bogota

Members of the ZEF-led DSSP coordination team visited three different campuses of the National University of Colombia (UNAL) in November 2023. The visit was part of the program's annual meeting and also aimed at expanding activities to other regions of Colombia. During the first week in Bogota the team met with the Environmental Studies Institute (IDEA), which is our local partner, to present and discuss the 2023 academic activities and financial reports.

We want to highlight a few of the activities taking place during this first week in Bogota: First, the term-paper presentations by each batch of DSSP’s PhD students. There are five batches who presented ten term papers. The second highlight was a workshop aiming at analyzing and updating the program's research agenda. Former DSSP-coordinator and IDEA-professor Dr. Rosario Rojas Robles contributed to the workshop by opening a session with an interesting overview of the recent changes in the national political setting, related to the new Colombian government and their National Development Plan. After this presentation, about 30 researchers (Masters, PhDs and Postdocs) worked in four groups, one for each topic of the DSSP research agenda. Each working-group discussed three guiding questions: 1. What are the main public debates, perspectives and challenges that have recently emerged under the research topic (nationally and internationally)? 2. What are the main contributions of the research projects to Colombian and/or international society? and 3. What relevant new questions have arisen in the course of the research projects? A third highlight was the celebration of the 25th anniversary of IDEA's Master's Program in Environment and Development (PMAD). During this event, the DSSP team was given special recognition for promoting PMAD’s and IDEA’s internationalization.

The first week ended successfully with a field trip to the municipality of Zipacón, which is a rural area near Bogota. Together with students and other researchers, we visited a project, led by Dr. Orlando Vargas (UNAL Associate Professor), who is working on ecological restoration of the lagoon “Laguna Verde” and part of its surrounding forest. We also visited the project “Etikaverde”, which promotes the protection of the Andean cloud forest through environmental education, agroecology and strategic alliances (see photos below).

Week 2: Manizales

On November 20-21, the DSSP team, consisting of ZEF and IDEA colleagues, participated in the Internationalization Sessions on "Gender and Science in Environmental Research", which were organized by the UNAL Campus in Manizales.

Among the ZEF and DSSP colleagues presenting at these sessions were: ZEF/DSSP project leader Eva Youkhana and Laura Calderon (DSSP-IDEA Academic Coordinator), who talked about the experiences in academic cooperation as well as the main lessons and challenges of joint work in the program over the last five years.Carolina Tobon, (DSSP/ZEF) presented the DSSP research on participatory environmental monitoring (ColPaMon and ASA program). Dennis Avilés (DSSP/ZEF) presented "The Inclusion of the Feminist Perspective in Development Studies", which showed how feminist perspectives have been included in the DSSP. Christian Petersheim (DSSP ZEF) gave an overview of the South-South-North cooperation programs developed in ZEF with different partners in Africa (Ghanaian-German Center for Development Studies (GGCDS) and the West African Center for Sustainable Rural Transformation (WAC-SRT)).

Stop 3: Valledupar and La Paz

After an interesting and enriching exchange in Manizales, the DSSP team travelled to the city of Valledupar, in the country’s north for a visit to UNAL’s most recently founded campus La Paz. This campus has adopted a transdisciplinary and practice-oriented educational approach that promotes inter- and transdisciplinary collaboration and co-learning between students from different disciplines and local communities. This approach converges with the approach promoted by our program’s research agenda. Two days of meetings and discussions allowed us to gain insight into the work areas of this campus, of the main common research topics and enabled us to develop ideas for future collaboration. At the end of this week, our DSSP team met with some professors from this campus and colleagues from the WAC-SRT team (from ZEF and the University of Development Studies (UDS) in Ghana) to plan the next steps in the South-South-North collaboration during 2024.





The trip was taking place November 14-24, 2023
Author: Carolina Tobon, DSSP /ZEF senior researcher.
Photos: ZEF/DSSP-researchers

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