Global South

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The majority of people on our planet live in the Global South, where most of the world’s natural resources are located but where challenges related to poverty, social marginality, and fragile environments are daunting. Global sustainability challenges cannot be solved without enhancing the transformation pathways in the Global South that are intricately linked to the development trajectories in the rest of the world. Therefore, novel pathways need to be co-designed through innovative interactions and ways of co-learning between the Global South and North.

The Global South thematic under HELSUS provides a unique platform exploring the conditions, limits and pathways for sustainability in different post-colonial contexts. In addition to bringing Global South researches together in Helsinki, one important goal of HELSUS is to facilitate student and staff mobility between the University of Helsinki and the universities in the Global South. HELSUS will also enable knowledge exchange between its own overarching research themes (Arctic, Global South, Urban, Consumption and Production, Theory and Methodology).

There is a wide disciplinary expertise and ongoing research on this thematic in the University of Helsinki. The current aim of the HELSUS Global South theme is to further mobilize this through interdisciplinary projects that will be identified through a participatory process in the beginning of 2018.

The Global South theme under HELSUS consists of diverse research topics from various disciplines within the University of Helsinki. Here is a list of ongoing research.

Indigenous Studies programme at the University of Helsinki fosters sustainable and ethical research with Indigenous peoples. Our research investigates and takes into account Indigenous epistemologies, ontologies, and values, providing new perspectives on human-environment interactions, Indigenous education, wellbeing, temporalities, Indigenous rights, as well as methodological issues.

As part of the Department of Forest Sciences, the Viikki Tropical Resources Institute (VITRI) provides academic training and implements research on forests and related natural resources in tropical countries in the Global South.

International Forest Policy research group analyses opportunities and obstacles for processes of transformational change as well as the discourses and power relations within the wider institutional environment with implications to the forestry sector. The research also examines forest governance and evaluates the effectiveness, efficiency and equity outcomes of international forest policy instruments.

Earth Change Observation Laboratory applies remote sensing sensors and geospatial data for studying Earth’s physical, biological and societal systems and how they change our environment and livelihoods especially in the Global South.

Development studies critically examines development, poverty, inequality as well as social, political, environmental and cultural changes and continuities within our world from a multidisciplinary perspective. At the University of Helsinki, development studies focuses on topics such as the theory and history of development and developmentalism, global justice, and the relationship between so-called development and culture, gender, space and the environment as well as the global political economy.

Soilman Project focuses on mapping, management and resilience of ecosystem services for food security and response to climate change in Ethiopia.

University of Helsinki has contributed to research and setting up facilities in several research stations in Africa. Please read more on research stations and the work that has been conducted below.

Centre ValBio Research Station, Madagascar

Several researchers of the University of Helsinki have conducted research in this research station, located in the National Park of Ranomafana in Madagascar. Centre ValBio works to protect Madagascar’s unique and biologically diverse ecosystems through conservation science and projects that directly benefit the local people. The University of Helsinki has also been funding Centre ValBio.

Taita Research Station, Kenya

The University of Helsinki established Taita Research Station in the Taita Hills in 2011. Taita Hills is of primary interest among geographers, ecologists, foresters, agronomists and social scientists studying the land use and land cover changes, biodiversity, water resources, climate – land cover feedback mechanisms, rural development and environmental conservation.

Turkana Basin Research Institute, Kenya

Founded by Richard Leakey and Stony Brook University in 2005, The Turkana Basin Institute is an international, multi-disciplinary organization supporting scientific research in the Turkana Basin region of northern Kenya. Professor Mikael Fortelius from the University of Helsinki has been collaborating with the TBI for instance by organizing a Palaeontology Field School recently.

Welgegund measurement station, South Africa

The Welgegund atmospheric measurement station is located approximately 100 km west of Johannesburg (Gauteng) metropolitan area in South Africa. The site is operated jointly by the North-West University (NWU), the University of Helsinki (UH) and the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI).

Under the Global South theme, HELSUS cooperates with several academic, public and private sector actors. Possibilities for funding and networking will be stated here later year 2018.