ACCESS - Advancing Capacity for Climate  and Environment Social Science
ACCESS - Advancing Capacity for Climate  and Environment Social Science
Bit of barbed wire fence with grass and buttercups in the background

Dismantling the Legacy: Decolonizing Conservation and Environmental Sectors in UK using a social justice framework


Project team

Jaya Gajparia

Jaya Gajparia
Associate Professor and Primary Investigator
London South Bank University

Megha Kashyup

Megha Kashyap
Decolonising Research Fellow and Co-investigator
London South Bank University

Nadia Shaikh

Nadia Shaikh
Naturalist, Conservationist and Land Justice Activist and Co-investigator

The Project

Using a decolonisation lens and engaging Black Indigenous and Other People of Colour (BIPOC) perspectives and lived experiences of oppression, the research project aims to rethink how the environmental and conservation sector can foster more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable approaches to conservation while recognising how the historical legacies and colonial practices of conservation work continue in the present today.

It is the first time a pilot project of this kind (expert facilitation, residential, renumeration of time, option for participants to be named collaborators in published outputs and therapeutic support) has been developed where BIPOC conservation experts have come together to re-imagine what the sector could become when there is an active reimagining of decoupling historical systems of oppression and power to address the environmental climate crisis.

Methodology

The research objectives encompass a range of interconnected goals. We proposed the network have full autonomy on defining the objectives collaboratively, however, the research team identified three key objectives:

  1. Examine existing conservation policies and practices to identify and address systemic barriers that perpetuate colonial and discriminatory legacies. The community will investigate how policy
    reforms and institutional changes can support decolonised and equitable conservation approaches.
  2. Investigate the historical and ongoing power dynamics within conservation practices, exploring how colonialism and other oppressive systems have shaped resource management, land ownership, and decision-making processes.
  3. Rethink and redefine conservation goals, moving beyond Eurocentric notions of wilderness and preservation. Develop alternative metrics and indicators that value diverse cultural and ecological perspectives, incorporate social justice, equity, and community well-being as essential components of conservation.

Advancing social sciences to address climate and environmental challenges

Central to this project is utilising the expertise from the PI (Jaya) and Co-I (Megha) who are both social scientists. The social sciences offer the theoretical frameworks to challenge and understand dominant paradigms (like oppression, power and colonial history), and incorporate diverse perspectives by recentering the voices of marginalised communities, and by promoting equitable and inclusive approaches to research and policy.

The project will demonstrate the value in understanding the social dimensions of climate change and environmental issues to create transformative change that we see as necessary to address the climate and environmental challenges in the UK.

Guiding Principles

We have used a decolonising research approach to confront historical injustices, amplify marginalised voices, challenge power structures, promote knowledge pluralism, foster environmental justice. The research also draws on the principles of Community of Practice (CoP) which fosters a collaborative and supportive environment.  We have embedded Community of Care within the foundation of this pilot project as we see value in building a supportive and compassionate community where all of the members will collectively take responsibility for each other’s well-being and create a sense of belonging and emotional safety.

Timescales

September to October: submit ethics application, residential planning, participant recruitment, facilitation and therapist.
November: deliver residential.
January 2024: Complete data analysis
February to March: Share outputs and complete funding report

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