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(Re)connect the nexus: young Brazilian experiences of and learning about food-water-energy

Grant number: 17/01692-4
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): May 01, 2017
Effective date (End): April 30, 2018
Field of knowledge:Interdisciplinary Subjects
Principal Investigator:Mauricio Cesar Delamaro
Grantee:Amanda Figueiredo Martins
Home Institution: Faculdade de Engenharia (FEG). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus de Guaratinguetá. Guaratinguetá , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:15/50226-0 - (Re)connect the nexus: young Brazilians' experiences of and learning about food-water-energy, AP.TEM

Abstract

Recent research about the food-water-energy nexus has tended to focus on flows (e.g. of food between producers and consumers) and ways of governing the nexus. However, there is a real need to understand how people understand, experience, learn about and participate in the food-water-nexus in their everyday lives. It is only by doing so that we can address crucial questions - in terms of equality of access to nexus resources, resilience to nexus threats, and the role of education in addressing the needs and aspirations of diverse communities. In Brazil, as in other similar countries, young people are a hugely important group, both demographically and socially. In Brazil, young people (aged 0-24) make up 42% of the population. Moreover, we already know that in diverse global contexts, young people are instrumental in terms of securing access to resources (including nexus resources), economic productivity, social cohesion, societal resilience, and community life. In addition, young people are often the main recipients of education programmes - especially Education for Sustainability (EfS) - through which both threats to the nexus and broader sustainable development goals are frequently addressed. However, there is scant research - either in Brazil or globally - that focuses on young people and their interactions with the food-water-energy nexus.This project's main aim is to examine young people's (aged 10-24) understandings, experiences and participation in the 'food-water-energy' nexus in Brazil. It focuses on this age group as older children and young adults are generally the main targets for EfS, and as they are likely to have greater capacities for engagement with and reflection on the nexus than younger children. In achieving this aim, the project will address three sets of research questions with huge potential for both academic and societal impacts. 1: What are young people's (aged 10-24) understandings, experiences and participation in the food-water-energy nexus in Brazil? Focussing on Sao Paulo State as a case study, how do these vary in terms of their diverse geographical (urban, suburban, rural) and socio-economic positioning (focussing on age, gender, class and ethnicity)? Amidst the complexities of the food-water-energy nexus, what are the key priorities for young people, their families and communities? How are young people included or (not) in accessing parts of the nexus? 2: What is the role of embodiment and reconnection in young people's engagements with the food-water-energy nexus? In other words, what are the everyday choices that young people - with adult others - must make in, for instance, choosing between the food, water or energy that fuel their bodies, homes and public services? What does it mean for young people to have 'closer' or 'more' distant connections with food in a Brazilian context - and does the principle of 'reconnection', so important to EfS and other programmes for sustainable development have salience there? To what extent do young people's experiences challenge (perhaps Minority World) assumptions about the status of components of the nexus; i.e. what are food, water and energy, in those contexts? 3: How does Education for Sustainability in Brazil specifically address the food-water-energy nexus? To what extent can learning about the nexus support young people's own understandings, experiences and participation of food-water-energy? The research questions will be addressed by producing both a baseline survey of a plenty of young people and detailed, multimethod, qualitative research with 100 young people. The project will be undertaken by an established, inter-disciplinary team of UK and Brazilian social scientists and engineers, building on the work of a Newton Research Partnerships Grant. In order to achieve the step-change in scholarship on young people and the nexus indicated above, and in order to maximise the project's impacts, such collaboration is vital.