Short Bio​​​​​​​​

I am associate professor at the Institute of Development Policy (IOB), University of Antwerp, Belgium, and associate researcher at Nitlapan-UCA (Universidad Centroamericana), Nicaragua. I hold a PhD in Development Studies (University of Antwerp), an Advanced Master in Environmental Sciences (University of Antwerp) and a Master in Business Engineering (University of Antwerp).

During the past fifteen years I have spent most of my time in Nicaragua, working as a doctoral and postdoctoral researcher on social-environmental change in rural contexts funded by the FWO (Flemish Scientific Research Foundation), and previously as the country representative for the Belgian NGO Broederlijk Delen. During these years I have worked closely with local (civil) organizations, such as the research and development institute Nitlapan-UCA, various farmer movements, and the environmental NGO Fundación del Río, as well as with several governmental organizations (e.g. Nicaraguan Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARENA)), and academic institutions (e.g. Universidad Centroamericana (UCA)).

Currently, I am also Board Member of Oxfam Belgium, and part of the Advisory Commission of the Belgian NGO Broederlijk Delen.

 

Research interests

My research focuses on the politics of knowledge in conservation and development, on critiques of neoliberal natures and ‘green economy’ proposals, on alternative (transformational) paradigms, social movements and processes related to degrowth, as well as on other processes of (re)imagining and (re)enacting alternative social-ecological futures. More specifically, I focus on the social and environmental justice aspects of climate change and ecosystem service policies in ‘development’ contexts, such as carbon and biodiversity markets, payments for ecosystem services (PES), and green microfinance. Most of my research has focused on Central- and South America, using different strategies mostly inspired by processes of participatory action research (see for example a video on our experiences in Nicaragua). My theoretical approach is interdisciplinary and draws largely from the fields of political ecology, ecological economics, and critical geography.

​​Here you can find an overview of the research projects I am currently involved in.

 

Teaching

At the IOB, I am teaching the following courses in the Advanced Master of Development Evaluation and Management and the Advanced Master of Globalization and Development:

I am also the academic coordinator of the yearly Debating Development series organized at our University .

At the Faculty of Biology and in cooperation with the Institute of Environment & Sustainable Development I am teaching a course on Sustainable Development.

I am also involved as a lecturer in some of the teaching programs organized at our partner institutes in Central America.

 

Key publications

I have published several book chapters, opinion pieces, policy briefs, and research articles in a diversity of (academic) outlets (for a full overview see my publication profile on University of Antwerp or GoogleScholar).

  • A copy of my doctoral dissertation on critical institutional approaches to analyze the on-the-ground social and political effects of market-based conservation mechanisms can be downloaded here.


Some contributions to opinion pieces / public debate include:


Some key academic publications include:​​

  • Muradian, R., M. Arsel, L. Pellegrini, F. Adaman, B. Aguilar, B. Agarwal, E. Corbera, D. Ezzine de Blas, J. Farley, G. Froger, E. Garcia-Frapolli, E. Gómez-Baggethun; J. Gowdy, N. Kosoy, J.F. Le Coq, P. Leroy, P. May, P. Méral, P. Mibielli, R. Norgaard, B. Ozkaynak, U. Pascual, W. Pengue, M. Perez, D. Pesche, R. Pirard, J. Ramos-Martin, L. Rival, F. Saenz, G. Van Hecken, A. Vatn, B. Vira and K. Urama (2013) Payments for Ecosystem Services and the fatal attraction of win-win solutions, Conservation Letters 6(4): 274-279.


Supervision of PhD students

I am promotor of several PhD students working on:

  • From geocoded to entangled landscape: Forests, REDD+ environmental rule and everyday practices in DR Congo (by Catherine Windey)
  • A comparative analysis of Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) in Nicaragua and Guatemala (by René Rodriguez Fabilena)
  • Heterogeneities of farmer rationalities and territorial development pathways: Perspectives for 'microfinance plus' models in Nicaragua (by Milagros Romero)
  • Neoliberal conservation and hybrid resistances in Colombia: A scalar political ecology of environmental governance and social-ecological change in the Andean-Amazonian conservation corridor (by Juan Sebastian Velez Triana)
  • Political Ecologies of Payments for Ecosystem Services and Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Nicaragua and Guatemala (by Danya Nadar)​​