Online seminar - Let's talk about people, power, and urban nature: Who is to decide what pieces of nature should be kept in cities?

This talk from Maria Mejia is inspired by the increasing evidence on civil efforts to protect nature in cities—different from top-down and elite-oriented conventional conservation measures. However, this is only half of the story.

We will devote special attention to power relations as they lie at the heart of such "protective narratives", implying that certain voices—or values—will prevail upon others. Who is to decide what and how in cities? Whose voices are listened when it comes to protecting urban natures? Whether an urban wetland should be kept as an ecological and social node or transformed to give way to transport infrastructure expansion? Who is waving each of these narratives? Which groups are enjoying the right to the city? How do race, class, and gender play a role in this political participation? This talk then aims at bringing humans to the core of biodiversity conservation in cities.

As Maria is joining us virtually from Colombia, this will be an online only seminar.

About the speaker

Maria Mejia is a social ecologist from Colombia specialising in the impact people have in urban and natural environments. Beyond Colombia, Maria has spent time in Germany, the United States. and the Philippines. She holds a double major in Economics and Political Science (Colombia), which she followed up with personal passions, including studying a Minor in Architecture and City, hosting a radio show, and working in Yosemite National Park. She was a conspirator of Urban Nature: Platform of Experiences (2016), a volunteer at Fundacion Cerros de Bogota, and Regional Curator at The Nature Of Cities.

Maria's Masters' thesis (MSc. Global Environmental Change, Germany, 2019) addressed the role people play in the production of urban natures, environmental justice, and landscape ecology. She has worked with incredible teams including the Asian Development Bank, German Cooperation Agency, and the PIK Institute. Now back home, Maria is currently leading the BiodiverCities by 2030 Initiative at the Humboldt Institute of Colombia.