Public Seminar - Politics, power and precarity in transformations of swidden social-ecological systems and climate change in Southeast Asia

Brockhaus, M. (Speaker: Presenter)

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesPublic Talks


Public Seminar during the University Kyoto/RIHN Science Day - on the sidelines of the IPCCC meeting and GLF in Kyoto, Japan, 2019

Throughout much of Southeast Asia, what remains as forests outside of protected areas is often found in areas where shifting cultivation or swidden is practiced and where swiddeners – frequently disadvantaged minority peoples – have traditional rights to land and resources. These swidden landscapes, which have supported diverse social, cultural and ecological functions in addition to livelihood needs, are rapidly changing as national political and global economic forces are driving trends towards commodity crops and intensified farming methods. At the same time, there are increasing expectations that these landscapes can contribute to climate change mitigation goals and/or are locations for forest restoration interests.
Yet, this is not a simple linear trajectory of change. Recent studies of swidden change to intensified land uses have shown that social-ecological outcomes vary widely from win-win to lose-lose, with many combinations of win-lose in between. These varied impacts are a result of diverse sets of contextual factors and complex causal relationships reflecting the many ways that swidden households navigate local, regional and global social and economic processes and shape – or are shaped by the politics of forests and forested land, and of climate change.
In this intersection of development and climate change mitigation ambitions, politics and power relations across scales, we ask what is considered as fair in the transformations of swidden landscapes, and for whom? What are the changing flows of ecosystem services, and how are they perceived and used by swiddeners? Who benefits from these transformations, whose interests matter, and what are possible options to ensure greater fairness?
This session presents stories of swidden social and ecological changes taking place within the broader political and economic transformations ongoing in Southeast Asia. This collective work can contribute to a new research agenda required to disentangle the ongoing processes of change to support a more equitable development trajectory for those living in these landscapes.
Moderator: Grace Wong, Stockholm Resilience Centre
1) Shifting cultivation futures: policy obstacles for development in forest-agriculture frontiers – Ole Mertz, University of Copenhagen
2) Development and equity: A gendered inquiry in a swidden landscape – Moira Moeliono, CIFOR
3) Depopulation and aging in rural indigenous communities in Sarawak and effects on their landuse – Masahiro Ichikawa, Kochi University
4) Forty Years of Forests in Rural Villages Revealed by Land-cover Maps and
Social Surveys in Borneo – Shoko Sakai, Kyoto University
5) Discourses of swidden and REDD+: what are implications for equity? – Maria Brockhaus, University of Helsinki
Period14 May 2019
Event typeSeminar
LocationKyoto, Japan