SARAS presented several papers at the 2017 Resilience Conference in Stockholm.

SARAS presented several papers at the 2017 Resilience Conference in Stockholm. Source:

Since 2008 and every three years, the Stockholm Resilience Center (Sweden) together with the Resilience Alliance (USA) hold the Resilience conference, which is attended by the most influential academics in resilience and sustainability.

The Resilience 2017 conference was held on August 20-23 in Stockholm, Sweden, where the main challenges of sustainability science were analyzed from five cross-cutting perspectives: socio-ecological transformations; connectivity and inter-scalar dynamics of the Anthropocene; multi-level governance and biosphere stewardship; approaches and methods for understanding socio-ecological system dynamics; contributions of resilient thinking.

The conference provided a space for reflection and analysis on scientific progress in the field, and determined future lines of research. The main focus was on global sustainability challenges and opportunities, which today are heavily influenced by the speed, scale and connectivity of the Anthropocene. 

After a rigorous collection of scientific works from around the world by a specialized scientific committee, a number of papers presented by the SARAS2 Institute were selected: Sustainability Science in Latin America: who is doing what?, Art-science interactions - experience from SARAS in Uruguay, The role of experimental Labs in socio-ecological transformations for sustainability, Reconciling Art and Science for Sustainability. "There were also round table discussions on Art-science interactions - experience from SARAS2 in Uruguay and Resilience science, creativity and art in turbulent times.

Uruguayan members of the SARAS Institute were present Néstor Mazzeo (Executive Director), Cristina Zurbriggen (Advisory Board member) and Manfred Steffen (Executive Board member). 

In attendance as part of SARAS international members were: Marten Scheffer (Director), Henrik Österblom (Advisory Board member), Juan Rocha (Executive Board member), and two SARA' Fellows (Ex- Advisory Board members): Carl Folke and Frances Westley. 

For its part Angela Leible (Chile), Francisco Gazitua (Chile) and Tone Bjordam (Norway) were the artists who presented their work on art-science interactions.

For more information on the 2017 Resilience conference click  here


1. Sustainability Science in Latin America: who is doing what?
Juan Rocha, Matias Piaggio, Nestor Mazzeo
Resilience and sustainability science have been vibrant areas of research worldwide. Concepts, theory and methods have developed within the scientific realm and appropriated on the policy one. However, these developments have followed different scholarly trajectories responding to local needs and priorities, especially in developing countries. Here we review the development of resilience and sustainability science in the Latin American context. Using tools rom text mining, we analyse a corpora of 5299 records retrieved from the Web of Science and map a network of actors, funding agencies, and the evolution of key topics over time. We found that although there is a back bone network of authors and collaborations, it is dominated by researchers based in non-Latin American countries, and fails to connect with a large bulk of minor groups scattered across the continent. In fact, with exception of Brazil, the major funding agencies supporting sustainability science research have been based in the United States, Europe, and with a lesser extend in China. Topic modelling reveals high levels of interdisciplinary across Latin American scholars. Major topics centre around natural resource management and agricultural development. Topics related to energy issues, from clean energy to mining and biofuels, are becoming more trendy over time; while topics related to health (e.g. HIV), learning, schooling, justice, tourism and violence seem constant over time. Resilience and sustainability science have provided Latin American scholars with a common language, shared conceptual frameworks, and very similar context and research problems. Our results suggest that there is scope for larger regional collaborations. While local funding might be a limitation, current communication technologies and knowing who is doing what can facilitate such cooperation. Here we provide such map.

2. The role of experimental Labs in socio-ecological transformations for sustainability
Cristina Zurbriggen, Mariana González, Maria Mancilla
Due to the complex, systemic and interrelated nature of the serious social, economic and environmental problems that human societies currently confront, entirely new responses are required. As humans, we must learn to think differently about our complex world and to work together in unusual and strategic new ways. We need to more fully see and understand the systems within which we all exist so that we can learn to identify and create conditions for public innovation. Therefore, we need to change the traditional ways of thinking about social change and policy-making in order to foster system changes. Partial or sectorial interventions will not bring transformative innovations. Only systemic changes will allow us to develop resilient, adaptive and effective management patterns. In this context, this paper aims to analyze the role of experimental Labs in promoting a reflexive culture that facilitates new ways of addressing complex socio-ecological problems and transforming new ideas into practical action that will eventually lead to the emergence of new values. Labs are conceived as creative spaces that bring together diverse stakeholders to help them understand the challenges at stake from a system perspective. At the same time, Labs enhance interfaces through a creative, dynamic and adaptive learning process, characterized by transdisciplinary co-creation of knowledge, interactivity and experimentation. This paper will discuss the role of Labs, considering the following dimensions: purposes, principles, participants, structures and practices. Based on these dimensions, the aim is to conceptualize their role in contributing to socio-ecological transformations for sustainability. Also, it will be focused on key areas for experimentation and transformation in public policies for sustainability: future framing of the challenges for sustainability; understanding knowledge generation in action for decision-making; and experimentation of new public policies towards a sustainable development. Art-science interactions - experience from SARAS in Uruguay

3. Cross-cutting perspectives on resilience
Chair/s: Néstor Mazzeo Beyhaut
This session will explore how artists and scientists are collaborating at the South American Institute for Resilience and Sustainability Studies (SARAS2), an interdisciplinary research institute aimed at contributing substantially to the production of knowledge and capacity building in processes and mechanisms that determine the sustainability of ecosystem services, key to determining human well-being. SARAS2 is a joint initiative between the University of Wageningen (Netherlands), the University of the Republic (Uruguay), Resillience Alliance (USA), the Ministry of Education and Culture (Uruguay) and Maldonado Municipal Government (Uruguay). This session will feature a background of the institute and its history, presentations from some of the artists that have been engaged in its activities, as well as reflections about challenges and opportunities associated to collaboration between scientists and artists. Panelists: Marten Scheffer (Synergy Program for Analyzing resilience and critical transitions, and  Aquatic ecology and Water Quality Management Group, University of Wageningen and SARAS Institute), Francisco Gazitua, (Independent Chilean artist) Angela Leible (Independent Chilean artist) Henrik Österblom (Stockholm Resilience Centre and SARAS Institute). 

4. Reconciling Art and Science for Sustainability
Marten Scheffer, Laurie Beth Clarke, Carl Folke, Jesse Lee Kercheval, Néstor Mazzeo Beyhaut, Henrik Österblom, Frances Westley.
Scientific discoveries rely on creative thinking, and several authors have explored similarities in and differences between creativity in the sciences and that in the arts. The creative thinking draws upon two kinds of processes linked to distinct physiological features and stimulated under different conditions. In few words, the fast system-I produces intuition whereas the slow and deliberate system-II produces reasoning. System-I can help see novel solutions and associations instantaneously, but is prone to error. System-II has other biases, but can help checking and modifying the system-I results. Although thinking is the core business of science, the accepted ways of doing our work focus almost entirely on facilitating system-II. We summarize the results of the recently articles published in the Special Issue of Ecology and Society, entitled Reconciling Art and Science for Sustainability, specifically explore the main contributions and alternatives that promote the creative thinking, the knowledge co-production and the social-ecological resilience. The key aspects considered are: (1) the contribution of defragmentation, unstructured socializing time and education for daring exploration at education centers; 2) the possible ways in which science can learn from the arts; (3) the role of arts and artistic processes; (3) the significant addition of participatory art and coproduced artwork; (4) the contribution of the art of magic and visual imagery; (5) the potential of photography for identifying cultural preferences or relevant ecosystem services; (6) the important addition of participatory theater for exploring future scenarios; (7) the potential of poetry as a method of data analysis and communication in social-ecological research.
Access Ecology and Society Special Issue "Reconciling Art and Science for Sustainability"

5. Resilience science, creativity and art in turbulent times
In this session, we explore the role of resilience science and the arts for creating new opportunities in response to current turbulent events in the world. Our keynote presenters have worked with art to explore resilience, and how biosphere stewardship can help build resilience in a post-conflict region.
Presenter 1: Tone Bjordam, Norweigan artist working with projects related to nature, perception and ecology.
Presenter 2: Marten Scheffer, Professor, Aquatic Ecology and Water Quality Management group, Wageningen University and the South American Institute for Resilience and Sustainability Studies’ SARAS.
Presenter 3: Brigitte Baptiste, General Director of the Alexander von Humboldt Biological Resources Research Institute, Colombia
Discussant: Line Gordon, Ass. Professor, Deputy director and deputy science director, Stockholm Resilience Centre
Science and art video
Angela Leible
Francisco Gazitua, sculptor


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.

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