Science director

+46 8 673 95 00



Staff profile

Professor Carl Folke is science director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre and the director of the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, one of the collaborating partners of the Stockholm Resilience Centre

Profile summary

  • Carl has extensive experience in transdisciplinary collaboration between natural and social scientists
  • He is among the founders of the Resilience Alliance and serves on the Executive Committee
  • His research has been widely reported in Swedish and international media

Carl is currently on leave from his Chair in Natural Resource Management at the Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University, a position he held since 1997 where he is still active as supervisor.

He served as Deputy Director of the Beijer Institute 1991-1996 and Director of Stockholm University's Center for Transdisciplinary Environmental Research (CTM) 1999-2006. He is among the founders of the Resilience Alliance and serves on the Executive Committee. He has been involved in the development of the International Society for Ecological Economics (ISEE) and was engaged in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.

Carl has extensive experience in transdisciplinary collaboration between natural and social scientists, and has worked with ecosystem dynamics and services as well as the social and economic dimension of ecosystem management and proactive measures to manage resilience.

The work of his research group in Stockholm emphasizes the role that living systems at different scales play in social and economic development and how to govern and manage for resilience in integrated social-ecological systems. In 1995 he received the Pew Scholar Award in Conservation and the Environment and in 2004 the Sustainability Science Award of the Ecological Society of America.

He has co-authored and edited 10 and written over 200 scientific papers, including 15 in Science and Nature. Carl shares the position as Editor in Chief of Ecology and Society with Lance Gunderson, since January 2002 and serves on the editorial board of fifteen international journals.

Carl is elected member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences since 2002 and serves on its Environmental Research Committee. He is currently on the Board of the Stockholm Environment Institute, the Scientific Advisory Board of the South American Institute for Resilience and Sustainability Studies (SARAS), Scientific Advisory Board of the STEPS Centre, UK, the Steering Committee of the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, Leeds University/London School of Economics, the Scientific Committee of the Program on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS), ICSU and of the Volvo Environment Prize.

He serves as Associate Faculty of the Earth System Governance Project, and on the Advisory Board to the research group Innovation in Governance, Centre for Technology & Society (ZTG), Technische Universität Berlin, and to the International Network of Research on Coupled Human and Natural Systems (CHANS-Net).

He has among other things served as Secretary of ISEE for about 5 years, as adviser to the Swedish Government and collaborated with several UN organizations on issues like biodiversity, ecosystem services, freshwater management, and sustainable cities.

He has also served on the Scientific Advisory Board of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), Santa Barbara, California, the Scientific Committee of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP) and boards and committees of research councils and various organizations in Sweden.

Carl has organized several major international conferences and workshops; he is in charge of the Stockholm Seminar: Frontiers in Sustainability Science and Policy; he has given numerous invited speaker presentations world wide; numerous public lectures, policy seminars and interviews in media. His research has been widely reported in Swedish and international media.

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Publications by Folke, Carl

Co-management in Latin American small-scale shellfisheries: Assessment from long-term case studies

Defeo, O., M. Castrejón, R. Pérez-Castañeda, J.-C. Castilla, N.L. Gutiérrez, T. Essington, C. Folke

2015 - Journal / article

Co-management (Co-M), defined as the sharing of management tasks and responsibilities between governments and local users, is emerging as a powerful institutional arrangement to redress fisheries paradigm failures, yet long-term assessments of its performance are lacking. A comparative analysis of five small-scale Latin American shellfisheries was conducted to identify factors suggesting success and failure. In Chile, Uruguay and Mexico Co-M produced positive effects, including stabilization of landings at low levels, increase in abundance, CPUE, unit prices and revenues per unit of effort, and reduced interannual variability in several fishery indicators, particularly in landings. Co-M was successful because it was mainly bottom-up implemented and accompanied by-catch shares (spatial property rights and community quotas). By contrast, Co-M implementation was unable to prevent the collapse of the Galapagos sea cucumber fishery, as reflected by a decrease in abundance and CPUE. Negative effects were also observed in the Galapagos spiny lobster fishery during Co-M implementation. However, recovery was observed in recent years, reflected in a stabilization of fishing effort and the highest CPUE and economic revenues observed since the beginning of the Co-M implementation phase. The combined effects of market forces, climate variability and a moratorium on fishing effort were critical in fishery recovery. We conclude that Co-M is not a blueprint that can be applied to all shellfisheries to enhance their governability. These social–ecological systems need to be managed by jointly addressing problems related to the resources, their marine environment and the people targeting them, accounting for their socioeconomic and cultural contexts.

Masked, diluted and drowned out: How global seafood trade weakens signals from marine ecosystems

Crona, B.I., T.M. Daw, W. Swartz, A.V. Norström, M. Nyström, M. Thyresson, C. Folke, J. Hentati-Sundberg, H. Österblom, L. Deutsch, M. Troell

2015 - Journal / article

Nearly 40% of seafood is traded internationally and an even bigger proportion is affected by international trade, yet scholarship on marine fisheries has focused on global trends in stocks and catches, or on dynamics of individual fisheries, with limited attention to the link between individual fisheries, global trade and distant consumers. This paper examines the usefulness of fish price as a feedback signal to consumers about the state of fisheries and marine ecosystems. We suggest that the current nature of fisheries systems and global markets prevent transmission of such price signals from source fisheries to consumers. We propose several mechanisms that combine to weaken price signals, and present one example – the North Sea cod – to show how these mechanisms can be tested. The lack of a reliable price feedback to consumers represents a challenge for sustainable fisheries governance. We therefore propose three complimentary approaches to address the missing feedback: (i) strengthening information flow through improved traceability and visibility of individual fishers to consumers, (ii) capitalizing on the changing seafood trade structures and (iii) bypassing and complementing market mechanisms by directly targeting citizens and political actors regarding marine environmental issues through publicity and information campaigns. These strategies each have limitations and thus need to be pursued together to address the challenge of sustainability in global marine fisheries.

Folke, Carl

Stockholm Resilience Centre is a collaboration between Stockholm University and the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

Stockholm Resilience Centre
Stockholm University, Kräftriket 2B
Phone: +46 8 674 70 70

Organisation number: 202100-3062
VAT No: SE202100306201