Aili Pyhälä

Saturday October 03, 2015

Three-day canoe trip with the Matis community to reach their village in Amazonas, Brazil.

 

Aili Pyhälä 

GESA 2015  |  Finland  |  Socio-environmental Scientist

 

To serve my purpose the best I can in exchanging knowledge and ideas, establishing connections, mediating between cultures and levels, and inspiring change for a healthier and more equitable planet.

I am a socio-environmental scientist, holding a BSc in Environmental Sciences, and PhD in Development Studies, with over 15 years experience working internationally on issues related to sustainability and rights. I hold extensive grassroots-level fieldwork experience (mostly in South America, Africa and Asia) researching and working with local and indigenous communities. I have also worked with various government institutions and inter-ministerial working groups in Finland, Australia and the Andean Community. In 2005-6, I helped develop Finland’s National Sustainable Development Strategy, responsible for developing the country’s Sustainable Development Indicators. In 2008, I led a project for the United Nations Environmental Programme which involved assessing the extent to which national sustainable development strategies of developed nations have addressed the issue of global responsibility. I have been a consultant on several short-term missions, bridging my scientific work with policy and development, and am also a trained permaculture and eco-village designer and teacher.

My research has focused largely on biodiversity conservation, protected areas, local environmental knowledge, cross-cultural perceptions of wellbeing, indigenous peoples’ rights, and ecological footprinting. I have long been researching the challenges and potentials of community-based conservation, looking at trade-offs between livelihoods and strict protection, local community perceptions, and inter-stakeholder power dynamics. I am currently working on this question with partners in Madagascar as well as the Congo Basin. In the latter, I am finalizing a study (for Rainforest Foundation UK) on the impacts of protected areas on local and indigenous communities in five Central African nations.

I am also working on a cross-cultural empirical study on cross-cultural perceptions of health, wellbeing, and happiness in three indigenous hunter-gatherer societies in Amazonia, Borneo and the Congo Basin, as well as on an extensive global literature review and meta-analysis of local communities’ perceptions of global environmental change, capturing also adaptive strategies to coping with change.

I am very interested in promoting stronger ethics and bottom-up approaches to research, especially in cross-cultural contexts involving different knowledge systems, values and epistemologies, and bridging the gaps between knowledge and science on the one hand, and policy and action on the other.

With my research team in Madagascar in 2014.

With my research team in Madagascar in 2014.

Being painted by Tsimane' women while carrying out fieldwork in Beni, Bolivian Amazonia.

Being painted by Tsimane’ women while carrying out fieldwork in Beni, Bolivian Amazonia.

 Carrying out community interviews in a Baka village in Cameroon.

Carrying out community interviews in a Baka village in Cameroon.

Interviewing indigenous elders about traditional knowledge transfer in Morogoro, Tanzania.

Interviewing indigenous elders about traditional knowledge transfer in Morogoro, Tanzania.

Post-conference interviews about happiness in Bhutan.

Post-conference interviews about happiness in Bhutan.

Teaching in a Matis school in Vale do Javari, Brazil.

Teaching in a Matis school in Vale do Javari, Brazil.

Skip to toolbar