De-construct to re-construct

At Umbela we consider that the hierarchical structure of today's hegemonic system does not comprehensively address the critical problems of the world and does not recognize biological and social diversity (classes, gender, cultures, ethnicities), or the value of resistance and regeneration movements seeking to protect such diversity. In addition, we recognize that the processes of colonization, extractivism, racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination and oppression have generated very deep historical inequity. The consequences of this inequity marginalize and disadvantage voices of groups that have been denied the same power as dominant groups (e.g., those associated with visions of the West, Anglo-Saxons, the Global North, and/or sexists). Throughout history, many narratives and ideas have been extracted from their local contexts to depoliticize and make them marketable, while marginalized voices have been silenced in the construction of widsom and knowledge, both in scientific fields and in governance systems.

Therefore, at Umbela we recognize the need to shape deeper processes of change towards fairer and more sustainable societies. These types of changes are called transformations, and seek to generate root changes in paradigms, values, behaviors, practices, or norms. Transformations towards sustainability require transgressing the dominant structures and narratives that maintain poverty, inequality, and socio-ecological degradation, and thus it is necessary to explicitly make visible and challenge what is normalized (such as colonial practices, extractivism, over-consumption, or socio-environmental injustice). For Umbela it is essential to create spaces of dialogue between the South and the Global North, spaces in which it is explicitly recognized that the production and exchange of knowledge and practices are necessary from all possible corners and trenches, always respecting and recognizing their origins, their particular contexts, their authors, and their struggle.

Based on our notions and values, Umbela follows four main approaches in our work (click on each approach to see its description):

Umbela has two general areas of work that promote transdisciplinary processes for sustainability.

Collaborative governance

Processes of transformation towards sustainability require the involvement of different sectors of society and strengthening the links between them. Based on Umbela's approaches, we seek to facilitate processes and spaces of collaboration based on our experience designing participatory tools that strengthen skills in decision makers as agents of change.

Socio-environmental synthesis

The problems facing society and the environment have a complexity that must be understood both from science and societal perspectives, incorporating all kinds of scientific and traditional knowledge that are valid and reliable for decision-making and public debate. Umbela's founders, collaborators, and allies put science into action based on the plurality of disciplines from each of our trenches.