In 2020 WEGO-ITN moved mostly online because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the ESRs have had to deal with major interruptions to their research leading to a request for a 6-month extension, as a project, WEGO-ITN has continued to build a vibrant European-based network of feminist political ecologists that brings together the ESRs, beneficiaries, and partners to discuss and debate multiple aspects of environment and development policy from a gender perspective. All ESRs are working closely (on and offline) with their selected communities in India, Indonesia, Kenya, Italy, Japan, Nepal, Spain, UK, and Uruguay. During COVID-19 times, they have managed to continued connection with the communities, offering support and solidarity, listening, and learning from the communities, and ensuring that their research promotes positive change for the communities involved.
Even during COVID-19 and the inevitable setbacks to research plans, in 2020 WEGO-ITN is continuing to address the three aims as set out in the DoA:
- The WEGO-ITN contributed to academic and policy discussion on the feminist political ecology (FPE) framework forging new collaborations that looked at climate, environment, food sovereignty, extractivism, commoning, age, caring communities, and population through contributions to local, national, and international events, both activist and academic. The regular discussions on Zoom, the online training lab, and preparations for collaborations allowed the WEGO-ITN to foster processes of mutual learning among researchers and communities which helped to document how gendered power relations shape resource access and control in specific contexts.
- The ESRs, partly because of the COVID-19 situation formed a close and connected group that contributed collaboratively to each other’s work with regular seminars, blogging on the WEGO-ITN website, and a series of training that enabled them to reflect on their research, its impact on communities and the importance of co-production following principles of care. The social media training lab began the process of enabling ESRs to convert the acquired knowledge into public education material that considers the knowledge and experience of communities that are accessible through social media.
- The in-depth discussions within the WEGO-ITN network among partners and beneficiaries as well as at (mostly online) university seminars and conference sessions such as POLLEN held in September, enabled WEGO-ITN to further consolidate FPE as a key conceptual approach to political ecology and meanings of resilience and sustainability. WEGO-ITN brought its critical gender approach to events around extractivism and degrowth through online dialogue as well as an innovative online art exhibition. Planning is now underway for further dissemination through a collaborative book, a journal issue, 5 national FPE dialogues and an academic and activist conference to be held in 2021 (hopefully face to face, COVID-19 permitting). In this way, the results of WEGO-ITN’s research and community engagement will be brought to policy and social movement events on the SDGs, on climate change resilience, community economies, and population and development.