Colding is currently employed as one of the leaders for the theme urban social-ecological systems, and is also an affiliated associate professor at the Beijer Institute (KVA).
Colding's main interests cover urban planning and design from a resilience perspective. He is currently involved in the development of the new research frontier known as social-ecological urbanism, where interlinking of urban services and ecosystem services is a key mission, and where institutions (norms and rules) and the city's built form are regarded as key tools to build resilience.
Colding also works a senior researcher within Live Baltic Campus (LBC), a new research project aimed at developing campuses as innovation hubs by creating better urban environments for businesses and residents. It brings together city planners, government representatives, campus developers, and stakeholders to utilise university campuses as laboratories for achieving sustainable development in the central Baltic region. The project aims to create a network of practitioners that will enhance knowledge transfer in the region and create a working method for participative urban planning.
Colding holds a PhD in Natural Resource Management from the Department of Systems Ecology at Stockholm University. He also has a background as a cultural scientist. He served as a research coordinator in the Swedish sub-global Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) that focused on the greater Stockholm region.
In 2003, he co-edited a book titled Navigating Social-Ecological Systems: Building Resilience for Complexity and Change, which explores governance questions for social-ecological systems informed by complexity and resilience theories. He has been on the editorial board of ECOSYSTEMS, Nature & Society, and Landscape and Urban Planning. He is especially interested in research related to ‘social-ecological’ designs that better account for ecosystem processes and a wider participation of stakeholders in urban systems. Within the SRC, he is leading Stockholm urban research that sets out to merge recent streams in ecology and urban spatial planning.
Colding has conducted a series of development projects with public actors in society, resulting in both scientific publications and more policy-orientated outcomes. Among others this includes collaborative work with the Stockholm County Council and Office of Regional Planning, The Swedish Golf Association, and the Stockholm University. His ambition is to deepen and consolidate this collaboration within an academically stronger urban network that will cooperate with EAT, GRAID and the Future Earth research initiative.
Colding also is a:
Awards and achievements:
Research news | 2019-05-13
Balancing urban development and residents’ experience of their city is a difficult act. New study presents method for understanding how city dwellers use their cityscape
Research news | 2018-10-18
Popular concept for building sustainable cities stands on fragile scientific grounds
Research news | 2017-12-29
Why university campuses play a pivotal role in promoting sustainable development
Research news | 2016-11-22
Centre researchers Johan Colding and Åsa Gren receive 1,5 million SEK from Stockholm County Council
2019 - Journal / article
This paper explores the 20-year evolution of the social-ecological systems framework (SESs). Although a first definition of SES dates back to 1988, Berkes and Folke more thoroughly used the concept in 1998 to analyze resilience in local resource management systems. Since then studies of interlinked human and natural systems have emerged as a field on its own right, promoting interdisciplinary dialogue and collaboration in a wi...
2019 - Journal / article
An unresolved issue in creating resilient cities is how to obtain sustainability benefits from densification while not eroding the capacity of social-ecological systems to generate wellbeing for urban dwellers. To understand how different relationships between urban form and wellbeing together play out, we analysed geocoded experiential data (1460 experiences from 780 respondents) together with variables of the physical enviro...
2018 - Journal / article
Smart growth (SG) is widely adopted by planners and policy makers as an environmentally friendly way of building cities. In this paper, we analyze the environmental validity of the SG-approach based on a review of the scientific literature. We found a lack of proof of environmental gains, in combination with a great inconsistency in the measurements of different SG attributes. We found that a surprisingly limited number of st...
2017 - Journal / article
In this paper, we explore the potential for integrating university campuses in a global sustainability agenda for a closer reconnection of urban residents to the biosphere. This calls for a socio-cultural transition that allows universities and colleges to reconnect to the biosphere and become active stewards of the Earth System. Recognizing their pivotal role of fostering coming generations of humans, university campuses repr...