Elinor Ostrom pictured with the other lead PIs of SANREM CRSP Phase III projects: Alex Travis, Corinne Valdivia, Jeff Alwang, and Manuel Reyes
Elinor Ostrom, lead principal investigator for SANREM’s Phase III Long-term Research Award 1, has won the 2009 Nobel Prize in economics for her work on how community institutions can prevent conflict. In announcing the award October 12, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences cited Ostrom “for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons.”
Ostrom, pictured at right with lead PIs Alex Travis, Corinne Valdivia, Jeff Alwang, and Manuel Reyes, is the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for economics in its 40-year history. Her SANREM CRSP research is related; she is examining how alternative forest management policies and governance regulations in developing countries affect the livelihoods of local forest users and protect the forests. SANREM research shows that government policy reforms such as decentralization do not automatically translate into new property rights for forest users or show clear benefits to the environment.
Students on-site in the Altiplano (Andean highlands)
Ecuador is a country of contrasts: tropical Pacific beaches and Amazon rain forests separated by the majestic Andes mountain range. About the size of Colorado, Ecuador also includes the Galápagos Islands, whose astonishing range of animal and plant species influenced Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
Despite rich resources such as oil, a major export, Ecuador has a sizable population living below the poverty line – about 38%, according to the CIA World Factbook. To help those people, many of them subsistence farmers in remote mountain areas, a team of Virginia Tech professors and undergraduate students traveled to Ecuador this year to research how improved agricultural practices can win wider acceptance.
Researcher Delia Catacutan speaking at the seminar “Linking Knowledge with Action: Meeting NRM Challenges through SANREM.”
Linking research findings to practices that help communities and the environment is a perennial challenge. Scholars may be viewed skeptically by policymakers and vice versa, says Researcher Delia Catacutan, a social scientist at the World Agroforestry Centre in the Philippines and Giorgio Ruffolo Fellow in Sustainability Science at Harvard University. Catacutan, also an adjunct associate professor at University of the Philippines-Los Baños, has been exploring effective ways of linking knowledge with action. She gave an overview of her findings Feb. 3 in a seminar, “Linking Knowledge with Action: Meeting NRM Challenges through SANREM.”