- Reflections on people and the biosphere
- Beijer Institute board member wins 2014 Volvo Environment Prize
- Zooming in on blue-fin tuna farming
- Climate engineering reconsidered
- Changing Planet: New cluster on global change research
- Aquaculture and the resilience of global food systems
- Book: Principles of social-ecological urbanism
- Water resilience for human prosperity
- Seminar with Cass R.Sunstein: Freedom of Choice
- Short course: Applied Methods Related to Regime Shifts in Social-Ecological Systems
- News Archive
Reflections on people and the biosphere
Beijer Institute board member wins 2014 Volvo Environment Prize
Zooming in on blue-fin tuna farming
Tuna is one of the top fish commodities in the international seafood trade. The bluefin tuna can attain astonishing high market prices which has led to a dramatic decline in many wild stocks. This has triggered the development of bluefin tuna (BFT) aquaculture as an economic alternative for meeting the growing demand. However, a new study published in the journal Reviews in Fisheries Science & Aquaculture by Beijer researcher Max Troell and colleagues from Stockholm Resilience Centre and Duke University, shows that catching juvenile bluefin tuna and farming (ranching) them on giant farms raises a number of sustainability concerns.
Tuna is a very resource-demanding species to farm and the article sheds light on direct and indirect interactions with wild fish stocks. While most captured bluefin tuna enter the global seafood market directly, an increasing proportion of the live catch is used for aquaculture. As the authors points out, there are confounding uncertainties related to how much wild tuna is being caught for farming in so-called “sea ranches”, what the future trend might be and also uncertainties with respect to statistics for farmed volumes.
"In order to improve the management of BFT, leading countries need to revise their statistics and solve problems with misreporting, underreporting and illegal catches," co-author Max Troell says.
He stresses that this should be a collective effort between the producing countries and international organisations such as FAO. A harmonisation of data will help the scientific stock assessment and facilitate more sustainable quotas. This would have to involve better estimation of fish sizes and weight caught for aquaculture.
Metian M., S. Pouil, A. M. Boustany, and M. Troell. 2014. Farming of bluefin tuna – reconsidering global estimates and sustainability concerns. Reviews in Fisheries Science & Aquaculture 22(3):184-192.
Climate engineering reconsidered
Barrett, S., T. M. Lenton, A. Millner, A. Tavoni, S. Carpenter, J. M. Anderies, F. S. Chapin III, A.-S. Crépin, G. Daily, P. R. Ehrlich, C. Folke, V. Galaz, T. P. Hughes, N. Kautsky, E. Lambin, R. Naylor, K. Nyborg, S. Polasky, M. Scheffer, J. Wilen, A. Xepapadeas, and A. de Zeeuw. 2014. Climate engineering reconsidered. Nature Climate Change 4:527-529.
Changing Planet: New cluster on global change research
Researchers join forces to strengthen research on global social-ecological connectivity
How is the human enterprise shaping the biosphere and how can we become better stewards of planet Earth? These are some of the fundamental questions that will drive a new research cluster called 'Changing Planet'.
The cluster primarily consists of researchers from the Stockholm Resilience Centre, the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics and the Erling-Persson Family Academy Programme - Global Economic Dynamics and the Biosphere.
It is researchers from the "global themes" of the three above mentioned organisations that form the new initiative. They are all well-connected and will rely heavily on a network of organisations around the world including the Earth System Governance Project, Resilience Alliance and University of Waterloo in order to advance the research and contribute to positive change for global sustainability.
A pressing need for new perspectives
'Changing Planet' is a response to the increasing need for improved understanding of interactions between people and ecosystems at larger scales.
While previous research has done a great job in mapping and quantifying linkages of many biophysical components at the planetary scale, there is still a poor understanding of social-ecological connectivity at that scale, argue the researchers behind the initiative.
"The pace and extent of global changes means there is a pressing need to develop our understanding of how social processes are interconnected and how they drive and interact with the processes of the biosphere," explains Beatrice Crona, member of the steering group.
Solutions at multiple scales
The new umbrella initiative aims to provide a platform to develop this knowledge, making use of the diverse methodological toolboxes and skillsets of the contributing research programmes and their international partners.
"The research undertaken within 'Changing Planet' will be broadly concerned with understanding how humans affect social and ecological processes, what this may lead to and what possible solutions and transformations can be initiated to improve outcomes in the future," says Anne-Sophie Crépin, also part of the steering group.
The partner organisations have already organised several international workshops about global dynamics. Now, with the launch of the new cluster the work will be strengthened through a range of different activities, including interactive 'learnshops', a kind of workshops designed to create dialogue and learning across academia and business and/or practitioners
Research will also be conducted by postdocs and senior researchers employed or affiliated to each programme.
The cluster's new website includes more details about partners, advisors, funders and ongoing research, as well as publications, videos and blogposts.
Anne-Sophie Crépin, Deputy director and leader of the Global dynamics and resilience programme, the Beijer Institute of Ecological economics
Beatrice Crona, Exevutive director, Global Economic Dynamics and the Biosphere, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Sara Cornell, Coordinator of the Planetary Boundaries initiative, Stockholm Resilience Centre
Victor Galaz, Theme leader of the Global and cross-scale dynamics theme, Stockholm Resilience Centre
Aquaculture and the resilience of global food systems
Does aquaculture add resilience to the world’s food portfolio?
The global food systems are fragile and put under constant strain due to the relentless rise in human demand for animal protein. Resource scarcity and degradation of ecosystems combined with the greater frequency of shocks and unexpected events such as droughts, pest outbreaks and price fluctuations, create cumulative pressures.
What is the role of aquaculture, farming of fish, shellfish and other aquatic organisms for human consumption, in addressing this dilemma? Will aquaculture, which is the fastest growing sector of the food system, enhance or detract from the resilience of the global food system?
These questions are posed in an article published in the Proceedings of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), authored by a group of globally renowned interdisciplinary scholars led by Max Troell of the Beijer Institute for Ecological Economics and the Stockholm Resilience Centre. The article is a result of the Beijer Institute’s annual Askö meeting.
The global food system: fragile and vulnerable
More food is needed for a growing global population and there is an increasing appetite for animal protein – particularly in countries with growing economies such as China and India. This poses a challenge in terms of using natural resources, fish feed, water and energy, as efficiently as possible while minimising environmental impacts. At the same time, resource scarcity and the impacts of climate change put pressure on food production systems.
These pressures of increasing production while facing diminishing resources also occur in the context of rapidly fluctuating food prices, undermining food security. This was demonstrated during 2008 when spikes in food prices led to food riots in many places around the world.
Aquaculture offers the potential to reduce the fragility of the global food system by acting as a buffer by increasing the variety of proteins that are available for human consumption.
"The rapid rise of aquaculture during the last two decades provokes both optimism and apprehension among scientists and policy analysts concerned with global food security," says Marc Metian, co-author.
The growth is indeed remarkable. In the past couple of decades the cultivation of fish and shellfish in freshwater and marine systems grew at an annual rate that substantially exceeded that of poultry, pork, dairy, beef, and grains. As a general trend, the price of farmed seafood has also been more stable than prices in other sectors of the food system.
Aquaculture's contribution to global food supplies will depend on its use of food-grade crops and its ability to use agriculture residues, and also on its future use of wild fish for feeds – something that is also entangled with issues of social equity and ethics. A key example is the use of fish and crops directly for food versus using them to feed farmed aquatic animals and livestock.
An innovative approach
The paper uses an innovative framework called Portfolio theory, which enabled the authors to analyse how growth in aquaculture and diversifying food production may enhance the ability of the global food system to meet future demands under changing conditions.
"This first set of global estimates of the use of crops for feed in aquaculture indicates that the crops used are often the same as those used for terrestrial animal farming, but also shows that the volumes used for aquaculture are still low," says Max Troell.
A call to action – moving beyond academia
The authors conclude that the present diversity of aquaculture does contribute important elements of stability to the world's food portfolio, but in the long run this will depend on how the sector develops in terms of species composition, feed inputs, and system design and operation.
Finally, they make a strong call to action:
"If the aquaculture industry seeks to dominate the global market for animal protein, it should take a leading role in promoting a strategy of resilience. By doing so, it can contribute to improving the stability of the world's portfolio of proteins in support of global food security. This requires the development of a diversity of aquaculture species; the promotion of ethically sourced co-products from the crop, livestock, and fisheries sectors for feeds; infrastructure design that uses renewable energy and, the implementation of management practices that minimize wastes, environmental impacts and social inequalities."
Troell, M., Rosamond L. Naylor, M. Metian, M. Beveridge, P. Tyedmers, C. Folke, K. Arrow, S. Barrett, A-S. Crépin, P. Ehrlich, Å. Gren, N. Kautsky, S. Levin, K. Nyborg, H. Österblom, S. Polasky, M. Scheffer, B. Walker, T. Xepapadeas, A. de Zeeuw. 20104. Does Aquaculture Add Resilience to the Global Food System? PNAS 2014
Book: Principles of social-ecological urbanism
This new publication is the result of a close collaboration between researchers at the Beijer Institute, the School of Architecture, Stockholms Resilience Centre and KIT Arkitektur. It presents the principles of urban design articulated in the work on the project Albano Resilient Campus, a new multi-university urban district on the edge between Stcokholm city centre and the Royal National City Park.
Barthel, S., J. Colding, H. Erixon, S. Grahn, C. Kärsten, L. Marcus, J. Torsvall. 2013. Principles of Social-Ecological Urbanism - Case Study: Albano Campus, Stockholm. Trita-ARK Forskningspublikationer 2013:3
Water resilience for human prosperity
New book introduces new framework for water governance and management
Water is the bloodstream of nature and wise stewardship of freshwater, from the very local to the regional, is central to human development and prosperity. But over-use and mismanagement of freshwater resources now threatens the functioning of ecosystems that are crucial to human activities.
The new book Water Resilience for Human Prosperity, analyses the problems and provides examples of successful water resource management with main focus on freshwater use for current and future food production. The key message of the book that by identifying and understanding the available water resources for humans and nature, we can find solutions that provide prosperity for more people and for a longer time.
The two major forces impacting the water cycle are human-induced: land-use change and consumption for agriculture, households and industries. Understanding the feedbacks in social-ecological systems can help in building water resilience, argue the authors.
"Water is key for maintaining and enhancing the resilience of social-ecological systems that we depend on," says Johan Rockström, director of Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) who is lead author of the book written together with Beijer Institute director Carl Folke and other colleagues at SRC, Stockholm Environment Institute and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
Water Resilience for Human Prosperity. Johan Rockström, Malin Falkenmark, Carl Folke, Mats Lannerstad, Jennie Barron, Elin Enfors, Line Gordon, Jens Heinke, Holger Hoff and Claudia Pohl-Wostl, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. 2014.
Seminar with Cass R.Sunstein: Freedom of Choice
How a gentle nudge can change our behaviour
No registration is needed
Short course: Applied Methods Related to Regime Shifts in Social-Ecological Systems
The course is arranged by the Beijer Institute in conjunction with the World Conference of Environmental and Resource Economists, WCERE 2014 June 27-28, 2014 in Istanbul, Turkey. Its target audience is researchers from developing and transition countries, especially encouraging applicants from the regional environmental economics networks CEEPA, EEPSEA, LACEEP, and SANDEE.