9 talks in 90 minutes? That is a challenge for everyone.
I am usually a bit skeptical of speed talk sessions - if they are a plain run through a myriad of topics my brain shuts off eventually. The session chair needs to have a firm grip on the organization – and the presenters need to be well-prepared and punctual. If speed talks sessions are done well, however, they can be a rich cocktail of ideas and inspiration. Luckily, the session “Integrating the social and the ecological: scenarios, planning and management” was a wonderful cocktail of a whole mixture of flavors and topics.
A 4-minute talk does not sound like much, but even such a short amount of time can have a surprising depth:
We went from India and the issue of food security from people being resettled after a protected area was established (Amrita Neelakantan, Columbia University); to Romania and the topic of scaling up, out or beyond local knowledge (David Lam, Leuphana University); to Germany and the influencing issues on the tolerance regarding the new predator ‘Wolf’ (Ugo Arbieu, SBiK-F); and staying Germany we heard about the unknown implications of teleconnections of Tomato consumption (Maria Jose Ibarrola Rivas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México).
We went to South Africa, and heard about scenario planning exercises with small scale fishers (Louise Gammage, University of Cape Town) and heard about the need for a shift of management from IN protected areas to OF protected areas (Janis Smith, CSIR).
We thought at a broader scale looking at ecosystem trade-off and the complexity concerning influencers and beneficiaries vs. non-influencers and impact bearers (Francis Turkelboom, Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO), Belgium). We listened to a passionate speech on why random learners and experimentation in learning are necessary (Jacopo Baggio, Utah State University).
Lastly, we learned about a meta–analysis of case studies to find indicators for effective pathways to social-ecological resilience (Zuzana Harmackova, Stockholm Resilience Centre). A shout-out here to the session organizer Zuzana Harmackova – who did not only did a good job in keeping the bunch of presenters organized, but also presented herself (speaking of positionality).
Picture 1: David Lam, Leverage Points for Sustainability Transformation, Leuphana University
That is quite a range of topics, right? And I didn’t even start talking about the concepts or methods used! I had to be careful that this strong cocktail of themes did not make my head spin too much.
But like any good cocktail, it was wonderful.
As a result of to the good organization, we had enough time to engage in fascinating discussions. Interestingly, the discussion was influenced by the great plenary session that morning, especially by Xavier Basurto’s talk (Nicholas School, Duke University). The topic of up-scaling seemed to have a ripple effect, and was on many minds during the session.
What I, in the storm of information, took from it was that: 1) there is a need to be more precise of what we talk about, when we talk about scaling; 2) local in-depth, place-based research is highly necessary; 3) research can be connected to the e.g. national and global level; and 4) synthesizing and comparative studies are very helpful.
Picture 2: Split group discussions
Admittedly, I left the room feeling a bit tipsy, and I needed a cognitive rest (easily achieved by this amazing food here in Oaxaca!). After that, I went back to many of the presenters to get more information about their work. I advise you to do the same!
When not diving the days away to find the perfect undiscovered fish I am a PostDoctoral researcher in the project Leverage Points for Sustainability Transformation at the Leuphana University Lüneburg. Looking for deep levers for change I focus on how nature connectedness and landscape changes influence each other based on the examples of my home turf Germany and beautiful Transylvania. Through my interdisciplinary social science background my work is strongly based in the life experiences of the inhabitants of those changing landscapes.
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II CONFERENCE OF THE PROGRAMME ON ECOSYSTEM CHANGE AND SOCIETY