2021 Session at IGU Congress


Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the many restrictions on travel and the gathering of people in one single room, the ICG was held online via Zoom. The organizers of the 2021 IGC had decided to include in the programme special sessions on the COVID-19 pandemic. The virtual 34th IGU international Geographical Congress „Geography: Bridging the Continents“ was organized by Istanbul University and Turkish Geographical Society and was held from 16-20 August 2021. Our Commission was successfully represented by a special session dedicated to responses to Covid-19 (one out of total 10 Covid-sessions at the Congress).

The session was held at the beginning of the first day of the Congress - Monday morning (10-12 GMT) with presentations of 4 papers with very good attendance (around 20 participants). All presentations had been pre-recorded by the authors as a sort of backup in case of a failure in the system, but fortunately the live transmission functioned perfectly. The session was chaired by Prof. Armando Montanari (Italy)

The time limit for the four presentations was 60 minutes (including introduction, discussion, and conclusion); as a consequence, very little discussion could take place. This lack of social contacts is one of the great drawbacks of virtual conferences.

Session description: https://www.igc2020.org/en/BRIDGING-IN-A-COVIDIAN-WORLD-(OF-STILL)-INCREASING-INEQUALITIES.html

Bridging in a covidian world (of still) increasing inequalities / Construire des ponts dans un monde covidien aux inegalites (toujours) croissantes

Despite enormous progress the world still faces endemic issues of conflict, poverty and inequality, with unsustainable lifestyles, consumption and production patterns. » (ISC, Action Plan) This statement from the ISC Action Plan drafted and voted in 2019 says it all. Even with a broader and increasing awareness of their impacts, gathering a large consensus in the various populations of the world, inequalities are not disappearing: they have increased to an extent never attained before in the history of humankind. And, even if the world has been put on a "pause” mode in the first half of 2020, they are still increasing, by the day. Inequalities measured in terms of revenues, inequalities of chances, inequalities in education, they bear testimony to an increase in marginality in most of the various population classes, save the richest. In our Covidian world - we can say that because all decisions made are related somehow to this pandemic situation -, power relations have been changed drastically: some have gained a lot of power; some who already have less, have lost even more. Given, that less decision power in a given system means an increasing marginality, the consequences for our environments are of various types at all levels, including drastic changes to our climates. This assessment brings us to an obvious conclusion: studies about marginality are necessary, and more importantly, for such studies to contribute to actions that reduce inequalities. The mission of the Commission is to research marginality and the processes of marginalization from different perspectives and with a geographical basis. The main focus is to better understand multiscalar relations between the globalization process and how marginality evolves at the local and regional levels. Moreover, we seek to improve our understanding of local and regional responses to different forms of marginality and marginalization processes. For the Istanbul IGU Congress, the Commission is seeking papers that will contribute to the understanding of this general question: "How can we contribute to reducing marginality in a Covidian world?”. How can we bridge the gaps between those who have power to make decisions and those who have not (or who have lost) such power? With this general question in mind, we propose the following paper sessions:

1. Forces responsible for the dynamics and structures of marginality at various scales in the 2020 Covidian context.

2. The role of the various agents in those processes in the Covidian context.

3. Types of marginality in the Covidian context.

4. Responses to economic and societal problems with marginal people.

5. Development of theoretical and methodological tools.




Authors : Borna Fuerst-Bjelis - University of Zagreb, Faculty of Science, Ivan Sulc - University of Zagreb, Faculty of Science

Monday, August 16, 2021 - Slot 1 (10:00 - 11:00 (GMT))

This paper analyses impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Croatian tourism and questions the possible new chances of marginal areas in this context. The analysis is based on data on tourism arrivals, overnight stays and tourist beds in the period January – September in 2019 and 2020, as later data for 2020 was not available at the moment of writing. Generated from the online-registering system data was specially prepared by the Croatian Tourist Boards. Apart from an immense decline in all tourism parameters, which goes in line with global trends, the results of our research reveal changes that occurred in terms of seasonality, spatial distribution of tourism, average stay, organization of arrival, age, origin and type of accommodation used, according to the data available. The paper further discusses the global context of the pandemic situation and local and personal responses that have an important impact on re-directing and tracing eventually new tourism trajectories of the (post) pandemic time. Two principal groups of factors have been recognized as mostly affecting the processes, trends and possible future trajectories have been identified: on the one hand global movement and travel bans and restrictions, on the other hand personal responses reflected in motivation and behavioural changes. Changes that occurred in pandemic time are seen as catalysts for re-enforcement and raised interest in escapism and slow movements in tourism. Based on findings from available quantitative and qualitative data, authors are questioning the possibility of emerging new chances (or challenges) for marginalized areas in the context of observed developing new trajectories of tourism. Instead of seeking to ‘go back to business as usual’, the authors argue to reconsider the trajectories that emerged during the time of the pandemic and to envisage other approaches towards more sustainable tourism.

Keywords : tourism, escapism, slowness movement, COVID-19 pandemic, Croatia, marginal areas


Authors : José Manuel Crespo-Guerrero - Instituto de Geografía, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Araceli Jiménez-Pelcastre - Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades

Monday, August 16, 2021 - Slot 1 (10:00 - 11:00 (GMT))

Le secteur pêcheur au Mexique est important pour le développement socio-économique de ses régions côtières : l’extension de son littoral (15 069 km) on fait le troisième pays de l’Amérique. En 2018, la flotte de navires de pêche était constituée de 76 307 embarcations, dont 97.4% côtières. On estime à 300 000 les pêcheurs (79%) et les aquaculteurs (21%) mexicains. Ces données soulignent l’important rôle territorial de la pêche dans l’économie côtière. L’état de Yucatán qui rassemble 17 000 pêcheurs occupe la dixième position en production nationale. Les espèces yucatèques de plus grande valeur économique sont : le homard, le pulpe et le mérou.

La pandémie de la COVID-19 a affecté grandement le secteur pêcheur yucatèque : la réduction de la production et la chute de prix sont les conséquences du ralentissement du commerce international, la diminution du tourisme balnéaire ainsi que la prolongation des interdictions de pêche. Parallèlement, les événements hydrométéorologiques survenus en 2020 ont contribué á aggraver la situation. On peut se demander actuellement : quelle stratégie a-t-elle été adoptée pour soutenir le secteur en Yucatan ? Les données quantitatives fournies par les institutions de la pêche et les informations qualitatives obtenues sur place (à la fin du 2020) permettent de répondre à la question. Les résultats de l'analyse (inductive et axiale) des questionnaires appliqués (semi-structurés et non-structurés) ont été complétés avec les données quantitatives.

Notre recherche démontre l’absence de moyens complémentaires venant des autorités nationale et régionale, sans oublier, la fragilité du secteur à cause de sa dépendance exportatrice, en particulier des produits de haute valeur économique. Les initiatives des autorités locales et des organisations de pêcheurs ont ouvert de nouvelles formules de collaboration qui ont contribué à diminuer les ravages socioéconomiques du virus Sars-CoV-2.

Keywords : Géographie économique, Sars-CoV-2, ressources hydrobiologiques, pêche côtière, stratégies communautaires


Authors : Leimgruber Walter - Univ. of Fribourg/CH

Monday, August 16, 2021 - Slot 1 (10:00 - 11:00 (GMT))

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken the entire world by surprise. Within a few weeks, life came to an almost complete standstill. Lockdowns were enacted in many countries, boundaries were closed, and international travel became next to impossible. In March 2020, the Swiss Federal Government used the power given in the law on epidemics and proclaimed the ‘extraordinary situation’. Thereby it could shut down almost the entire country in order to fight the diffusion of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and the resulting COVID-19 disease. This pandemic hit the economy particularly hard, but also social interaction suffered heavily. The skiing season came to a premature end, hotels and restaurants had to close, even construction sites were temporarily halted. This measure boosted distance-working with a proliferation of home office activities and resulted in a decline in commuter traffic. It also involved the entire educational sector, from play-school to universities. Face-to-face teaching was replaced by distance teaching, a major transformation of how young people were to be prepared for life. The computer and working-sheets replaced the spontaneous contacts with the teachers, and social interaction in school gave way to isolation at home. Parents suddenly had to assume the role of supervisors and even teachers. The existence of computers and sufficient access to teaching programmes became a crucial issue. The restrictions were eventually lifted in May and hopes were high in summer that the nightmare was over.

However, the virus had not miraculously disappeared, and a second wave of the pandemic arrived in autumn and winter. This time the decision was taken to keep the schools open, respecting security measures had such asface-masks, hygiene, physical distancing.

Keywords : pandemic, Covid-19, education, school systems, Switzerland


Authors : Antoine Beaulieu - Université Laval

Monday, August 16, 2021 - Slot 1 (10:00 - 11:00 (GMT))

Extreme poverty endures globally despite attempts at every administrative level (international, national, regional, local) to eradicate it. The situation has even worsened since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, with millions of people worldwide expected to fall into a situation of extreme poverty due to the effects of the pandemic over the course of the current decade. This global crisis – the scale of individual and collective effects of which is still difficult to estimate – has triggered considerable disruptions to supply chains, fuelling existing concerns about food insecurity and worsening social inequalities, particularly in countries experiencing an accelerated global market integration, such as Việt Nam. Despite medium-high economic “growth”, a widening of social inequalities between the city and the countryside is noticeable in Việt Nam since the 1990s, arguably a consequence of the country's recent and precipitous integration into the globalized economy. Little remains known on how peasants cope with the rapid sociogeographic transformations associated with the relentless rhythm of an increasingly productivist and commercially-orientated global agricultural sector, particularly in the specific context of post-collectivist farming systems, such as in Việt Nam. Given the significance of the changes expected in the agri-food and manufacturing sectors (e.g.: new trade agreements in 2019-2020, disruption of supply chains in the context of COVID-19, and the increasing and cumulative effects of climate change), better understanding of how peasants cope with such changes appears critical. How then have Vietnamese peasants adjusted to tensions caused – at the international level since the mid-1990s – by their country’s increasingly rapid integration into the global economy? How are they coping with current tensions? This communication is exploratory and presents the first results of doctoral fieldwork analyzing peasant adaptation strategies (i.e.: livelihood diversification, including farming and non-farming activities) in rural areas of Việt Nam’s Southern region.

Keywords : Globalization, Integration, Adaptation, Việt Nam