I am Executive Director of the Global Land Programme (www.glp.earth) of Future Earth. My work and research aim to improve understanding of how land systems serve as the ‘meeting ground’ for multiple claims on land for livelihoods, biodiversity, carbon, food production, among others. Throughout my work, I seek to co-design and co-produce knowledge and link science to action towards just and better futures for people and nature.
I am an integrative geographer, employing the interdisciplinary toolbox of land systems science to build systemic understandings of contemporary dynamics of economic globalization, land governance, and tenure security and their interactions with land use and livelihood processes.
My research is also informed by over 20 years of experience in natural resource management, community environmental governance, and land tenure/land use processes on the ground in Central and South America and West Africa. I have worked in a wide range of development contexts, from war to post-conflict reconstruction in Guatemala and El Salvador, and as a development practitioner, UN peacekeeper, and researcher. My doctoral research on conflict, land reform and land use in El Salvador supported a deeper understanding of challenges and solution spaces linking peacemaking and environmental governance in post-war Latin America.
In our NASA Land-Cover and Land-Use Change (LCLUC) synthesis project, “The Global Land Rush: A Socio-Environmental Synthesis” (2017- 2022), we develop an integrated synthesis of large-scale land acquisitions (LSLAs) employing case studies in Argentina, Cambodia, and Laos to advance synthesis methods for understanding linked socio-environmental causes and consequences of land change.
Since 2016, I have held an appointment as Senior Scientist at the Centre for Development and Environment at the University of Bern, Switzerland.
Areas of Interest
- Socio-economic telecouplings and interactions with land-use change processes
- Environmental governance, land tenure/land use, and resource rights (i.e., large scale conservation initiatives, REDD and forest carbon initiatives)
- Role of global research networks in transformations to sustainability
Degree TypePh.DDegree DetailsEnvironmental Studies, University of California - Santa Cruz
Degree TypeBADegree DetailsInternational Affairs/Latin American Studies, University of Colorado - Boulder
In the face of rapid and wide-reaching environmental and social change, science should provide solutions for societal transformations toward sustainability. As a systemic science focused on complex socio-ecological interactions around land use and associated trade-offs and synergies, land system science is well situated to contribute to this agenda. Thus, in my research practice, I seek to be aware and intentional about the normative implications of my research topics, questions, and results and structure my research towards key questions capable of contributing to societal transformations.
Board Member, Community Agroecology Network