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Well-being, Ecology, Gender, and cOmmunity

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - WEGO (Well-being, Ecology, Gender, and cOmmunity)

Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2022-06-30

WEGO-ITN as the first Feminist Political Ecology (FPE) network has set out to look at everyday experiences of environmental practices with a politically aware approach to social and environmental research. WEGO-ITN has tackled socio-ecological challenges to build resilient, equitable and sustainable futures working with communities in Europe – Spain, Italy, UK, The Netherlands and Germany and in countries beyond Europe – Kenya, Japan, Uruguay, India, Nepal and Indonesia. The studies have looked at the impacts of climate change, changes in food patterns, water scarcity, health, ageing and population as well as resistance to mining and fracking and experiments of communities involved in commoning and community economies. WEGO-ITN has shown how local communities are negotiating life and livelihoods in human damaged environments paying attention to emotions, feelings, the spiritual, and knowledge of the natural world and in the process has developed innovative new methodologies that will guide future work of the network members.
WEGO-ITN reached its three main goals:
1. To build a strong core network of FPE scholars with several collaborative publications with more forthcoming in the 2022 and 2023. WEGO-ITN has contributed to political ecology, international relations, gender and development conferences including the degrowth network, the community economies research network, Pollen and EADI. It has contributed to two other ITNs – Entitled and its Undisciplined Environment’s blog and the NewWeave ITN. The WEGO-ITN book, ‘Feminist Methodologies. Experiments, Collaborations and Reflections’ co-edited by WEGO ESRs and mentors launched in April 2022 has been downloaded 58,000 times in three months.
2. To train 15 ESRs to use FPE in their methodology, research and ethical practice. Innovations include the use of political art, running community workshops and second and tertiary level teaching as well as writing timely blogs. WEGO-ITN ESRs have been careful to undertake ethical research working with (not on) local communities and the network has aimed to do horizontal rather than vertical learning. In this way the network has both learnt from supported community strategies for greater resilience and sustainability and providing innovative methodologies such as on-line exhibitions.
3. To consolidate FPE as a key conceptual approach to resilience and sustainability by bringing fresh perspectives on gender to the policy space on environment and development engaging policy makers working on the green economy and sustainability. The Feminist Political Ecology dialogues in – UK, Italy, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands held in a hybrid format from July 2021 until May 2022 linked policymakers, civil society groups, activists and the scientific community in a series of discussion on, food sovereignty, generation and population, resistance to mining and extractivism, rural farming response to climate change and environmental damage, water and liveable cities. WEGO also contributed to the 8th international conference on degrowth. Through these dialogues WEGO-ITN has aimed to engage with the civil society, as well as government and European policy makers on multi-faceted gender perspective to sustainable development.

These goals were reached through the following unique WEGO-ITN activities:
WEGO-ITN Training labs
The network training labs were the main source of collective learning. The ESRs began their PhDs in September in 2018 with an introductory orientation and training lab on academic writing at ISS. In the 4.5 years of the project, the ESRs have worked with their supervisors and mentors at partner institutions planning and implementing their research and training activities.

Secondments were designed as a unique way to build the network learning across the different network nodes. Secondments enables ESRs to learn from partner and other mentor institutions.

Building a strong approach to the ethical research
WEGO-ITN put ethics at the centre of its work, with several trainings that focused on ethics working building the networks approach to an ethics of care with communities and in compliance with their institutions’ ethics boards. An Ombudsperson was appointed for the network.

Outreach and societal relevance
Given the network’s strong commitment to supporting the communities with whom the ESRs were working several public events were held on and in person, for example: a public exhibition ‘Extracting Us’ in Brighton; a panel on ‘Analyzing the politics of the everyday; a feminist political ecology perspective’ at the European Conference of Politics and Gender in Amsterdam, a 5-day PhD Summer School ‘Feminist Political Ecology: new spaces of engagement for environmental futures’ at the University of Oslo; a feminist methodology workshop at Punti Di Vista in Bolsena Italy; and established the local organising committee of the 8th International Degrowth Conference, held in The Hague, August 2021.

Working On-line
Due to COVID-19, the network received a 6-month budget-neutral extension from the EC. From March 2020 until April 2022, all research and training activities had to move online. WEGO-ITN participated and presented in a training programmes that were hosted online producing E-courses and webinars and on-line summer schools. The network has produced several on-line resources: videos of the training lab sessions, FPE dialogues on You Tube, WEGO-ITN and Undisciplined Environment blogs, podcasts on advocacy, research projects, media discourses, sessions from summer schools. See WEGO-ITN publications in bulletins, blogs, YouTube/Vimeo, opinion pieces and webinars on the website.

WEGO-ITN has signed a contract for another innovative co-authored book on the Contours of FPE to be published by Palgrave in early 2023. WEGO-ITN will also contribute to the Journal of Peasant Studies with 10 articles for three special issues on FPE as well as a further edited book by Routledge.
Feminist Political Ecology (FPE) Dialogues in The Netherlands, Italy, Spain-Uruguay, UK and Germany from July 2021 to May 2022 showcased the findings of the WEGO-ITN research to date and brought together research and policy makers together with activist communities engaged in intersectional intergenerational environment justice.
WEGO-ITN pushing disciplinary boundaries, and reaching new publics

At the final WEGO-ITN meeting held in June 2022 it was agreed the network would continue for the next two years, reaching out to different constituencies to build feminist ecological solidarities for transformation. A proposal is now being drawn up for a Conference in Bellagio in 2024 which will be entitled an ‘FPE dialogue on the Politics of Sufficiency/Enough for Building Thriving Communities’.
In conclusion, WEGO-ITN has not only achieved its goals, but also with its on-line expansion and outreach has exceeded expectations. WEGO-ITN has created a research activist network that will continue to build on feminist political ecology insights gleaned from four years of careful and ethical engagement with communities on the frontlines of climate crises.