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Workshop “Exploration of Futures” SARAS 2016

Over the past years, SARAS2 organized a series of annual conferences, as well as research and teaching activities focusing on the analysis of resilience and sustainability of social-ecological systems.


The context

The construction of the Institute at Bella Vista-Maldonado now marks a transition point to a new phase. In the coming years, we envision working with partners across Latin America interested in sharing the conceptual, methodological and organizational approaches used by SARAS2 and our partner, the Stockholm Resilience Center.

The construction of diverse platforms across the continent for fostering the interaction of scientific domains, as well as the arts to deepen our frameworks in the fields of sustainability and resilience, is part of the current SARAS vision.

In this context, the " Exploration of Futures " workshop aimed at building a network of partners interested in working on interdisciplinary and innovative projects on issues of resilience, sustainable use of resources, generation of new capacities, among others.

On December 17th and 18th, members of the SARAS advisory committee worked together with national and international experts in the formulation of strategic objectives and the generation of concrete themes and projects for the institute.

The workshop was attended by experts from Latin America, the United States and Europe, who worked together using participatory and innovative methodologies.


Transdiciplinary Waste Hub

Project manager
Lucía Fernandez

In an increasing urbanized and unequal world, sustainability and resilience of cities become crucial. SARAS will start developing a transdisciplinary network of researchers on urban waste management. This will fulfill an increasing gap within the academia, including an urban ecological approach, which is very necessary. Using our existing contacts and networks we will start compiling a portfolio of academics from the region with the aim to start up a waste academic hub that could provide advice to policy makers as well as create South American-based specific research. SARAS will host this collaborative art & science academic network that foster waste-related issues, such as:

-       intersection of water and waste from an urban ecological perspective;

-       behavioural changes towards waste by using economic, psychological and philosophical approaches; and

-       filmography, documentaries and urban performances tackling waste.

Harnessing the complexity in continental landscapes and marine seascapes

Project manager
Matias Piaggio

Sustainable and resilient land-use and fisheries management requires important changes in ecosystem based practices and technology. These changes have important consequences in the ecosystem services that different stake holders perceive. Moreover, despite the fact that ecosystem based practices and technologies can be beneficial to society and profitable to farmers and fishers, economic and non-economic barriers can avoid their adoption.

The present working group is aimed at creating a regional network for the analysis of practices and technology for sustainable development in Latin America. The program is going to be grounded in local case studies. Each case study is going to be conducted in a way that allows to: i) identify practices, technology and governance schemes that allow for the sustainable development of resource exploitation based in resilience, ii) map changes in ecosystem services as a consequence of the implementation of these practices and technologies, iii) identify winners and losers, and value trade-offs, and iii) identify and analyze the underlying barriers for the adoption of these practices and technologies.

Case studies are going to be developed at a national level, and are going to be integrated into a regional program. The regional program is going to help building similar methods and approaches to allow for comparability and to produce a synthetic analysis to provide: i) generalizations in terms of the factors determining the adoption of practices, technologies, as well as governance schemes in fisheries and agricultural land use, and ii) ecosystem services and externality spillovers between fisheries and agricultural land-use.

Social-Ecological Lab 

Project manager
Cristina Zurbriggen
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The Lab will focus on exploring the dynamics of social-ecological systems from a systemic and transdisciplinary approach (integrative disciplines such as economics, politics, etc.) to tackle complex sustainability issues. The aim is to develop new strategies and innovate projects that contribute to the transition toward sustainability. 

We want to introduce diverse methodological tools such as future methods (scenario analysis), modeling methods, dialog method, governance analysis, characterization of networks, participatory territorial planning, among others. This project intends to tend bridges between researchers, artists, relevant stakeholders  and decision-makers in order to build adaptive capacity for the sustainability of the ecosystem services for human well-being.

Positive Futures in the Anthropocene

Project manager
Stephen Carpenter
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Stories are powerful. We become the stories we learn and create. For this reason, structured sets of stories, or scenarios, are often used for collective learning and decision-making about complex, highly uncertain social-ecological problems. In the present time of massive environmental change and high uncertainty, we have many dark scenarios of dystopian futures. Positive, attractive scenarios for a better Anthropocene are few and often rather similar. Thus there is great need for diverse, positive scenarios about Anthropocene challenges. This project will develop new, novel, positive, attractive scenarios for the Anthropocene in South Americ and make the compelling through art and science working together.

SARAS as a bridging organization

Project manager
Manfred Steffen
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Extreme climatic events, sudden changes in the behavior of social-ecological systems and the increase of conflicts related to the access to ecosystem services constitute a scenario of an unprecedented intensity and scope. Policy-makers in government positions as well as in Parliament need to acquire knowledge about complex phenomena. The academia has to improve the channels of communication to reach decision-makers. This is an opportunity for SARAS to build bridges and to become a partner in these decision-making processes. The first step in this project will focus on capacity building around water management particularly in the basin commissions, created recently in Uruguay. The methodology will include workshops as well as networking among institutions related to water issues.

Interdisciplinary group on the Arts, Humanities, and Science

Project manager
Jorge Marcone
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SARAS2 is committed to collaborate with the development, visibility, and recognition of the Environmental Humanities in South America. In this line, we propose to organize an international conference that would bring together South American writers and scientists, and scholars in the humanities who practice an ecological or environmental approach to the study of the arts, literature, film, and culture in general.

The objective of this event is to facilitate an open dialogue and a place-based collaboration, within the community of sustainability and resilience studies, on the current and future contributions of the humanities. Additionally, as an output of the conference, we plan to publish an anthology of environmental essays written by the participating writers, humanists and scientists, and by other writers responding to an open call for contributions.

Hacking sustainable diets

Project manager
Juan Rocha
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One of the major challenges humanity face today is feeding 9 billion people by 2050 while tackling both health and environmental crises. While about a billion people worldwide live in poverty and suffer from nutrient deficiency, another billion suffer from obesity in a planet where food production is one of the key drivers of climate change, deforestation, and environmental degradation. Where do we start searching for solutions?

The ingredients for creating a sustainable diet are already around us, in our traditional dishes, in our culture. Healthy diets are thought to be within the range of 2000-2500 kcals per person per
day. Many Latin American countries and Southern Asia diets fall within this range. But how do we identify sustainable menus? How do we assess the pros and cons in such a way that the menu
respects our health, the farmers, and the ecosystems where food is produced? Our working group will look at these questions by opening a dialogue between chefs, artists, scientists, and policy makers.


About Saras

The South American Institute for Resilience and Sustainability Studies (SARAS) is an emerging transdisciplinary institute designed to generate critical insights allowing South America to build sustainable futures. It seeks integration across a broad range of knowledge using innovative approaches and integrating social and natural sciences, mathematics and arts.

Get In Touch

Los Teros esq. Cardenales, Bella Vista, Maldonado, Uruguay

(+598) 4432 5476