This focus area explores the knowledge systems, values, meanings, practices, behaviours, and governance arrangements that can contribute to fair and just sustainable futures
From the local to global, unjust and unsustainable development are maintained by rigid systems of power. Indeed, creating a fair, prosperous world that maintains and strengthens Earth’s life-support systems requires transformative changes.
At the same time, research on biosphere stewardship – the active shaping of development trajectories for social-ecological resilience and human well-being – is essential to identify and understand the diverse ways in which individuals and societies are able and empowered to act in concert with nature, and cases where transformations are necessary.
In this theme we combine the research around:
• biosphere stewardship, directing attention to human-nature relationships that nurture biodiversity and Earth’s life-support systems, emphasizing notions of care, learning and collaboration
• research on social-ecological transformations highlighting the importance of agency, resistance, innovation and imagination to guide profound and fundamental change.
Exploration of novel theories
Our research explores the kinds of knowledge systems, values, meanings, practices, behaviours, and governance arrangements that can contribute to the adaptive or transformative capacity to navigate towards fair and just sustainable futures.
Transformations and biosphere stewardship research are connected and interdependent, both guided by the analysis and understanding of goals of fair, just and sustainable futures – in all their complexity and diversity; and both rooted in the knowledge-action interface.
Research in this theme encourages exploration of novel theories, methods and philosophical perspectives for studying social-ecological systems and system-wide cascading effects of change in diverse contexts.
Research builds on transdisciplinary approaches for mobilizing and co-constructing knowledge with actors at multiple scales, and for understanding and facilitating transformative change towards sustainable futures.
This transdisciplinary orientation is interrogated through reflexive research on the role, influence and positionality of researchers as change makers and transformative space-makers, and relationships with other actors in the pursuit of meaningful change.
Stewardship & transformation news
Research news | 2024-02-20
Having good neighbours and few top predators make predatory fish populations more resilient
A regime shift is gradually spreading through the archipelagos of the Swedish Baltic Sea coast, where shallow bays, previously dominated by pike and perch have one by one become dominated by one of their prey species, the three-spined stickleback.
Research news | 2024-01-24
Centralised social networks can hinder innovation by making decision-making too similar
Social systems where influence is centred around one or two individuals can lead to pack mentality and groupthink in farming communities
Research news | 2024-01-23
Planetary Commons: Fostering global cooperation to safeguard critical Earth system functions
We should look at tipping elements of the Earth system as global commons, argue researchers in a new paper published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Research news | 2024-01-16
Imagining pathways towards desirable futures
Every day, people plan for the future, but having structured thoughts about what futures could look like is a skill we should all practice in the face of the Anthropocene, according to recent research
Research news | 2024-01-08
Wild plants and animals are key for well-being in the tropics, as is economic development
Should the use of wild plants and animals be rapidly phased out in the tropics for conservation and development purposes? A new study argues that this would not be such a good idea
Research news | 2024-01-08
New system guides businesses to act within planetary boundaries
Only measuring carbon emissions will not help companies understand if they are on track in their sustainability work. A research team of ecologists and economists has developed a new reporting system: Earth System Impact, ESI
Ecosystem services, livelihoods and resilience in Sahel
Insights on on adaptation, innovation and the regreening of the Sahel region
Social-ecological systems (SES), are characterized by multi-scale interactions among actors and ecosystems. SES-Link investigates these linkages and how they affect resilience and governance