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Driven by justice

Profile image for Josheena Naggea
(Photo courtesy of Josheena Naggea)

Josheena Naggea

PhD candidate

“As an African national and a woman from Mauritius, ​pushing for greater diversity and environmental justice in the field of natural resource management is something I ​am deeply committed to,” said Josheena Naggea, a PhD candidate in the E-IPER program. “Mauritius has experienced multiple waves of colonization which has shaped environmental governance.”

Through community-based scholarship, Naggea explores the complexities of local environmental stewardship efforts and identity in a post-colonial context. In doing so, she aims to help policymakers create marine conservation solutions that are effective, equitable and adaptable to different contexts.

Naggea’s motivation partly comes from personal experience: In 2020, 1,000 tons of oil spilled near her research sites in Mauritius. “Not only did this oil spill occur near my favorite beach and ecologically-sensitive field sites, it also had a massive impact on the local community,” she said, describing it as “the worst ecological disaster for the country to date.”

That experience inspired her to write about the inequitable impacts of the oil spill on artisanal women fishers, highlighting the disadvantages faced by individuals from vulnerable populations. “Resource management occurs within socio-political and cultural contexts, so it is critical to understand the nuance in how each of our unique identities interact with different environmental governance processes.”

Her work is especially important as we enter the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science, which began in 2021 and will run through 2030. According to its website, the UN Decade of Ocean Science “will provide a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to create a new foundation, across the science-policy interface, to strengthen the management of our oceans and coasts for the benefit of humanity.”

For Naggea, it’s essential that the “Ocean Decade” centers the voices of affected communities.

“There’s no way to have a positive impact in the field of sustainability without decolonizing the research process and curbing ‘parachute science’ – a common issue where researchers from wealthy and privileged countries drop into foreign countries for field work and then leave without acknowledging the work of local scientists and contributors,” she said.

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