Scottish research award to fms PhD student Lina Isacs
In time for her upcoming half-time seminar on November 18, fms PhD student Lina Isacs has received the Postdoctoral and Early Career Researcher Exchanges (PECRE) award from Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS) to fund a five week visit to The Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) in Oban, Scotland. Lina’s PhD project is funded by Formas and treats valuation of ecosystem services, a topic now being at the top of the agenda within environmental policy in both Sweden and the UK. Sweden is committed to make the value of ecosystem services “generally known and integrated into economic decisions” by 2018, according to one of the national environmental objectives.
- My thesis relates to how this can be done in practice. I’m most curious about how the more intangible values of nature can be taken into account, those that are vital for human wellbeing but hard to quantify. If the aim is to achieve a sustainable instead of destructive economic development, it might be that the most important values to account for are those that depend on people’s ethical notions around nature. How can such values be described in decision-making material?
Lina is in the middle of her empirical studies. Together with her supervisor, associate professor Cecilia Håkansson at fms, and the two other members of the project professor Susanne Baden, marine biologist at Gothenburg University, and Hanna Wetterstrand, agronomist at Stockholm Resilience Centre, Lina recently organised four research workshops around valuation of marine ecosystem services at the Swedish west coast. During one week, participants from five municipalities participated in one-day workshops where different tools were explored for assessing people’s perception of values around their local environment.
- The most interesting part was a deliberative exercise where the participants had quite a long time to discuss their local environment from different ethical perspectives and take stand with the help of “statement cards” on the wall. It was striking how all groups seemed to agree that they have a moral responsibility to take care of the environment out of purely altruistic convictions, “we want to spare the marine ecosystems for future generations” and so on, but when it came to “closer-to-one-self-issues”, like whether it should be allowed or not to do what you want on your own land at the shoreline, there was disagreement. People even claimed that these issues were too dissimilar.
A few days after her half-time seminar Lina heads off to Oban. During her visit she will dig into the data and finalise the first paper related to this project. She hopes to get valuable input from her co-supervisor Dr Jasper Kenter, who is based at SAMS and works with similar research.
- The Scottish west-coast November weather will be perfect for this, I suppose, says Lina.