Research projects

1. Yasunization of earth: a World Atlas of Unburnable carbon. Cartography and GIS tools to implement inclusive spatial policies at global and local scales for climate and biodiversity protection and human rights enforcement.

  • Climate change represents the greatest challenge for current and future generations as part of the paradigmatic metaphor of sustainability. To avoid exceeding a limit of 2 °C above the average global temperature of pre-industrial times for the period 2011-2050, cumulative carbon dioxide emissions must remain between 870 to 1.240 Gt. We must emphasize, however, that the carbon stored within global reserves of fossil fuels is estimated at 11.000 Gt of carbon dioxide.
    In their article published in Nature in January 2015, McGlade and Ekins argue that implementation of effective climate policies would require that around 80% of coal, 50% of gas and 30% of oil reserves remain untapped.
    Despite climate physical science quantification of unburnable carbon, criteria for choosing specifically which reserves must remain underground have not been addressed in relation to implementation of effective policies for avoiding emissions.
    At the moment, research suggests general targets for regional or national levels without any spatially explicit localization for untapped fossil fuel reserves, or what the criteria would be for selecting the specific deposits, other than extraction costs. Environmental or sustainability criteria do not seem to be considered, apart from the carbon emissions contained in the fuel.
    Regarding the implementation and transferring of policies for leaving fossil fuels underground, so far there exists only one policy experiment, known as the Yasuní-ITT Initiative, implemented in Ecuador in the period 2006-2013, which brought into the equation the environmental and social conservation value of the area lying on top of the deposits.
    This experience led the Ecuadorian research community and civil society to coin the neologism Yasunization meaning a civil society process related to maintaining “oil under the soil” with myriad ultimate objectives: global climate protection, community involvement, climate justice, human rights and biodiversity conservation.
    To respond to these practical aspects, the proposed research will be framed around the key goals: to develop criteria for specifying areas to be left untapped.
    The research, coordinated by the University of Padova will involve a interdisciplinary network of international researchers based in different institutions of different countries putting Padova University at the crossroad of innovative research to support effective policies for climatic change.
    To be effective, the project would be limited to the analysis of world carbon reserves in the form of on-shore oil and gas conventional and unconventional reserves, excluding world coal reserves and world off-shore oil and gas reserves.
    A GIS Multicriteria Analysis will be developed to determine were oil and gas reserves should remain untapped.
    Expected results will be: a) a World Fossil Fuel and Territorial Diversity Open GeoDatabase; b) a World GIS-based Atlas of unburnable carbon related to oil and gas reserves in territories of high biological and cultural diversity; c) a Web GIS of fossil fuel interactions with territorial diversity.

2. Uncontacted peoples and territorial self-determination

  • In 2007 Ecuador, the first country in the world, reserved an area of 7.500 km2 of the Amazon near the border with Peru as Intangible area reserved for the rights to self-determination of uncontacted people Tagaeri Taromenane and perpetually prohibited to any industrial activity. At the same time it was also set up a buffer zone 10 km to ensure a further respect area. However these are nomadic peoples who for centuries have moved on an area of about 20.000 km2 between the rivers Napo and Curaray (north/south) and between the first Andean hills and the confluence of Nashino with Curaray (west(east), so Intangible Zone is not aligned on territoriality of Tagaeri Taromenane.
    The research moves on two fronts on the one hand the issue of political anthropology and self-determination rights of minorities in isolation from including society; on the other side the support to adequate territorial policies and the protection and maintenance of appropriate ecosystem conditions for survival.

3. Yasuni, conflicts cartography and territory

  • The Yasuni National Park in the Ecuadorian Amazon is a paradigmatic case study of the complexities of land management in environments with high biological and cultural diversity. Conflicts are structuring and structured to the simultaneous activation of conflicting territorial policies. Established as a park in 1979, recognized Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1989, it is the region in the world with the highest biological diversity (the number of species of amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals and plants per hectare is incomparable). The park is the life territory of the Tagaeri Taromenane, uncontacted people, the Waorani people (people of recent contact), Kicwa and Shuar people. However, the territory for the conservation of biodiversity and the recognition of human rights is at the same time overlapped by petroleum activities, illegal logging and hunting.
    In 2007, the Presidency of the Republic triggered the Yasuni-ITT initiative with the goal of leaving oil under soil of Ishpingo Tambococha and Tiputini oil fields (located in the western area of the park), in exchange for international monetary compensation based on avoided CO2. On 15 August 2013, the initiative was formally abandoned to start oil exploration of 3 fields. At the same time the southern part of the Park borders was under the new oil bid Ronda Sur East. The research is dealing two issues, firstly building geographical representations that not distorting the territory and allowing the understanding of the system of large projects around the four sides of the park (Via Auca, Napo River, the border with Peru and southern Curaray). On the other side to develop alternative proposals for sustainable territorial development.

4. Territories of Citizens

  • Environmental conflicts are opportunities to explain alternative projects of territorial organization or to deepen the relationship between communities and ecosystems. The research focuses on models of interpretation and practice of environmental conflict management through a comparative look between Europe and Latin America.
    The research focuses on the current issues of the relationship between citizenship and territory, between environmental policies and participatory approaches, between cultural diversity and sense of belonging to places, comparing Europe and Latin America on environmental democracy and sustainable citizenship.
    Key reference is the work done by OLCA (Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales) of Santiago, network of activists and specialists supporting local communities involved in enforcing territorial ownership.

5. Veneto: culture and territory

  • In spring 2012 the book "Veneto and Clouds" was presented. It was an unusual job: for the type of research carried out, for the presentation approach, for the sharing attitude. Research presented the results of a participant observation and shadowing of the band Los Massadores from festivals to rehearsal rooms, trough interviews and meetings with musicians and audience.
    The non-extraction approach was again implemented based on co-leadership between researchers and social actors.
    The goal was not only to achieve the biography of the group, but with them and their audiences, analyze the deep North East: the "Veneto" (the territory) and the "veneto" (the inhabitant).
    The research did not end with the release of the book, but goes through a series of meetings in the region with participatory methods collecting the views of citizens and activating awareness paths on the relationship between people and places.

6. Ecosystem services and spatial assessment

  • The biodiversity of ecological systems, is no longer just a natural heritage of the area to be protected for ecological and ethical reasons, but it constitutes a fundamental contribution to the economies of local, regional and global scale. The markets are increasingly discovering the goods and services provided by ecological systems and the attitude of businesses towards the ecosystem goods and services has become a key element of international competitiveness. Recognition and quantification of services, functions and goods supplied by ecosystems are now hey elements of for a greater awareness on the values of environmental services and to guide economies, territorial planning and local development to a greater degree of sustainability. The research focuses on two case studies Veneto and Peru.

7. UpDrones