Three researchers of the Program on Alternative Development (AltDev) presented papers in “Building Alternative Livelihoods in Times of Ecological and Political Crisis” Conference, the International Online Joint Conference of the International Degrowth Research Networks, the International Society for Ecological Economics (ISEE), and the European Society for Ecological Economics (ESEE), July 5-8, 2021 via Zoom video conferencing.
Honey Tabiola, Junior Research Analyst, discussed the features and impact of Local Energy Planning (LEP) in Vietnam which is a project of AltDev’s partner, Green Innovation and Development Centre (GreenID).
To address the challenges of top-down energy planning in the country, LEP is a bottom-up energy planning where the local community and local state authorities, in consultation with a team of energy experts, work together to craft a common energy plan on the consumption, future demand, and potential renewable energy sources in the locality. Given the positive environmental and economic benefits, Tabiola suggested that the active participation of local communities should be the genesis and destination of energy and environmental policymaking.
Jose Monfred Sy, Project Leader, mapped the development of the mobile Bakwit School in the Philippines. Sy characterized these alternative tribal schools for the Lumad as a response to the shortfall of state services and site of struggle for governance over their yutang kabilin (ancestral domain).
He argued that its “nationalist, pro-people, and scientific pedagogy” exemplifies how indigenous peoples can pave their way to their own definition of development, countering that of the state and of the logic of capital.
Finally, Ananeza Aban, Junior Research Analyst, featured the struggles of peasant communities in Southeast Asia, stressing the role of culture in interpreting their realities and in pursuing agrarian reform and food sovereignty.
For the first case study, Aban discussed the local food movement for the cultivation of sorghum in the province of Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT) in Indonesia. She suggested that the revival of the said staple food crop serves not only to combat food insecurity and malnutrition but also to reclaim their lost cultural identity and agricultural heritage, marginalized during Suharto’s Green Revolution in the late 1960s.
For her second case study, Aban examined tara bandu, a system of customary law of the Uniaun Agrikultores Munisipiu Ermera (UNAER) as a form of collective land ownership and natural resources management. Tara bandu, she concluded, effectively preserved environmental resources, protected sacred places, and strengthened grassroots democracy.
The online conference was hosted by the University of Manchester, UK.
The paper presentations are part of the monograph series published by UP CIDS which is AltDev’s effort to document alternative practices in Southeast Asia that challenge mainstream and dominant narratives of neoliberal development in the region.