Malika Virah Swamy

Dr. Malika Virah-Sawmy

Fellow (Alumni)

As an activist, facilitator, researcher and in the past as a conservation manager, Malika has been engaged in social transformation within and at the fringes of institutions. Most of her creative force right now is in facilitation. She works on systems change, with companies, institutions such as the UN, NGOs, and with social movement such as Extinction Rebellion and Deep Adaptation Network. She integrates various state-of-the-art facilitation approaches enabling embodied, emotional, and cognitive intelligence. In other words, she uses practices such as storytelling, role plays and performances, constellations, and mindfulness to unpack the different layers beneath problems, behaviors, and mindsets. These different forms of practices can help support collective transformation processes and in this way achieve more purpose-driven decision-making and re-imagining futures. The insights she has gained in her facilitation work led Malika to ask deeper questions. How can we engage in collective transformation by also reflecting on ourselves in the system, especially the mindsets of scarcity, separation, measurement, and mistrust in life processes, that we have inherited and that we consciously or unconsciously perpetuate? At RIFS, she is engaged in research in environmental psychology and co-creative practices. Malika wants to understand the mindsets and psychological barriers we need to work with intelligently in times of climate change and ecological crisis. Her research also aims to create and assess experiences that help face and work with these barriers and mindsets.

Publications at the RIFS

Publications prior to joining the RIFS

  • L Kehoe et al. (2020). Inclusion, Transparency, and Enforcement: How the EU-Mercosur Trade Agreement Fails the Sustainability Test. One Earth 3, 268-272.
  • AM Guerrero, NA Jones, H Ross, M Virah-Sawmy, D Biggs (2020). What influences and inhibits reduction of deforestation in the soy supply chain? A mental model perspective. Environmental Science and Policy 115, 125-132
  • AP Durán et al. (2020). A practical approach to measuring the biodiversity impacts of land conversion. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 11, 910-921.
  • L Kehoe, T Reis, M Virah-Sawmy, et al. (2019). Make EU trade with Brazil sustainable. Science 364, 6438.
  • Gillson et al, including M Virah-Sawmy (2019). Finding common ground between adaptive management and evidence-based approaches to biodiversity conservation. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 34, 31-44.
  • M Virah-Sawmy et al. (2019). Sustainability gridlock in a global agricultural commodity chain: reframing the soy-meat food system. Sustainable Consumption and Production 18, 210-223.
  • J Green et al, including M Virah-Sawmy. (2019). Linking drivers of global agricultural commodity trade to on-the-ground impacts on species PNAS 116, 23202-23208.
  • R Pitt et al, including M Virah-Sawmy (2018). Did we have an impact?: Wresting the complexity of evaluation for organisations at the boundary of science, policy and practice. Conservation Biology 32, 998-1006.
  • Joppa et al., including M Virah-Sawmy (2017). Filling the Biodiversity Threat Gaps. Science 352, (6284), 416-418