Photo of Mette Fog Olwig
  • Universitetsvej 1, 14.2

    DK-4000 Roskilde



Research output per year

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Personal profile


My PhD research was part of the University of Copenhagen’s interdisciplinary Waterworlds Research Center at the Department of Anthropology ( and applied a multi-sited, multi-level ethnographic/geographic perspective on the social and cultural dimensions of climate change and development. The study focused on changes in development policy and practice occurring in times of climate change anxiety, and how these changes influence local lives and livelihood possibilities. Fieldwork took place in Ghana within the context of the unusually severe northern Ghanaian floods of 2007 that were widely attributed to climate change. The decision to emphasize the social dimensions of climate change during my PhD research was partially inspired by my participation in an earlier collaborative study that examined the protective effects of mangrove forests in the context of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. This study was based upon geographical information systems and remote sensing techniques. The PhD research built on the work of social researchers who seek to counterbalance a tendency toward overly technocratic and technologically oriented research and policy on disaster management and climate change adaptation by emphasizing how the social context has an impact on both the environment and people’s ability to mobilize and sustain local resources. I investigated, firstly, conceptualizations of climate change among donors by examining their use of some of the key terms applied in policy and analysis concerning climate change and development, most notably “resilience;” secondly, how local development practitioners in northern Ghana approach these concepts, with particular focus on “vulnerability,” and implement them in their work; and thirdly, how the concepts and rhetoric, associated with development, have shaped recipients’ perceptions of their own opportunities and abilities. When selecting “recipients,” I focused on two organizations, an NGO and a fair trade initiative.

Since my employment at RUC I have been involved in the research cluster Celebrities as New Global Actors, where I build on my interests in ethical consumption and ethical labeling by examining celebrity-led benefit events. I have also been involved in a project on land grabbing in Tanzania and am currently part of a project on natural disasters and climate change in Vietnam. I have regional experience from Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Vietnam and The Caribbean.

Academic Background and Employment Record

I have an international and interdisciplinary academic background. My BA degree is in Geography and International Development and my MA degree is in International Development and Social Change, both from Clark University, Massachusetts. My PhD degree is in Geography from the University of Copenhagen.

I have worked at the NGO The Institute for Local Self-Reliance, where I did research on biobased and biodegradable plastics companies, products and issues; at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington DC, as a research assistant attached to a project focusing on geoengineering in relation to climate change; and at Informi GIS A/S, an IT-company supporting the use of GIS by companies and organizations. Additionally, I have volunteered at Butik fisk, DanChurchAid (Folkekirkens Nødhjælp) where I was project leader of Butik fisk’s booth at the Roskilde Festival and promoted fair trade in general in Denmark as well as the fair trade fashion line SKIFt Trade Fair produced in Burkina Faso and Guatemala. I also interned at GRAS, an independent, non-profit company working with GIS and Remote Sensing projects globally; at USEPAM, a capacity building project to improve research-based environmental education, training, and policy-relevant applied research at Hanoi Agricultural University, Vietnam, and at the Danish Consumer Council (Forbrugerrådet), an NGO working for consumers’ interests, where I interviewed key stakeholders on benefits and problems of ethical labeling.


  • Industrial development, Development economics and planning, Developing countries
  • fair trade
  • ethical consumption
  • celebrity and north-south relations
  • ethnography of the development sector (including a focus on donors, developers, recipients, discourse and narratives)
  • Environment, Energy, Nature, Resources
  • social dimensions of climate change and natural catastrophes
  • sustainable development
  • Geography, Geology, Topography
  • cultural geography
  • GIS
  • remote sensing

Publication network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output

Governance and Livelihoood Impacts of Forest Conservation Partnerships in Kilwa District, Tanzania

Mwamfupe, A., Olwig, M. F., Bwagalilo, F. & Silvano, P., Jan 2020, 4 ed., Copenhagen: Copenhagen Business School, 69 p. (NEPSUS Working Paper Series).

Research output: Working paperResearch

Open Access
Open Access

Forestry Decentralization Policies and Community-based Forest Enterprises in Tanzania: A Literature Review

Bwagalilo, F., Mwamfupe, A. & Olwig, M. F., 2019, Copenhagen: Copenhagen Business School, 23 p. (NEPSUS Working Paper Series; No. 2019/1).

Research output: Working paperResearch

Open Access

The Corporate Karma Carnival: Offline and Online Games, Branding and Humanitarianism at the Roskilde Festival

Christiansen, L. B. & Olwig, M. F., 4 Jan 2019, Global Humanitarianism and Media Culture . Lawrence, M. & Tavernor, R. (eds.). Manchester: Manchester University Press, p. 246-267 22 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

Open Access

ANALYTICAL CODING USING NVIVO: Qualitative Data Coding by a Team of Interdisciplinary Researchers

Olwig, M. F., 8 Nov 2018

Research output: Other contributionNet publication - Internet publicationEducation

Open Access


Feltarbejde Roskilde Festival

Christiansen, L. B., Olwig, M. F. & Mubanda Rasmussen, L.


Project: Research

Entailments of Large-Scale Land Investments on Agriculture and Food Security in Mufindi East, Tanzania

Olwig, M. F., Kangalawe, R., Noe, C. & Luoga, E.


Project: Research

Celebrities as New Global Actors

Christiansen, L. B., Richey, L. A., Mubanda Rasmussen, L., Hood, J. & Olwig, M. F.


Project: Research


Association of American Geographers' Annual Meeting

Mette Fog Olwig (Organizer)

31 Mar 2016

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventOrganisation and participation in conference

Global Environmental Change (Journal)

Mette Fog Olwig (Peer reviewer)

2016 → …

Activity: Editorial work and peer reviewPeer review of manuscriptsResearch

Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke på Folkemødet 2016: Frivillig i et uland: fattigdomsturisme eller globalt udsyn?

Mette Fog Olwig (Speaker)

19 Jun 2016

Activity: Talk or presentationLecture and oral contribution

Land Use Policy (Journal)

Mette Fog Olwig (Peer reviewer)

2015 → …

Activity: Editorial work and peer reviewPeer review of manuscriptsResearch

NARN: Nordic Africa Research Network (External organisation)

Mette Fog Olwig (Member)

3 Mar 2015 → …

Activity: MembershipMembership in committee, council, board

Press / Media

A bit too simple

Mette Fog Olwig


1 item of Media coverage

Press/Media: Press / Media

Simplified narratives concerning climate change issues overshadow solutions

Mette Fog Olwig


1 item of Media coverage

Press/Media: Press / Media

Simplified narratives concerning climate change issues overshadow solutions

Mette Fog Olwig


1 item of Media coverage

Press/Media: Press / Media