Reflections from the Wednesday morning session “Local and global drivers of transformation towards sustainability in Latin America: cases from place-based research on social-ecological systems"
How to catapult social-ecological transformation towards real sustainability in Latin America?
With this provocative question, the session chaired by Bruno Locatelli (CIRAD, University of Montpellier, France) and Paula Juaraez (Universidad Nacional de Quilmes, Instituto de Estudios sobre la Ciencia y la Tecnología, Argentina) began. The session held only two talks and a World Café, a methodology designed to efficiently harvest a group’s collective intelligence. The session gave lots of interactions, both human and conceptual, and gave rise to an in-depth debate in the morning rounds at PECSii.
In the first of two talks, Dr. Victoria Ramenzoni from Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi, United States shared an excellent summary of her research carried out with Dr. Mark Besonen, also at Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi, United States. She told us about the challenges of working with a geographical space overlapping with several jurisdictions, such as the Gulf of Mexico.
Based on her case study Dr. Ramenzoni was able to show, that socio-ecological transformation is a social process, and that sustainability means different responses for different peoples. Thus, demolishing, in my opinion, a supposed universalist and single-minded character that is often sought to attribute to that concept. In this sense, the authors showed a real concern about how to push forward, preserving a (political) pluralism, both in visions and ways of doing. Towards the end of the talk, Dr. Ramenzoni offered us a possible open-answer to the initial question: we need to bet on the empowerment of peoples, using all possible tools.
The enriching morning space gave way to the talk of Dr. María José Ibarrola-Rivas and Dr. Rebeca Granados-Ramírez (both at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City). María shared an innovative methodology aiming to evaluate sustainability of the food production system in Mexico, through the relationship between different dietary habits and changes in land use. They constructed a mathematically simple, but powerful indicator (m2 of land used/per capita/per year), and managed to evaluate the enormous differences between the diets of the richest versus poorest of the Mexican population, tied to two differential production systems (rainfed vs. irrigated).
As expected, the richest people consume 2.4 times more animal protein than the poorest sector of society. Beyond the direct implications that this inequity entails, the authors managed to demonstrate that to produce the diet of the richest, between 1.6 and 1.8 times more land is required (this is related to the fact that to produce 1 calorie of animal protein requires up to 20-30% more energy than its vegetal counterpart).
The session concluded with an in-depth debate based on key questions discussed in groups. There was a cordial discussion about aspects that complicate the full development of social-ecological transformation processes that contribute to achieving long-desired sustainability. Throughout the discussions, the notion that we were talking about ethics was inter-subjectively emerging.
We all left happy. With a feeling of hope, based on our daily practices and on our different but intertwined paths. Transformation is possible.
"Peace is not the absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition to benevolence, trust and justice." Baruch Spinoza.
Researcher of the CONICET (National Council of Scientific and Technical Research from Argentina). Research on Marine Socio-Ecological Systems and Political Ecology. I study the pelagic ecology of diverse marine top predators, and their environment, in order to get to know the various pieces of the big puzzle representing the Patagonian marine socio-ecosystems. I am particularly focused on generate applied knowledge to the management and conservation of these complex scenarios. I am also dedicated to investigate the epistemological procedures and academic practices, seeking to generate spaces for the transdiscipline, towards the so longed social-ecological sustainability. I believe in the Aristotelian eudaimonia as a political-humanitarian objective. That is the force-idea that motivates my militant and academic work.
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II CONFERENCE OF THE PROGRAMME ON ECOSYSTEM CHANGE AND SOCIETY