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Seeking sustainable pathways for land use in Latin America



Natural resources and ecosystems are under increasing pressure as human demands for food, water, fiber, and energy expand in an accelerating pace. In response, the allocation of resource and in particular land has been shifting along with agricultural systems of production. These changes have the potential to lead to profound changes on the functioning of ecosystems, as well as the services they can provide.

Public Conferences SARAS 2016, March 1 st. Main Room, Centro Universitario de la Región Este, Maldonado, Uruguay



Organizing team:
Miguel Carriquiry (IEcon - UdelaR), Lisa Deutsch (SRC - Stockholm University), Carl Folke (The Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics), Therese Lindahl (The Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics), Néstor Mazzeo (CURE - UdelaR, SARAS Institute), Matías Piaggio (EfD - CATIE), Marten Scheffer (Wageningen University).

Local organizing team:
Paula Bianchi (SARAS Institute) Ana Dubra (SARAS Institute), Mariana Meerhoff (CURE - UdelaR, SARAS Institute), Fernanda Milans (IEcon - UdelaR).

The problem

Natural resources and ecosystems are under increasing pressure as human demands for food, water, fiber, and energy expand at an accelerating pace. In response, the allocation of resources and, in particular, land use, has shifted along with agricultural production systems. These changes can lead to profound changes in the functioning of ecosystems, as well as the services they provide. The full impact of these changes, and the speed at which they occur, is difficult or even impossible to predict given the complexity of these processes, including nonlinearities and tipping points.

A significant amount of work has been done documenting changes in the use of resources, most notably land, and the observed impacts. Salient among these are the studies on the Amazon deforestation, which has social and environmental impacts at multiple spatial and temporal scales.


The focus is on land-use and the links between global drivers, decision makers, and local ecosystem changes. These changes, however, do not occur out of nowhere. Many of them are the result of the deliberate action of people, reacting to market, social, or institutional stimuli. In Latin America, we still know little about the decision making process of resource allocation in social-ecological systems. Strengthening our analysis and understanding of this important process is a necessary step to be able to harness and direct appropriate drivers (from different scales) to improve the state of the systems. Despite being interconnected issues, the work by economists and natural scientists has been usually done in parallel, missing the complementation that could result from collaborative multidisciplinary approaches. Understanding social-ecological systems require the combined efforts of many disciplines. A goal of the proposed workshop is to bring together scientists working on different aspects of this problem to exchange views, knowledge, and explore the creation or strengthening of networks that can more effectively advance our understanding of problems and their management leading to sustainable development.

General objective

Identify the gap between the analysis of global drivers and their impacts on land-use decisions and ecosystem services.

Specific objectives

1. To bring together scientists from different disciplines and policy makers to reflect on different aspects of the analysis of impacts of global drivers on land-use decisions and ecosystem services, contributing to move the knowledge frontier and to redesign policies for the sustainable management of natural resources.
2. To foster collaborations and networking by regional and international researchers on the analysis of global drivers and land-use decisions and ecosystem services in Latin America.

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Public lectures included the following presentations:

Salvador Schelotto
Un ejemplo de análisis integrado en perspectiva territorial/ambiental

Elena Irwin
(Ohio State University, USA)
Integrated Models (Environment and Economy)

Gervasio Piñeiro
(UBA, Argentina)
Agroecología vs intensificación ecológica: paradigmas de la nueva producción agropecuaria

Ariane De Bremond
(University of Maryland, USA and Global Land Project)
Telecoupling in land systems: Understanding local to global implications for land change and the governance land systems.

Catherine L.Kling
(Iowa State University, USA)
Policy Making and Academic Cooperation for Sustainable Development.

Manfred Steffen
(Fundación Konrad Adenauer)
Policy making and academia cooperation for sustainable development.


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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