Finally, the last day of sessions at PECSii arrived. Day after day, talk after talk, coffee break after coffee break. The level, density, and depth of the debates increased, while weaving, perhaps indissoluble, human ties.
Whithout detracting from the rest of the morning talks occuring in parallel, the session chaired by Dr. Magnus Nyström (Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden) resulted in the climax of PECSii, in my opinion.
The session began with a brilliant presentation by Dr. Nyström, in which he, with total statistical harshness, showed us how the world's oceans are falling victim to what he and his work group call the "Blue Acceleration". That is, a ruthless, and more than exponential increase in the anthropogenic pressures exerted on the oceans. He warned us about the relatively recent change in the expectations that the large productive forces (diverse industries) are pouring into the oceans and the tremendous impact this is generating.
Image 1: Blue acceleration graphs by M. Nyström et al. Photo: Albert Norström/Twitter
Following this talk was Dr. Albert Norström (Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Sweden), who gave the audience a vibrant and energetic talk about the need to understand the drivers of change that interact in marine systems, exploring the interplay between proximate and distant drivers.
Albert showed what he refers to as proximal drivers, and how science has managed to draw excellent systematized information from them. However, today is the time to better understand distal drivers, usually the most important agents of change. This was an implicit call to the entire community of researchers in marine and sustainability science - focus on distal drivers.
As the session advanced, the audience grew. With every minute, new tools to better understand the complexity of marine systems, and to influence in the search for sustainability, were presented.
Dr. Stefan Gelcich (Center for Marine Conservation, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile) began his presentation on the strategic importance of exploring new forms of collaborative governance to achieve sustainable marine stewardship. Through examples of his work with small-scale fishing communities, he managed to show the ability to modify legal structures of a country (Chile) through self-organization and collective work. Stefan succeeded in inspiring many researchers in the session. It appeared the best and most concrete way to positively impact the social-ecological systems in which we work, is through structural changes, such as a law or a normative strategy of governance.
The most interesting aspect of Stefan's presentation was that he was the only one at PECSii (at least as far as I know) who was able to show a successful example of scaling-down: making international recommendations or guidelines such as CBD, FAO, etc., applicable at national-level, and introducing them into normative frameworks. The central point: in both scaling-up and -down processes, the applied tool was place-based research.
The session ended with a (neo)magisterial presentation by, in my opinion, one of the most promising young researchers at the conference: Jean-Baptiste Jouffray (PhD student at the Stockholm Resilience Center, Stockholm University, Sweden).
Jean-Baptiste captivated us with both excellent rhetoric, worthy of a senior researcher, as well as the power of his work. He presented the latest advances from the Keystone Dialogues, established between business leaders of the largest fishing corporations in the world, and a group of scientists.
This type of approach unleashed an incredible and (to my delight) lively debate between Stefan Gelcich and the group of marine researchers from Stockholm Resilience Center. Stefan asked, rhetorically, a number of audience members: Does sitting down to negotiate with these big fisheries corporations give them even more power, given they are one of the most powerful sectors on planet earth (or more precisely, "planet water")?
I will let the readers of this blog draw their own conclusions. However, my opinion is that the answer to that question can not (and should not) be taken lightly. It is a matter of enormous complexity and comes with great responsibility.
Let's all consider what Albert Einstein is thought to have said: "If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got". Maybe that is one way to answer Stefan's question.
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