Year of selection 2016
Institution Universitat Central de Catalunya
In some regions more than others, climate change threatens to jeopardize human security, local livelihoods, common-pool resources, and food security. European, and especially Mediterranean, agri-food systems in marginal rural areas are particularly exposed to these risks due to ageing population and fragile socio-economic systems. To deal with such challenges, rural areas need to develop adaptation strategies that substantially and lastingly reduce their vulnerability. Aware of the fact that in-depth adaptation calls for extensive knowledge of local social, cultural and environmental context, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has stressed the need to pay more attention to local processes of social innovation and transformational adaptation by means of local experiences, knowledge, institutions and practices. Echoing this call for action and recognizing the need to take all perspectives and potentialities into account, Dr. Federica Ravera is investigating the role and experience of women when it comes to the risks associated with climate change in agri-food systems. Her objective is to study potential factors that influence the success of adaptation options. Focusing her research on two Mediterranean rural areas, her project ultimately aims to envision future and promising pathways for adaptation to climate change taking everyone's specific needs and voices into account.
"Climate change strategies are not always designed to suit everyone. Change can produce both winners and losers, excluding some people from the equation", Dr. Federica Ravera points out. "What my project aims to encourage is to take everyone's specific conditions into account and build on everyone's knowledge to contribute to the development of long-lasting and transformational solutions". Within the agri-food system, not everyone is equal when it comes to climate change risks. Age, gender, socio-economic class, among other identitary and structural factors, intersect entailing power inequalities and differential perceptions, knowledge and practices related to agriculture, livestock and food management. It can also imply differential ways of organising collective actions. "To date, the role that women and marginal groups play or might play in the transmission of knowledge and in institutional arrangements for adaptation has been neglected in climate change policies and research", Dr. Federica Ravera stresses. "The general objective of my research is thus to assess the gendered and intersectional nature of key risks under climate change with the aim of evaluating the potential factors that may facilitate or hinder successful adaptation options in Mediterranean marginal rural areas".
A feminist philosophy of science applied to the mitigation of climate change
In parallel with her exploration of the position and role of women and to ensure her research captures a full picture of the local context, Dr. Federica Ravera will make a survey of the current ways in which novelty in institutional arrangements and social inclusion mechanisms actually influence the adaptive capacity of the local agri-food systems studied. The project will also explore the ways and means by which successful innovative practices can emerge and be diffused among traditional farming society, culture and management. The overall aim is to fill in the gaps in knowledge pointed out by the IPCC and to lay the foundations for re-focusing of the issue of adaptive capacity. "If we want to efficiently adapt to climate change, we need to broaden the current spectrum of actors involved and take into account marginalized people, among which are different groups of women whose invisibility may also intersect with multiple identitary and structural factors that define power dynamics By including and giving a voice to these highly-relevant actors of the agri-food systems, opportunities of new knowledge and innovation for climate change will arise", summarises Dr. Federica Ravera.
By adopting a feminist philosophy of science and applying it to the mitigation of the impact of climate change on agriculture and food, Dr. Federica Ravera's project will significantly contribute to broader and more accurate vision of the actual risks that highly-exposed regions face with climate change. Building on a better understanding of everyone's situation and involvement will provide new insight and perspectives on how to sustainably and substantially adapt to the challenges of tomorrow's climate.