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Workshop: "Post-War Land Use Change in Colombia"


LocationJustus-Liebig-Universität Giessen 
Organizers Ivan Lizarazo (UNAL), Matthias Höher (ZEU), Lutz Breuer (ZEU/ILR), Stefan Peters (CAPAZ)
Chair Prof. Dr. Lutz Breuer (ZEU/ILR)


In Colombia, land rights and land governance systems are weak, poorly documented and overlapping. Demand for land has fueled land use competition, land grabbing, instability, conflict, and violence. Expropriation of land and displacement of rural population has been used by armed groups to strengthen territorial control, weaken civilian support to the enemy, seize valuable lands, and promote illegal activities. Social inequalities in terms of access to land and income distribution has also led to exploitation and destruction of the environment. After decades of conflict, the former Colombian government signed a peace agreement with FARC-EP, the largest guerrilla group, in late 2016. The country has entered then into a new post conflict era that hopefully will trigger participatory, representative and inclusive political processes and government institutions that clarify land and resource rights, including: land administration, land information system provision, land dispute resolution, public land management, land use planning, land policy and legislation, and valuation and taxation. It is expected that national, regional and local governments be able to address the sources of instability and violent conflict through promotion of sustainable territorial development based on agrarian reform, social justice, environmental conservation, and economic inclusion.

Building a post-conflict future: sustainable peace

The German-Colombian Peace Institute (CAPAZ), founded in late 2016, aims to accompany the peace process in Colombia from a perspective that combines research, teaching and outreach. The CAPAZ Institute is a cooperation platform for disseminating knowledge about peace studies in order to contribute to the consolidation of a society that transcends the post-conflict stage.

One of the biggest challenges of the peace agreement will be its implementation at a sub-national level and the promotion of a sustainable and peaceful post-conflict society. This especially applies to rural regions characterized by violent struggles over access to land and natural resources as well as by a lack of cultural recognition, social and political participation as well as territorial self-determination of local communities.

The CAPAZ aims at contributing to developing appropriate solutions in three key areas:

  • strengthening local government and participation of social society;
  • land reform (land restitution and land distribution) and
  • promotion of sustainable development.

Workshop objectives

This workshop will bring together academics interested in land use change in the post-war Colombia. By exploring different perspectives, methodological approaches and experiences, this workshop will look at the ways in which joint research between Colombian and German academy may help to identifying key land use and land governance interactions and proposing transnational projects for promoting sustainable territorial development. 

More specifically, the workshop aims are:

  • Identification of relevant research questions related to land use change and land governance for collaborative Master theses
  • Identification and outline of a major draft proposal to be submitted to a transnational call for research projects.
  • Preparation of a draft manuscript contrasting different perspectives on land use trends and drivers in Colombia

The workshop will be organized around three major research topics:

  1. land grabbing, land restitution, land conflicts, and land reform;
  2. land use trends, drivers and impacts in conflict-affected areas; and
  3. the water, energy, land and food nexus


4th September

13:30                        Meeting at the University Main Building

2:00 pm - 5:00 pm   Plenary Session

  • Welcome Address by Prof. Dr. Joybrato Mukherjee, President of Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
  • Keynote talk: Land governance for Sustainable Land Use: International Context by Dr. Irina Solovyeva, Post-Doctoral Researcher at ZEU - Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
  • Keynote talk: The water-energy-land nexus in transdisciplinary research by Prof. Dr. Rainer Waldhardt  
  • Presentation of workshop objectives, structure, rules and outputs by Prof. Dr. Lutz Breuer, Chair of Landscape, Water and Biogeochemical Cycles in Faculty 09- Agricultural Sciences, Nutritional Sciences, and Environmental Management

5th September

8:30 am - 5:00 pm


Plenary Session: 15-min talks & 15-min questions

  • Topic 1. Land grabbing, land restitution, land conflicts, and land reforms

     a) Land tenure status and trends in Colombia (Francisco Gutiérrez Sanín)

     b) Promoting collective land rights for territorial development (Cesar Ortiz Guerrero)

  • Topic 2. Land use trends and drivers

     a) Violence and struggles on mining (Dorothea Hamilton) 

     b) Agroforestry for sustainable agriculture (Philipp Weckenbrock)

  • Topic 3. The water, energy, land and food nexus

     a) Multi-functionality of rural areas is key for territorial development (Fabio Leiva)

     b) Peace-building and rural development in post-conflict Colombia (Maximilian Graser)

Afternoon: Starts at 2:00 pm

  • Preparation of proposals in small groups
  • Brainstorm session for proposing research questions on blank posters
  • Grouping of similar research questions into clusters and assignment of moderators to clusters
  • Small working groups agree on one joint proposal per cluster
  • People move to another cluster and provide feedback to the proposals


6th September

8:30 am- 13:00 pm

Plenary Session: Discussion & agreement on projects

  • Presentation of proposals
  • Working groups refine the proposals and define roles & duties
  • Principal investigators summarize their projects
  • Closing remarks (Prof. Dr. Lutz Breuer)

and write an email to Ivan Lizarazo:


Presentation of results of the pre-workshop survey





Congratulations to Sarah Hüller for successfully defending her PhD thesis


Sarah Hüller successfully defended her dissertation “Linking Agriculture and Tourism - A Qualitative Study on the Status and Perspectives of the Kazbegi Region in the Greater Caucasus” to earn her doctoral degree today.

The study was developed and implemented within the framework of the interdisciplinary research project "Scenario development for sustainable land use in the Greater Caucasus, Georgia (AMIES II)", which was a cooperation of JLU and three Georgian Universities. 

Thanks to the thesis reviewers Prof. I.-U. Leonhäuser (first supervisor, ZEU) and Prof. J. Aurbacher (second supervisor,  Chair for Agricultural Production Economics).

Thanks are also due to the Volkswagen Foundation for generously supporting the project.

Steffen Müller: Successful PhD Defense


Steffen Müller, formerly employed as a project coordinator at ZEU, successfully defended his PhD thesis entitled "Integriertes Wasserressourcenmanagement - Rechtlich-administrativer Rahmen in Deutschland und Europa vor dem Hintergrund internationaler Vorgaben".

He did his research project at the Franz von Liszt-Institute for International and Comparative Law, supervised by Prof. Thilo Marauhn

Saltanat Sabitova: Successfully Defended PhD Thesis at ZEU


Saltanat successfully defended her PhD thesis titled "Implementation of the Kyoto protocol and post-Kyoto commitments in Kazakhstan: legal implications for land use".

The thesis was one of the results of the PhD programme "Land Use, Ecosystem Services and Human Welfare in Central Asia" for Central Asian junior scientist, funded by the VolkswagenStiftung.

The aim of the study was to explore to what extent the land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) activities could be implemented in Kazakhstan within the legal framework of the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement. The research addresses political, legal and institutional problems of Kazakhstan's participation in the global climate change regime.

Dr. Vadim Ni (2nd supervisor), Saltanat Sabitova, Prof. Thilo Marauhn (1st supervisor) (left to right)
Impacts of home gardening on human nutrition in developing countries yet to be clarified:

ZEU members participate in workshop on ‘Home Gardens as a Coping Strategy in Crises and Humanitarian Emergencies’


Date: 27/04/19


The international workshop ‘Home Gardens as a Coping Strategy in Crises and Humanitarian Emergencies’ took place on the 2nd and 3rd April at the Welthungerhilfe headquarter offices in Bonn, Germany. The workshop was organised by the Leibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops (IGZ), led by Tilman Brück, as well as Professor Martin Petrick, member of ZEU and Dr. Heinz Peters from Welthungerhilfe. In total, more than 35 experts, from more than 10 countries from Europe, Asia and Africa, participated. 

The overall objective of the workshop was to advance knowledge of home and school gardens, resilience, food security, and related interventions. To do so, researchers and practitioners, who are working on the topics of home gardens in emergencies gathered at the workshop to deepen the understanding of how informal small-scale home gardening acts as a coping strategy to strengthen food and nutrition security as well as resilience of vulnerable households living under extreme uncertainty. Furthermore, the role of school and home gardens and its possible effects beyond food security, such as women empowerment, were also discussed. According to the workshop results, the evidence is still incomplete whether home gardening initiatives do improve the nutritional status of households in developing countries. However, several high-quality studies are currently underway to shed further light on this question. Prof. Dr. Martin Petrick, Gracia M. Glas and Tina Koch participated as ZEU members in the workshop.

The workshop in Bonn was the second meeting within the Home Gardens for Resilience and Recovery (HG4RR) network, after the Kick-off Workshop was held on the 13th and 14th December 2018 in Kathmandu. HG4RR aims to establish an international network of experts of researches and practitioners to enhance knowledge on topics related to home gardens, resilience and food security.

For more information.

Internship Possibilities

Internship possibilty


Usually, the ZEU internships last between 6-12 weeks. The internship will familiarize the intern with the ZEU’s current projects in, if possible, all its sections and to make him or her contribute to the projects’ preparation and implementation.


Professional, personal and formal requirements


You should 

  • be able to contribute professional know-how in development and environmental research;
  • have a good command of English;
  • be able to work in a team;
  • be able to work full-time at the ZEU (part-time work or a 4-day-week cannot be offered);
  • ideally be enrolled as a Master student;
  • provide verification that you will be serving an obligatory internship.


If you want to apply, please do so by an informal letter, containing information on the requested period of your internship,
  • your internship’s focus,
  • a short CV,
  • verification that your internship is obligatory; to this end, please refer to the relevant part of your study’s/faculty’s examination regulations.

For further information, please contact the ZEU’s managing director Dr. Matthias Höher .

For Giessen students only: Please note that FB 09 of JLU will not accept internships at the ZEU as it is an institution of JLU. Still, all students of FB 09 are also welcome at the ZEU!

For applicants of other universities: Please clarify with your faculty’s internship and examination office whether internships at the ZEU, as a university institution, will be accepted.



Please note: Free spaces available

as of October 1, 2019

Collecting folder-persons

Prof. Dr. Breitmeier appointed as a new board member

Date: 20/03/19

Helmut Breitmeier

Prof. Dr. Helmut Breitmeier was unanimously elected as a new member of the Executive Board on 13 February 2019 by the Center Council. Congratulations from the whole ZEU team, we are looking forward to a good teamwork.

Prof. Dr. Martin Petrick is the new Programme Director of MSc. "Transition Management"

Date: 19/03/19

Prof. Dr. Martin Petrick, professor of agricultural, food and environmental policy at Justus Liebig University Giessen, has been appointed by the Dean of Studies, Prof. Dr. Matthias Frisch (Faculty Agricultural Sciences, Nutritional Sciences, and Environmental Management), as the new Programme Director of the Master Programme "Transition Management".

Justus Liebig University Giessen (JLU) – The Film

Collecting folder-events

Summer school “Climate Change Impacts on the MED Agro-Food Chain”

9-14 September 2019 at the Schloss Rauischholzhausen, in Hessen, Germany.

Justus-Liebig-University Giessen and Aristotle University of Thessaloniki organize the international summer school “Climate Change Impacts on the MED Agro-Food Chain” that takes place 9-14 September 2019 at the Schloss Rauischholzhausen, in Hessen, Germany.

Scientists from the two universities joined with renowned international experts, focus on the Mediterranean basin and share their knowledge and expertise to train postgraduates and prepare them for a future interdisciplinary thinking and research that optimally address the challenges of the agro-food chain in the Mediterranean.

International young researchers (master and doctoral students as well as young postdocs) from the broader climate, agriculture, nutrition, social sciences, economics, geography and relevant disciplines are welcome to participate to the school.

Application deadline: 2nd June 2019

Registration fee: 150 EUR (covers accommodation, meals and reading material).

Information and application available at:

Alumni Event 2019

In 1998, the Center for international Development and Envi­ron­mental Research (ZEU) was founded as the successor of various other research institutions. This makes it the oldest center at Justus Liebig University. Now, after 20 years, alumni had a chance to celebrate with their ZEU, to meet friends, acquaintances and former principals, and to gain insight into the Center’s current activities.

Photo album