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Report on the Kickoff event of the Project Youth engagement of Fridays for Future

© Michaela Hochmuth

Youth engagement of Fridays for Future. An intersectional and global perspective of Fridays for Future
Kick-off workshop 11th to 12th of April 2024

In order to launch the project "Youth Activism and Fridays For Future. An intersectional and global perspective" (funded by the Austrian Science Fund), a kick-off workshop was organised on 11-12 April 2024. Against the backdrop of the 2019 wave of environmental youth movements inspired by Greta Thunberg (Fridays For Future movement), it is evident that youth engagement has not received in-depth academic attention, neither in the field of youth studies nor in social movement studies, and especially not with regard to youth engagement in the Global South. This project aims to fill this knowledge gap by conducting a comparative study of environmental youth activism in Austria, Uganda and Bangladesh, focusing on environmental activists in the Global South. The project will be carried out in partnership between the University of Vienna (Austria), Makerere University (Uganda) and Jahangirnagar University (Bangladesh).

After months of extensive desk research by the project team to gain in-depth knowledge of the contexts, especially the different actors in the different settings, a kick-off workshop was organised to launch the project. The workshop served as a platform to communicate the project's objectives to the general public. To this end, a panel discussion on "Environmental Activism from a Global Perspective" was organised on Thursday 11 April as part of the Department of Development Studies' public lecture series, the ie.talks. Moderated by Fahima Al Farabi, the panelists Prof. Dr. Esuruku from Makerere University (Uganda), Prof. Dr. Naher from Jahangirnagar University (Bangladesh), Dr. Antje Daniel and Prof. Dr. Petra Dannecker (both University of Vienna, Austria) discussed questions of environmental activism from a global perspective. Students, staff and interested members of the public attended the event. The panel discussion and the two-day workshop were a great success, especially the latter, which provided a space and platform for the team and project coordinators to meet, share and plan the next steps together. The project team is currently preparing for their first field trips to Uganda and Bangladesh.

Project leader: Dr. Daniel, Department of Development Studies, University of Vienna
Co-project leader: Prof. Dr. Dannecker, Department of Development Studies, University of Vienna
Cooperation partner: Prof. Dr. Naher, Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka and Prof. Dr. Esuruku, Makarere University

Funded by: Austrian Science Fond (FWF) 2023-2026

Project page: Youth activism and Fridays for Future. An intersectional and global perspective (

Research stays in Ethiopia and Kenya – September/October 2022, and February/March 2023

©Felix Maile

by Felix Maile, Shika Sethia and Cornelia Staritz


As part of the AfricaApparel project – a partnership that includes the University of Nairobi, Mekelle University, the Copenhagen Business School, the King’s College London and the University of Vienna, we travelled twice to Ethiopia and to Kenya. The Africa Apparel project examines whether and under which conditions Ethiopia’s and Kenya’s integration into the global apparel industry can be sustainable for both supplier firms and workers.
During the first trip in September and October 2022, we wanted to understand what the sourcing patterns of global fashion brands and retailers entail for value capture, working conditions and wages in apparel export factories in Ethiopia and Kenya. Together with our project colleagues, we conducted two different surveys with general managers, human resources managers and production managers of supplier firms based in several industrial parks in Ethiopia (Bole Lemi, Adama and Hawasa) and two locations in Kenya (Machakos/Nairobi area and Mombasa/ Kilifi area). We also conducted semi-structured interviews with government officials from key institutions such as the Ethiopian Investment Commission, the Kenyan Export Processing Zone Authority (EPZA), as well as with representatives from the respective trade unions, fashion brands and retailers, and research institutes.
During a second visit in February and March 2023, we conducted follow-up interviews with several firms and met with our team members for a workshop in Nairobi, where we discussed the results of the surveys and interviews: the COVID-19 pandemic, the civil war in Ethiopia and the related loss of the AGOA duty-free access to the US market,  and the recent recession in the EU and the US all appeared to have had a severe impact for both supplier firms and workers in Ethiopia, and to a lesser extent also in Kenya, as some factories closed and workers were laid off. Further, the value that is retained in both countries is limited due to several factors: The end buyers are setting the prices and requirements and thus leave low margins for supplier firms; the AGOA scheme allows for imported inputs so that the activities done in Ethiopia and Kenya are mostly limited to the final assembly of apparel products; and the sector is dominated by foreign-owned firms that have offshore headquarters. In Kenya, the situation is particularly challenging for local firms that face difficulties in accessing finance and receiving direct orders from buyers, and thus often work on a subcontract basis for foreign-owned supplier firms. In Ethiopia, there are almost no locally owned firms that export. Wages in Ethiopia are far lower than in Kenya, and working conditions in the region are problematic – we received anecdotal evidence of union-busting, sexual harassment complaints and unfair dismissals. At the same time, the trade unions are a stable political force in Kenya and unionization is gaining ground in Ethiopia, which has the potential to protect workers’ interests and to improve the overall working conditions in these factories.



Research stay in Peru, February/March 2023

©Alina Heuser

by Alina Heuser

I recently conducted a seven-week exploratory research stay in the Andean highlands of Peru as well as in Lima, its capital city, in order to connect with fellow researchers, activists, and community members working on or affected by socio-ecological conflicts in the context of mining extractivism. I aimed to learn from their thoughts, experiences, and insights on gender and protest. My research stay took place at the CISEPA social sciences research centre of the Pontificia Universidad Católica, where I previously studied Anthropology and Political Sciences during my Bachelor's degree. During my research stay, I collected empirical data using ethnographic methods, primarily through qualitative interviews, informal conversations, and participant observation. I focused on understanding the impact of mining on gender relations and local protest movements. My fieldwork initially took me to Cajamarca and its surrounding provinces, where I had the opportunity to participate in a gathering of environmental activists and community members in the Valle of Condebamba. There, I met some of the women environmental defenders from the newly formed cooperative, Cooperativa Mujeres Defensoras y Emprendadoras. Additionally, I conducted fieldwork in the southern mining corridor, specifically in the region of Espinar, where the Tintaya-Antapaccay copper mine is located. Throughout my research stay, I received valuable support from CISEPA as well as from members of Red Muqui, Grufides and Derechos Humanos sin Fronteras. I am looking forward to continuing our collaboration in the future. I had the opportunity to share and discuss my research insights during an open lecture held at PUCP on March 20th. The event brought together actors of environmental activism, NGOs, and social science scholars. Additionally, an interview (conducted in Spanish) about my research experience at CISEPA can be found at the website of Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas, Económicas, Políticas y Antropológicas (CISEPA) of the Pontifícia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP).

Link: Ciclo de entrevistas a investigadoras pasantes: Alina Heuser - CISEPA | Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas, Económicas, Políticas y Antropológicas – Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (

Research Stays in the DRC, Zambia and Zimbabwe 2022/2023

©Aleksandra Wojewska

by Aleksandrea Wojewska

In my thesis, I explore how the prices of cobalt and lithium are determined. First, I analyse the financial trading processes at metal derivative markets through which world prices of cobalt and lithium are set. I then trace across scales – from derivative markets to mining sites – how the resulting world prices are taken up by actors engaged in the extraction, processing and trade of these metals. I specifically focus on the distributive outcomes of these processes in three producer countries – DRC and Zambia for cobalt as well as Zimbabwe for lithium.

The empirical data collection for my thesis has been ongoing since autumn 2021. In November 2021, I conducted semi-structured interviews in London with representatives of the key global derivative market for metals - the London Metal Exchange - as well as with Price Reporting Agencies, commercial metal traders and financial investors. Throughout December 2021, I conducted online interviews with financial investors, commercial traders and trading associations based in Switzerland. These two rounds of interviews had the common objective of characterising mechanisms and practices related to determination world prices.

In 2022, I travelled to DRC (20.05-11.06) and Zambia (12.06 -1.07), where I conducted interviews with policy actors, mining and processing companies, international and national traders, artisanal miners and civil society organisations. In 2023 I conducted a fieldwork in Zimbabwe (09.01-04.02) funded by Kurzfristige wissenschaftliche Auslandsstipendien (KWA) grant at the University of Vienna, where I conducted interviews with civil society and sector experts who work or are active in the field of lithium mining and minerals. During my fieldworks I developed close links with The University of Lubumbashi in DRC, the Southern African Institute for Policy and Research (SAIPAR) in Zambia and the Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (ZELA) in Zimbabwe. The objective of fieldworks in these three countries was to characterise the price transmission mechanisms, explore how the prices established at derivative markets are taken up in physical trade as well as to investigate the distribution of the value from extraction, processing, and trade of lithium and cobalt across actors and locations.

I am planning two further research stays as a part of my thesis, funded by the OeAD Marietta Blau-Grant. In autumn 2023 I will conduct research in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia over the course of 12 weeks and in spring 2024 I will travel to London for three months to conduct follow-up interviews and archival research on commodity derivative trading.