Kewan joined the CSI as a postdoctoral researcher and Marie Curie Research Fellow (MSCA-IF) in December 2021. His interdisciplinary background provides him with an in-depth knowledge of environmental economics as well as geography and environmental sciences. He will be working on a research project entitled “NatUVal – Opening the black box of nature valuation. The case of UNESCO parks in Europe“.
Environmental valuation, which is at the heart of environmental management, shapes the roles of and relations between actors associated with nature parks. Currently, international environmental conservation institutes make use of different valuation tools and practices for the management of their parks.
The NatUval project will compare different valuation methods at Unesco and the IUCN. The aim is to (1) conceptualise how values are attached to ecosystems and landscapes in these institutes and (2) develop a first typology of environmental valuation practices in order to (3) outline a systematic, long-term empirical research on the performativity of those valuation practices and the consequences for environmental management.
The results will help to understand the impact of different forms of environmental valuation. The lessons learned from these case studies will be used to develop a typology of valuation tools to assist practitioners in their environmental management work. Kewan will collaborate with Prof. Liliana Doganova on this project.
Before joining the CSI Kewan finalized a PhD on the impact of landslides and disaster risk reduction strategies in Uganda. He has subsequently adopted an outlook from Science and Technology Studies (STS) to critically assess the way disasters are generally understood. His latest article questions some of his own work, and subsequently proposes an alternative way of doing research in geography: “Reassembling disaster risk: towards a more self-reflexive and enabling geography”. Belgeo [Online], 4 | 2021.
He also conducted a laboratory study with researchers in environmental economics on the use of the concept of ecosystem services within a European H2020 project, which is now published in i3 Working Papers Series: Kewan Mertens, Kato Van Ruymbeke and Liesbet Vranken, “What are ecosystem services? On transformative tables and the search for supply and demand.” i3 Working Papers Series, 23-CSI-01, 2023.