Reporting of my participation at the XXII International Conference of the Society for Human Ecology (Ayako Kawai, The Australian National University)

FEAST HQ Report, WG1

I joined the XXII International Conference of the Society for Human Ecology held from 28 Nov 2017 to 1 Dec at the University in the Philippines, Baños. I am currently a PhD student at the Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University, focusing on seed saving practices in Japan. I am also a project member of FEAST.

This conference has been held since 1985, and promotes ecological perspectives for research, education and practices. The conference title this year was ‘Envisioning Pathways to Just and Sustainable Futures: Celebrating diversity, pursuing integration, and developing livable communities’. Presentation and paper sessions were organized based on the following four themes. (1) Health, Aging, and Demographic Change, (2) Sustainable Cities and Landscapes, (3) Food and Water Systems, and (4) Communities in Transition: Implications for rural resilience, biodiversity, and tourism.

I presented at the session ‘Food Systems and Water management for Rural Development’ (under the theme of ‘Food and Water Systems’). This session particularly looked at cases from East Asia and South East Asia, focusing on: what forms of governance could promote sustainability?; how are different sectors affected by changes in forms of governance?; what could be learned from regional examples of local governance initiatives that could inform policy makers and managers for sustainable food and water systems management?

I presented my research on ‘Informal Governance of Agricultural Diversity at the Local Level: A Case Study of Seed Saving in Japan’. Here, I introduced how formal and informal mechanisms support seed saving of local variety vegetables in two villages. Also, I gave my analysis on how goals set by different actors affect farmers’ seed saving practices.

The conference covered a wide range of topics and themes. The presentations that were particularly striking to me were; a presentation that questioned whether Human Ecology is a discipline or a paradigm given by Luciano Sergio Ventin Bomfim from Brazil, a presentation that argued the importance of distinguishing three different levels of concepts – mechanism, system and evolutionary dynamics – given by John Schooneveldt from Australia, and a presentation about the typology of Boundary Spanners and the dark side of the spanners given by Eleanor Malbon from Australia.

These presentations gave me good inspirations for further thinking in my research.

My presentation (Photo:Christian De Castro)

Opening Ceremony (Photo:Ayako Kawai)

University in the Philippines, Los Baños(Photo:Ayako Kawai)