PhD bio-science engineer on the potential of alternative biofuel systems
"Although the North-South divide is such a complex puzzle, I have always been dedicated to aid in putting the pieces right."
Who are you?
I have long been intrigued by the North-South divide. Although it is such a complex puzzle, I have always been dedicated to aid in putting the pieces right. This fundamental injustice was the major motivation for choosing my training as a bioscience engineer and research I did in Tanzania & Kenya. My two major interest: Development in the South, and Green Development. My PhD studies revolve around the potential of alternative biofuel systems: planting of oilseed-bearing trees on smallholder farms to achieve energy security and livelihood improvement throughout the South, as well as to contribute to climate change mitigation and societal transition. I have also worked on software that simulates future forest development in Belgium and developed sustainability scans for Belgian farms.
Why are you part of Generation T?
I consider my PhD as a challenge and opportunity to develop skills and knowledge, as well as an once-in-a-lifetime experience. I am also interested in how to make "developed" countries such as Belgium greener, and on how innovative ideas can contribute to this. In addition, I am still looking the pathway of contributing to change that suits me the best (researcher? policymaker? entrepreneur?). I am keen to meet people with the same drive but working from different angles. I can bring the Generation T community closer the innovative ideas existing within my scientific domain, contribute with my experiences with transition outside Belgium, put things into perspective, and enrich them with a particular vision on tomorrow’s world that has crystallized from these experiences.
A specific example on how your project or activities make a difference and initiate change:
My PhD project is framed within the global initiative for change of the fossil-fuel based energy system, towards a renewable, affordable and inclusive alternative. The use of oilseed trees is climate change mitigation strategy, but also a means for afforestation, biodiversity and ecosystem rehabilitation, agro-ecological production... Economically, it provides remote communities with locally produced energy, creates independence from the current energy system, improves livelihoods and eradicates poverty. Socially, the project focuses on an energy generating system that is available to anyone, has opportunities for female empowerment and entails health improvements. I will translate the scientific findings of my PhD into management and policy implications, and will spread these on local, national and international levels.