Integrative geothermal energy potential in the eastern part of the Inn Valley: A key demo case for resilient geothermal energy supply in Alpine regions
GeoEN-Inntal investigates the possible use of geothermal energy for heating, cooling, heat storage and electricity production in Alpine settlement areas. In times of climate change and required substitution of fossil fuels, the implementation of renewable energy is essential and complies with the aims of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (//sdgs.un.org). Alpine regions might benefit from the availability of on-site renewable energy sources like hydropower, biomass and solar energy, but are often confronted with the limitation of available surface space, strong impact of the surface relief (e.g., shadowing) and a higher risk of negative impacts on health, biodiversity and landscape. Geothermal energy represents a space saving, on-site available and sustainable energy source, which is moreover independent of weather conditions and seasonal changes. Using geothermal energy helps to mitigate the dependency on energy imports, reduces the impact of renewable energy use on surface space consumption, landscape and health. It is moreover capable to provide base load supply not affected by varying external factors. However, geothermal energy still covers a niche inside the energy sector, although it has the potential to make significant contributions to the resilience and sustainability of the energy supply in Alpine regions.
Monitoring and evaluating environmental justice concepts, thought styles and human-environment relations
New paper is out!
Environmental justice concepts have undergone significant changes from being solely distributive to include underlying power asymmetries. Consequently, we are now faced with a wide array of different interpretations of what environmental justice is. This calls for a fundamental reflection on what environmental justice stands for, how and most importantly why it is used.
To achieve this goal, this paper elaborates on the genesis of environmental justice. Recurring challenges of environmental justice research and activism will be identified. Addressing those challenges, as well as breaking down environmental justice concepts into smaller patterns and Fleck’sian thought styles, the Environmental Justice Incommensurabilities Framework (EJIF) is introduced. This evaluation and monitoring tool encourages actors (and especially researchers) to reflect upon ideological positionings and axiological interpretations of human-environment relations as well as justice, making research on and with environmental justice more transparent and comparable.
The current agricultural and food system is dominated by transnational corporations that are based on competition, economic growth and the maximization of profits. This corporate food regime is contested by social movements and producers, which are often locally based and aim for a more sustainable production based on values such as solidarity or trust. In our research project, we focus on those small- and mid-scale initiatives that we understand as values-based modes of production and consumption. Our two concrete examples are community supported agriculture (CSA) and regional food chains. We are interested in the question to what extend these small- and mid-scale bottom-up initiatives have the potential to change the corporate food regime (i.e. the dominant value chains in food production).
Our team comprising Christina Plank (Political Sciences), Rike Stotten (Sociology), and Robert Hafner (Geography) presented our new research approach on values-based modes of production and consumption by applying it to Austrian CSA cases.
Thank you very much for having us – and the interesting questions afterwards!
Hafner, R. (2018): Environmental Justice and Soy Agribusiness. Earthscan Food and Agriculture Series. London: Routledge. ISBN: 978-0-815-38535-6.
Environmental justice research and activism predominantly focus on openly conflictive situations; claims making is central. However, situations of injustice can still occur even if there is no overt conflict. Environmental Justice and Soy Agribusiness fills this gap by applying an environmental justice incommensurabilities framework to reveal the mechanisms of why conflicts do not arise in particular situations, even though they fall within classic environmental justice schemes.
Understanding cultural contexts of SDG implementations was at the core of two AGEF projects, financed by ASEA UNINET. In close cooperation with the Universitas Gadjah Mada in Yogyakarta and the Sebelas Maret University in Surakarta, local-regional implications of Sustainable Development Goals 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and 15 (Life on Land) have been analysed and put in a South-North-South (South America – Europe – Indonesia) comparison. Continue reading “Project with Indonesia: Cultural contexts of SDGs in a South-North-South perspective”
Foodways are socioeconomic and cultural practices related to food production and consumption. Food heritage is a strong identity source for alpine populations. It goes beyond products to include productive landscapes and traditional knowledge on production techniques, consumption customs and rituals, and the transmission of ancient wisdom. Depopulation, ageing population and globalization put Alpine food heritage at risk of disappearing. The project will create a sustainable development model for peripheral mountain areas based on the preservation/valorization of Alpine Space cultural food heritage and on the adoption of innovative marketing and governance tools. It will also foster the emerging of a transnational alpine identity based on the common cultural values expressed in food heritage. Continue reading “AlpFoodway”
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