Registration Open: “Envisioning a Sustainable Tropics”, the 2015 Conference of the @UF Center for Latin American Studies

64th Center for Latin American Studies Annual Conference
Organized by The Tropical Conservation and Development Program

Envisioning a Sustainable Tropics

March 25 – 28, 2015
University of Florida

Registration to the 2015 LAS & TCD Conference

Call for Poster and Video abstract submission 

In spring 2015, the graduate students of UF’s  Tropical Conservation and Development Program will be hosting the Center for Latin American Studies‘ 64th Annual Conference and the prestigious Bacardi Lecture Series entitled “Envisioning a Sustainable Tropics.” The annual conference will begin with an evening reception on the 25th, and two days of sessions (26-27 March). On March 28th, participants will head out of Gainesville for an optional field trip.

These events are designed to stimulate a dynamic interchange regarding alternatives and solutions to deal with the complexity of sustainability and environmental and human well-being. The Conference goal is intended to engage the TCD community, academics, government representatives, and practitioners from varied perspectives to envision what the developed tropics may look like in the next decades.

Click here to access the Conference preliminary agenda.  

Discussion and presentations by speakers, scholars, and participants will be guided by three overarching questions:

  • How to sustain ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation in the context of a growing population and food demand?

Agricultural conversion remains the principal driver of deforestation throughout the tropics. A diverse array of strategies have been developed, promoted and practiced to address this problem, ranging from sustainable intensification to networks of protected areas to biodiversity-friendly agriculture. While there has been lively debate on the efficacy of some of these strategies (i.e., land-sparing vs. land-sharing), conserving biodiversity and other ecosystem services will likely depend on implementing a combination of approaches. This panel will provide an opportunity to discuss and explore various pathways towards a sustainable integration of biodiversity conservation and food sovereignty, with an emphasis on the influence of the political and economic contexts in which this problem exists.

  • How to reconcile energy and resource extraction with human and environmental health?

Latin America is home to the world’s largest tropical forest, immense biodiversity spanning multiple biomes, but also many rapidly growing economies. Balancing societal energy and resource needs with the preservation of biodiversity and the maintenance of ecosystem services has led to a wide array of socio-environmental conflicts which have proven challenging for many Latin American states. The future promises even greater challenges as competing interests rely upon the environmental resources of tropical biomes to produce timber, an ever increasing array of bio-fuel crops, and accommodate construction of hydroelectric dams as well as mineral and oil extraction. Resource extraction and energy industries have directly and indirectly driven environmental degradation, which has posed significant threats to human well-being and biodiversity. This brings us to ask, how do we reconcile human energy needs and resource extraction with human well-being and environmental conservation?

  • How to strengthen capacity for adaptive governance at multiple scales?

Adaptive governance structures are a critical component of sustainable livelihoods, bio-cultural diversity and natural resource conservation. This session will aim to provide a platform to examine diverse approaches to reducing inequitable resource distribution and accessibility that simultaneously amplify voices, foster knowledge exchange, create partnerships, expand networks and build alliances at local, regional and international scales. These strategies for strengthening capacity empower individuals, communities and institutions to challenge existing socio-ecological paradigms and realize their own visions of a sustainable tropics.

Conference Co-Sponsors:

Bacardi Family Eminent Scholar Endowment
Florida Climate Institute
UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
UF International Center
UF Office of Research
U.S. Department of Education National Resource Center Program


Photo of Morpho peleides by Armando Maynez.

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