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Ruta 10 km 86, Parada 21 al fondo Bella Vista, Maldonado - Uruguay Email: Website:


Institute & Foundation

The SARAS² Institute is a joint initiative of Wageningen University (Netherlands), the University of Uruguay Republic (UdelaR, Uruguay), the Resilience Alliance, the Education and Culture Ministry of Uruguay (Uruguay), and the Maldonado Department(Uruguay).

Through the advisory board the Institute has strong linkages with: the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics (Sweden), the Stockholm Resilience Center (Sweden), the University of Wisconsin (USA), Arizona State University (USA), the University of Waterloo (Canada), the Catholic University of Chile (CASEB, Chile), the Patagonic National Center CONICET (Argentina), the University of Brasilia (Brazil), and the Doñana Biological Station-CSIC (Spain).

SARAS² Institute original idea emerged

Gregory Randall and Omar Macadar

in Holland, a summer day of 2005.

to engage into a collaborative process

At that time, the Institute’s goals and

from the very beginning.

preliminary structure were conceived and discussed by Marten Scheffer and

During 2008 and 2009 the Institute

Néstor Mazzeo.

entered into academic life through the writing of scientific papers

In January 2006 the first document

and research projects, which

about mission, goals and structure

were submitted to national and

of the Institute was written with the

international funding agencies. Some

aid of Ruben Budelli. At this time, a

approved projects enabled the

meeting with Oscar de los Santos

institute to put in place a Conference

– Major of Maldonado – helped to

Cycle on relevant environmental

explore the feasibility of establishing

topics for Latin America, held on a

the Institute at Maldonado County.

yearly basis. This set of conferences

The proposal was very well received

started in 2010 and have continued

by local authorities and immediately

since then: the first symposium in

a group was conformed (Jorge

2010 was on Sustainable Futures for

Hourcade, Ruben Budelli, Gabriel

Hydric Resources in Latin America.

Aintablian, Hugo Fort and Néstor Mazzeo) to find the most appropriate

In 2009 SARAS² received a substantial

place to locate SARAS².

financial support from the UdelaR, the Ministry of Education and Culture

Since the summer of 2007, the SARAS²

and, in 2011 also from the Maldonado

Advisory Board has been meeting in

Department. These contributions have

Uruguay on a regular basis, to discuss

been fundamental, and allowed to

the strategy, agenda, goals and

incorporate two members to the local

actions. Simultaneously, the working

team: Mariana Meerhoff and Nicolás

team (Ruben Budelli, Hugo Fort,


Gabriel Aintablian and Néstor Mazzeo) contacted local authorities in the area

Since 2009 several advances have

of Science, Culture and Education:

been made to consolidate the

María Simón, Rodrigo Arocena,

Institute facilities building process and



the landscaping in the surrounding

The Executive Committee is integrated

area, as part of a joint effort with the

by: Marten Scheffer, Osvaldo Sala,

Architectural General Directorate

Isabel Bortagaray, Ana Dubra, Néstor

of UdelaR (Alvaro Cayón, Gonzalo

Mazzeo, Mariana Meerhoff, Cecilia

Lorenzo, Mariana Frances & Pedro

Delgado, William Rodríguez, Mariella

Berger) and the contribution of Amalia

Busnadiego and Andrés Richero.

Robledo, María Puppo and Carla Bruzzone on the landscape design.

The Administrative Board of the SARAS² Foundation involves: Néstor

As of July 2013, SARAS² turned into a

Mazzeo (UdelaR representative), Omar

Foundation, a milestone in the history

Defeo (UdelaR representative), Osvaldo

of the Institute. Currently, the financial

Sala (Advisory Board representative),

support mainly originates from the

Mariana Meerhoff (Advisory Board

Ministry of Education and Culture

representative), Ricardo Pereira

of Uruguay, the UdelaR and the

(Maldonado representative), Virginia

Maldonado Department.

Fernández (MEC representative) and Matías Arim (Scientific members

The advisory board is integrated by:


Marten Scheffer, Jordi Bascompte, Laurie Beth Clark, Steve Carpenter,

Finally, the Fiscal Board of the SARAS²

Omar Defeo, Carl Folke, Pablo

Foundation involves: Lujan Criado

Marquet, Osvaldo Sala, Ana Parma,

(UdelaR representative), Gustavo

Eduardo Viola, and Frances Westley.

Morales (Udelar representative) and Julio Riella (Maldonado government representative).

Scientific activities For the last four years there has been a round of four symposia.

2010 2011 2012 2013

Continental aquatic resources Artisanal fisheries Transitions in terrestrial ecosystems Education for uncertainty

In the context of a series of thematic years triggered by the UdelaR (Espacio Interdisciplinario Program), the thematic year 2013 was connected to SARAS² and was about the emerging properties of the interactions between social and ecological systems.


Networks SARAS can be considered a net of networks. The networks are organized about specific topics independently of the disciplinary background of the researchers.

Early warning signals

Current and future climate

Adaptive management of the

variability and the relationship with

Laguna del Sauce (Maldonado-

the Uruguayan productive sectors

Uruguay) basin

This network is aimed at developing

This network is oriented to analyze

methods and frameworks to identify

the current and future scenario of

The goal of this network is to

early warning signals that could

climate variability and the relationship

develop and promote a set of

anticipate radical changes or critical

with the key productive sectors of

adaptive strategies that enable the



sustainability of the critical ecosystem services for the human wellbeing.

Scientific papers 2009



Early-warning signals for critical

Environmental warming in shallow

Biomanipulation as a restoration


lakes: a review of potential

tool to combat eutrophication:

Nature 416(3)53-59.

changes in community structure

recent advances and future

as evidenced from space-for-time


Marten Scheffer, Jordi Bascompte, William A.

substitution approaches.

Advances in Ecological Research

Brock, Victor Brovkin, Stephen R. Carpenter,

Advances in Ecological Research

47: 411-488.

Vasilis Dakos, Hermann Held, Egbert H. van

46: 259-349.

Nes, Max Rietkerk & George Sugihara.

Erik Jeppesen, Martin Søndergaard, Mariana Meerhoff, Franco Teixeira-de Mello,

Torben L. Lauridsen, Thomas A. Davidson,


Carla Kruk, Cecilia Alonso, Iván González-

Zhengwen Liu, Néstor Mazzeo, Carolina

Anticipating Critical Transitions.

Bergonzoni, Juan Pablo Pacheco, Gissell

Trochine, Korhan Özkan, Henning S. Jensen,

Science 338: 344:348.

Lacerot, Matías Arim, Meryem Beklioğlu,

Dennis Trolle, Fernando Starling, Xavier

Sandra Brucet, Guillermo Goyenola, Carlos

Lazzaro, Liselotte S. Johansson, Rikke

Marten Scheffer, Stephen R.

Iglesias, Néstor Mazzeo, Sarian Kosten &

Bjerring, Lone Liboriussen, Søren E. Larsen,

Carpenter,Timothy M. Lenton, Jordi

Erik Jeppesen.

Frank Landkildehus, Sara Egemose, &

Bascompte, William Brock, Vasilis Dakos,

Mariana Meerhoff.

Johan van de Koppel, Ingrid A. van de Leemput, Simon A. Levin, Egbert H. van Nes, Mercedes Pascual & John Vandermeer.



Training programs and postgraduate Postgraduate courses Water-city. Postgraduate course about

Technology Transfer Center Climate Change and Decision Making, UNESCO-AVINA

urban planning and conservation of crucial aquatic ecosystem services.

In October 2013, the Climate Change

2012-2014. Coordinate by Arq.

and Decision Making Regional Center

Adriana Piperno and Dr. Néstor

was launched. The center was created


by UNESCO, the AVINA Foundation and a network of universities and

Synthetic networks. The integrated

institutions of the South America

management of the basin through

countries. Its main objective is to

synthetic fluvial networks. 2013. Prof.

integrate the complexity, risks and

Dr. Jose Barquín, Cantabria University,

opportunities of climate change in

Spain. The course is oriented to

the decision-making processes of

analyze the current state of the art

public and private sectors in the

in terms of management, planning,

region. In this context, it will promote

conservation and restoration of fluvial

opportunities for exchange and


discussion among leaders from

PhD thesis

various sectors who will share their experience, making the link with international leaders at the highest

Rafael Bernardi. 2012-2015.

level of the scientific, political and

Grassland-forest transitions in

entrepreneur and exchange learning

subtropical South America. Supervised

experiences in order to integrate

by: Dr. Milena Holmgren, Dr. Marten

climate change challenges in the

Scheffer and Dr. Matías Arim.

daily management of their strategies


and institutions. SARAS² was actively involved in the launching of the center.

Carolina Crisci. 2012-2013. Implications of climatic variability on water quality of Laguna del Sauce. Supervised by: Dr. Rafael Terra & Dr. Néstor Mazzeo.


Outreach The SARAS² Institute is frequently asked to participate in the study of relevant issues related to socioecological systems management, which is particularly conspicuous in Uruguay (at local and national levels). Some of the researches had been selected because they are representative of Institute’s main research topics.

In the last few years a comprehensive

Currently, members of the Institute

study of problems related to drinking

are working on Agriculture Adaptation

water supply, the management of

to Climatic Change (supported by

this resource and the land use took

MGAP-FAO) in conjunction with

place at Laguna del Sauce and the

scientists from CURE-UdelaR (Hugo

watershed associated. The main

Inda, Laura del Puerto, Carolina

results of this project were exposed

Crisci), the Engineering Faculty-UdelaR

last year and can be accessed in pdf in

(Rafael Terra), Meteorological National

the following link:

Division (Mario Bidegain) and the Humanities and Education SciencesUdelaR (Javier Taks). The main contribution can be download from:


Publications Mario Bidegain, Carolina Crisci, Laura

Néstor Mazzeo, Hugo Inda, Javier Taks,

del Puerto, Hugo Inda, Néstor Mazzeo,

Rafael Terra, Mario Bidegain,Carolina

Javier Taks & Rafael Terra. 2013.

Crisci and Isabel Bortagaray.

Variabilidad climática de importancia

2013. Capacidad de adaptación

para el sector productivo. In: Clima

y transformación en un clima de

de cambios, nuevos desafíos de

cambios. In: Clima de cambios, nuevos

adaptación en Uruguay, Walter

desafíos de adaptación en Uruguay,

Oyhantcabal, Diego Sancho and

Walter Oyhantcabal, Diego Sancho

Malvina Galván (eds.). Chapter 2: 43-

and Malvina Galvan (eds.). Chapter 6:

99, FAO 2013.

273-284, FAO 2013.



Future projects Bilateral Scientific Cooperation with Brazil

crucial ecosystem services for human well being (at regional and global scales). The evolution of the

The proposal is about developing a

human development needs and

Brazil-Uruguay working platform in

those of environmental systems is

the area of climate-land use changes

unpredictable. South America faces

and resilience, and the related

significant environmental and social

societal dynamics. The main goal is

constraints, which present great

to develop an area of academic and

challenges and potentially significant

policy-oriented research around the

opportunities as well

following three themes: Anticipating critical transitions in • Futures of South America:

socio-ecological systems

Scenario planning in climate-land use changes and sustainability

The early warning signals system

• Anticipating critical transitions in

is aimed at anticipating critical

socio-ecological systems

transitions that occasionally reshape

• The societal dynamics and

complex systems in nature. A close

governance of environmental

monitoring of early warning signals

research and policy

for such transitions is key, not only for advancing our understanding of the

Futures of South America: Scenario

dynamics of environmental change,

planning in climate-land use changes

but also for anticipating and designing

and sustainability

decisions that impact societies on a wide range of dimensions. These

This line of action-research proposes

dynamics have been mainly thought in

to analyze the alternative pathways

the context of ecosystems. However,

for South America and provide

it is necessary to take this reflection

research and policy insights to

further, and integrate the analysis

navigate the complex, uncertain

regarding the social systems in

present and futures through scenario

general. To meet both the challenges

thinking. South America faces many

and the opportunities will require a

crucial and critical social, political

new approach to problem solving.

and environmental challenges. The

In this world marked by surprise,

rising demands for food, water,

the only evidence of emergent

housing and development must be

patterns comes in the form of weak

balanced with the need to preserve

but persistent early warning signs.


Therefore, there is a need to build

enhances the capacity of ecosystems

• To design and monitoring system

decision-making capacity that includes

and the quality of human life. There

with key patterns in terms of

the ability to identify and respond to

is a need to find processes that

resilience to establish in the short

these emergent patterns. There is a

support whole system transformation.


need to harness the different types

These new processes must engage

• To asses the adaptation and

of human potential, skill and creativity

government, civil society, and the

transformation capacity of the

to collectively tip the interconnected

private sector to devise solutions to

cattle system in the specific region.

ecological, social, political and

complex and intractable problems.

economic systems towards greater sustainability and resilience. The societal dynamics and governance of environmental research and policy The world is rapidly changing, and complexity and uncertainty define a good part of the new problems that

Building resilience capacity in vulnerable agroecosystems to current and future climatic variability (Sierra del Este and Basalto-Uruguay). Ministry of Agriculture, Cattle and Fisheries of Uruguay. 2014.

Rural landscape planning and ecosystem services conservation SARAS² are working together with the Maldonado authorities, DINOT (National Division of Land Planning of Uruguay) and Laguna del Sauce Basin Committee about possible strategies of rural planning in order to

societies face in the economic, social, and environmental spheres. Research

The main idea is to identify a set of

preserve relevant ecosystem services

and policy are required to provide

key drivers that condition the cattle

(mainly drinking water supply). The

(anticipated) insights and solutions

vulnerability in some specific regions

main idea is to develop an adaptive

to the emerging problems, which

with high vulnerability to dry periods

management approach, probably the

are increasingly more complex and

(Sierras del Este and Basalto). The

first example in rural land planning of

crosscut by high doses of uncertainty.

drivers involve different types of


(sub)systems: climate (frequency The need to rely on new research

and drought intensity), social (land

solutions and policy interventions

property, associativity, etc.) and

calls for new methodological and

economic (credit access, among

analytical frameworks that account for

others). More in detail, the project

the complexity and interdisciplinarity


Regional center of river basin planning and water management Cantabria University (Spain), the International Hydrologic Program of

of the emerging problems. It is necessary to better understand the

• To define the set of indicators

United Nations and SARAS² started to

societal and environmental dynamics

in the functioning of the overall

develop a possible regional program

in a systemic way, and reflect on the

system that allows to trace

of knowledge exchanges between

types, modalities, and functioning of

the temporal evolution of the

universities and water authorities from

institutions and governance structures

resilience capabilities both at the

South American countries, Spain and

required to act and react in a way that

regional and farm levels.



Ruta 10 km 86, Parada 21 al fondo Bella Vista, Maldonado - Uruguay Email: Website:

SARAS Institute Annual Report 2013  

The SARAS² Institute is a joint initiative of Wageningen University (Netherlands), the University of Uruguay Republic (UdelaR, Uruguay), the...

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