Semie Sama


Semie Memuna Sama holds an LL.B. from the University of Buea (Cameroon), two M.Sc. degrees from the University of Mid Sweden and the University of Stockholm (Sweden) and an LL.M. from the University of Ottawa. Her primary interest lies in the fields of global environmental governance and sustainable development, with a particular focus on the interrelationships within and between law, governance, justice, environment, human rights and investment.

The principal objective of Ms. Semie's doctoral research project is to examine the problem of land-grabbing—a phenomenon that is being promoted by powerful transnational companies and global financial institutions as a recipe for world food security, energy security, and environmental sustainability—through an environmental justice lens. To achieve her goal, she assessed the concept of environmental justice and investigated the threats that land-grabbing pose to local land rights in Africa. She also critically evaluated the adequacy of international guidelines, in addition to Cameroon’s land tenure rules and EIA system, to promote responsible agricultural investing and safeguard environmental rights of local farmers, hunters, fishers, herders and other vulnerable groups. Her overarching objective is to identify strategies for addressing land-grabbing and promoting environmental justice in subsistence communities in Cameroon.

Ms. Semie grew up in South West Cameroon, the region with the greatest concentration of foreign direct investment in agriculture anywhere in the country. As a youngster, she witnessed how the Government of Cameroon constantly allocated environmental rights over thousands of hectares of farmland from subsistence communities to transnational corporations and foreign governments for the development of, inter alia, food, feed, biofuel, and carbon-offsetting projects. She also observed many ways in which these projects disposed poor communities of land that they have routinely used for ages in order to accommodate domestic policy decisions promoting foreign agricultural investments. This experience inspired Ms. Semie to assist in providing communities vulnerable to land-grabbing a nurturing environment to realize their environmental rights and capabilities and fulfill their potential in dignity and equality and a healthy environment.

Ms. Semie Sama is a three-time winner of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Scholarship in Environment and Sustainability (2011-2014) and the University of Ottawa’s Partial International Admission Scholarship (2011-2014). She was privileged to work as a Research Assistant and Guest Lecturer for many Professors of the University of Ottawa’s Center for Environmental Law and Global Sustainability. She has facilitated paper-based exams and group invigilation, presented academic papers at domestic and international conferences and authored and co-authored peer-reviewed articles and book chapters.