On top of being a scientific conference, PECS-II showcased Oaxcan and Mexican art, such as traditional dancing, pictured here at the closing party. Photo: MAEstudios

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CONFERENCE

An overview: The Second Conference of the Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS)

The PECS-II conference showcased place-based research and how it can help us work towards global sustainability in the Anthropocene

Story highlights

  • The second PECS conference took place from 7-10 November 2017 in Oaxaca, Mexico
  • Over 300 participants joined PECS-II for short and long talks, as well as workshops and immersive sessions
  • Conference themes included: place-based research for global sustainability, stewardship with local institutions and governance, as well as Anthropocene opportunities

Future Earth’s Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS) is international and comparative. Sharing information and research in PECS is mainly virtual task, but every once and a while, meeting face to face allows for important interactions. That’s why every couple of years PECS meets – to share knowledge, but also create and build connections.

From November 7-10 2017, PECS hosted its second conference in Oaxaca, Mexico, known as PECS-II, as a way to bring together scholars working within the programme, and others independent of PECS working with place-based sustainability research. As a programme, PECS highlights place-based research that can help inform our actions as we work towards global sustainability.

Different key themes were highlighted for the conference. To get everyone in the same line of thinking, keynote speakers started Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday morning with presentations focused around one of the key themes.

The first day kicked off with presentations from Sandra Diaz (Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina) and SRC’s Victor Galaz, which focused on the role of place-based research for global sustainability. Speakers Fikret Berkes (University of Manitoba) and Xiaver Basutro (Duke University) gave presentations that touched on Thursday’s theme of stewardship with local institutions and governance, as well as co-producing knowledge and scaling up. Friday’s more forward looking theme focused on opportunities available to us in the Anthropocene, with presentations from Juliana Mercon (Universidad Veracruzana) and Elena Bennett (McGill University).

PECS has witnessed an amazing growth over the past eight years, through the coordination and nurturing of social-ecological place-based research from around the world. We’re just so grateful and happy to have been able to bring so many participants together in Oaxaca, which is a social and ecological diversity hotspot in itself

Albert Norström, PECS director

Emerging new ideas

While the conference programme focused on key themes, sessions at PECS revealed a number of topics that require more attention and research in the coming years.

Scaling up, which is applying what is learned at the local level to regional, national, or global scales, was a reoccurring theme throughout the conference. Many scholars reflected on the purpose of scaling up, and what it means to scale up. One session on this topic that also received a lot of attention, was “Marine systems in the Anthropocene,” hosted by SRC’s Magnus Nyström. A lively debate was sparked by a presentation from SRC PhD candidate Jean-Baptiste Jouffray on the keystone dialogue around whether negotiating with the world’s largest seafood companies will evoke change.

In moving the research agenda forward, another key theme also emerged: coproduction of knowledge. Many of the sessions touched on the coproduction of knowledge, and incorporating local perspectives into the research process. Notably, SRC’s Maria Tengö and colleagues’ Multiple Evidence Based approach was highlighted a number of times, including in many of the keynote speakers’ presentations.

Connecting Oaxaca to the globe

For a small conference, PECS II was able to connect far beyond its own place base, a venue in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Field trips were offered to conference participants, as a way to understand the social-ecological landscape, surrounding the conference venue. Conference participants had the opportunity to visit a number of different places, such as the ancient Zapotec city of Monte Alban, or small towns on the outskirts of Oaxaca, viewing traditional art and handicrafts along the way.

PECS-II also showcased a number of different styles of Oaxacan and Mexican art, such as handicrafts, music, and traditional dancing.

For those not present in Oaxaca, PECS II made sure to be present online. Keynote speaker presentations and other material is available on the PECS II website. Discussions about the confernece on Twitter can be found under the hashtag #PECSii.

Conference participants Alta de Vos (Rhodes University, South Africa), Juan Emilio Sala (CONICET, Argentina), SRC's Katja Malmborg and Vivieca Mellegård, as well as Maraja Riechers (Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany) helped capture different sessions by volunteering their time to write blog posts.

At the end of the conference, PECS director Albert Norström reflected on how far the programme has come: “PECS has witnessed an amazing growth over the past eight years, through the coordination and nurturing of social-ecological place-based research from around the world. We’re just so grateful and happy to have been able to bring so many participants together in Oaxaca, which is a social and ecological diversity hotspot in itself.”