Where in the World: Jessica Brugmans, Class of 2013

Namaste!

At the moment I am living in Pokhara, the second largest city of Nepal, snuggly nestled between beautiful Lake Fewa and the Himalaya. When I’m not completely distracted by the awesome views inviting exploratory hikes all around, I am working at my internship at Bioversity International. Pokhara and Bioversity are not just my place of work, but also the base-camp for fieldwork throughout Nepal that I’m doing for my Master’s thesis.

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After LUC I stayed in The Hague for another amazing year, in which I got my LL.M. in Public International Law in Leiden. Even though the highlight of the program was learning to be a lawyer in the Telders International Law Moot Court Competition, I decided that court-life isn’t for me, or at least not yet. Therefore, I decided to head to Aarhus, Denmark for a MSc in Human Security. It is there that I rekindled a passion for climate change, food security and agriculture that the fast and dangerous world of international law had pushed to the back burner. Studying in Denmark is fantastic, there is preference for the small-scale student focused education that LUC has spoiled us all with, the local vikings are a good crowd and the hills can be scaled on a citybike. Still, after all these years of grassy fields and coasts I decided it was time for a change of scenery, which is how I ended up in Nepal.

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The organization I am working with is, together with a wide array of other stakeholders, implementing a long-term UNEP project on the integration of traditional crop genetic diversity, in order to create a buffer against environmental change. This means that on several places in mountainous Nepal they are implementing measures to enhance biodiversity in agriculture. Such measures include among others community seed banks, participatory plant breeding and diversity fairs where farmers show off the plethora of varieties they grow. I am contributing to a framework that will ensure availability, access and benefit-sharing of the genetic resources farmers possess, and the traditional knowledge associated with it. Staying true to my interdisciplinary roots, this means combining the international treaties, domestic laws and policies, as well as customary practices and agricultural choices. With my internship I get access to not only farmer communities but also government officials, NGO staff and others to gather my own data on benefit-sharing that I will use for my thesis back in Denmark. I am for example currently participating in a workshop on seed systems that includes practitioners and experts from all over the world

12064147_10204908867867834_2013123372_nThere is a lot going on in Nepal at the moment, and its people and agriculture are infinitely diverse, which makes the work extra interesting and definitely keeps me busy for now. After this I get to return to Denmark for one last stretch of student life. What comes after that is still a little unsure, but so far it’s always worked out, and I’m positive that won’t change.

 

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