Amazonian societies are increasing exposed to severe floods and droughts yet examination of related health and social impacts is lacking. This contrasts sharply with intensive biophysical research into how extreme events in this region influence, and respond to, forest degradation and planetary change. I will argue that knowledge gaps around the health-risks of extreme events for Amazonians arise from intersecting forms of marginalization under which scientists and policymakers fail to 'see' certain kinds of places, people and diseases. My talk will then elaborate on my recent research examining vulnerability in Amazonia from different disciplinary perspectives. This includes scrutinizing the spatial basis of urban vulnerability; searching for 'food deserts' in rainforest cities; assessing the impacts of extreme events and social inequities on birth-weight; and exploring the role of access in shaping food and nutrition security. The discussion ends by considering how to develop a health justice agenda for Amazonia, focusing on the role of supporting citizens to reach for greater power.
Luke Parry—senior lecturer at Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, UK—is a social environmental scientist and is interested in identifying pathways towards socially-just and sustainable futures for tropical forest regions, particularly the Amazon. His research program makes links between political ecology (particularly of health), food systems, urbanization and climatic change. He uses mainly quantitative approaches and seeks to ask and answer policy-relevant questions. Luke has been working in, and learning about, the ecological, social, health and political dimensions of tropical forests since 2002.