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21-23 MARCH 2017

Final OpenNESS Annual Meeting in Smolenice, Slovakia

Meet our new OpenNESS research fellow

From this February onwards, the Belgian scientist Sander Jacobs enforces the OpenNESS community at INBO in Brussels. He will mainly be involved in ecosystem services demand analysis, looking at spatial and institutional scales, the challenge to quantify and spatially visualize and compare them, and the (decision-making) consequences of mismatches between supply and demand. Sander very kindly answered a couple of questions about himself.

  1. Can you briefly introduce yourself?
    I’m 33 years old, born and raised on the Flanders countryside in Belgium. I’m now living in the beautiful city of Ghent, and working in Brussels. Ask me anything about Belgian beers, civil disobedience, and Dudeism. Don’t ask me about football, ayahuasca or the lesser spotted eagle owl.
  2. What is your professional background?
    I am an ecologist by training, and during the last 10 years gradually moved from pure biogeochemistry, over more applied ecology and ecosystem functioning as a PhD-student, towards interdisciplinary work as a post-doc. During last years, I have happily left the comfort zone to engage in transdisciplinary work, economy, stakeholder involvement, governance, and all the existential doubts this invokes for a natural scientist. However, I (for now) manage to keep an analytic-quantitative perspective on data and knowledge. On ecosystem services, I have published some papers and edited a book, and I’m co-chairing the Ecosystem Service Partnership (www.ES-partnership.org) steering committee. Locally, I am strongly engaged in the Belgium Ecosystem Services Community of Practice (www.BEEScommunity.be). During the last two years, I worked for the Flanders ecosystem assessment (stage 1, www.NARA.be) and since February, I made the shift to the research group Nature & Society at the Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO), to work for Openness and several local research and participation projects on nature-society interactions.
  3. What will you be doing for OpenNESS?
    I will mainly be involved in ecosystem services demand analysis, looking at spatial and institutional scales, the challenge to quantify and spatially visualize and compare them, and look into the (decision-making) consequences of mismatches between supply and demand. Also, work on integrated valuation - closely linked to overcoming these problems - will be among my contributions.
  4. Why would you like to work specifically for OpenNESS? What is your ‘thing’ with nature; with ecosystem services and natural capital?
    Scientists from all disciplines agree: strong sustainability should be realized, and soon rather than late. Ecosystem services and natural capital, could serve as a means to demonstrate the urgency of making such an economic and governance shift, and contribute to the growing critical mass advocating for it. Being aware of the risks of leaving the current moralistic discourse for nature protection and entering the realm of ‘rational’ socio-economic decision making, I still think it’s worth to give it a shot. OpenNESS is exactly the right project to critically apply these concepts and learn along the way.

Photo: Sander Jacobs