- Valuing and Designing Payment Systems for Ecosystem Services
- Seminar: People and Sulfur: The Forgotten Element Cycle
- A new landscape of global crises
- Managing ecosystems for predictable outcomes may backfire
- 2016 Mäler Scholarship in Environmental Economics
- Nudges: The new black in environmental policy?
- Keystone actors shape marine ecosystems
- Beijer Institute research visualised in art-science exhibition
- Beijer Institute researchers receive funding from the Ragnar Söderberg Foundation
- Global icons, local threats
- News Archive
Valuing and Designing Payment Systems for Ecosystem Services
A short course held in conjunction with EAERE 2016 June 21-22, 2016, in Zurich, Switzerland
Payment systems for ecosystem services (PES) have expanded rapidly in the decade since the publication of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Most PES systems pertain to regulating services, and they aim to create incentives to conserve ecosystems that are presumed to supply such services. Examples include watershed payment programs that are intended to improve water quality or reduce floods and droughts by conserving forests in upland regions. Despite the increasing popularity of PES systems, the value of the services that these systems actually supply in practice remains poorly understood, and the design of the systems faces a number of economic challenges that can impede their effectiveness.
This two-day course will cover both of these issues: the valuation of regulating ecosystem services, and the design of PES systems to supply those services. It will involve a mix of lectures and interactive exercises. The valuation sessions will include hands-on econometric exercises that use the statistical package Stata. The sessions on PES design will include group discussions and presentations. The primary instructors in the course are: Prof Nick Hanley (University of St Andrews, Scotland, UK) and Prof. Jeffrey R. Vincent (Duke University, North Carolina, USA)
Seminar: People and Sulfur: The Forgotten Element Cycle
Tuesday 24 November 2015, 13.00-16.30, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
The carbon cycle has taken centre stage as a global element cycle in the run-up to the Paris climate conference and beyond. Even the nitrogen and phosphorus cycles get plenty of attention in their role as critical elements for food production, as well as pollutants that can eutrophy freshwater systems and the coastal zone. But in many ways, the global sulfur cycle is just as important.
It was at the centre of the acid rain problem that afflicted Europe and eastern North America a few decades ago. For many years, sulfur compounds have been central to the role of aerosols in local and regional air pollution, most notably as a feature that threatens the stability of South Asian monsoon system and that drives health impacts through urban air pollution.
But the sulfur cycle is also crucial in the functioning of terrestrial and marine ecosystems. In fact, one of the key feed-back mechanisms that operates in the global climate system, involving marine microorganisms and clouds, could be coupled to the sulfur cycle.This seminar explores the global sulfur cycle and its complex relationship with people with 2015 Volvo Environment Prize laureate Professor Henning Rodhe and colleagues.
Henning Rodhe is Professor of Chemical Meteorology at Stockholm University. His pioneering work explains how gases and particles are transported and deposited and how they affect climate, ecosystems and human health. Henning Rodhe’s research can be described to some extent as detective work, combining data collection with scientific theories and fieldwork. He has demonstrated that long-range transportation, as for mercury and radioactive fallout, is more widespread than previously believed. The atmosphere can carry particles a very long way, and the fallout and environmental problems can occur where not expected.
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A new landscape of global crises
In the past crises were often local and isolated. They left surrounding ecosystems and societies largely unaffected. This made aid and governance work easier. Today, crises are becoming more global in reach affecting more people and systems at the same time.
In a recent study in Ecology and Society a framework is proposed to identify the causes, processes and outcomes of multiple interconnected crises, which the authors term "synchronous failure”. The study was led by Thomas Homer-Dixon and Brian Walker and the authors team include Beijer researchers Anne-Sophie Crépin, Carl Folke and Max Troll, as well as several colleagues from the Stockholm Resilience Centre.
The framework shows how several stressors together can cause a crisis which can rapidly spread to become global in reach.
The framework could be used as an initial guide for systematic analyses and identifying early-warning signals and measures for building social-ecological resilience. It can also support establishment of appropriate governance structures that can navigate the danger of synchronous failure.
Causes of crises
The authors argue that future crises will increasingly result from three long-term global trends: the dramatic increase in human economic activity in relation to Earth’s environment, the rapidly increasing connections across the globe, and the decreasing diversity of human cultures, institutions, practices and technologies.
These three trends create several stresses and reduce the capacity of systems to deal with disturbances. Case studies from the 2008 financial-energy and food-energy crises illustrate this.
Three processes at play
The authors identify three processes that occur in such a crisis, often simultaneously and reinforcing each other.
The first is the long fuse big bang where slow burning stresses suddenly reach a tipping point. The straw that broke the camel’s back is not a steadily increased pressure with proportional response throughout but rather a sudden shift.
The second process, simultaneous stresses, emphasizes that many stresses can act on a system simultaneously, for example drought, poverty and social conflict. The relationships and the combined effect of them are important to understand in order to predict their effect and outcome.
The third type called ramifying cascade occurs when sudden and severe disturbances spread through tightly connected networks.
"The future wellbeing of humankind depends on functioning energy, food, water, climate and financial systems. It is increasingly clear how tightly these systems are connected," says Carl Folke.
"We encourage further research on how energy, food, water, climate and financial systems are connected. This type of knowledge is important to understand our capacity to sustain these systems and learn how to deal with crises in the future.”
Homer-Dixon, T., B. Walker, R. Biggs, A.-S. Crépin, C. Folke, E. F. Lambin, G. D. Peterson, J. Rockström, M. Scheffer, W. Steffen, and M. Troell. 2015. Synchronous failure: the emerging causal architecture of global crisis. Ecology and Society 20(3): 6. http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-07681-200306
Managing ecosystems for predictable outcomes may backfire
2016 Mäler Scholarship in Environmental Economics
Nudges: The new black in environmental policy?
Keystone actors shape marine ecosystems
Österblom, H., Jouffray, J-B., Folke, C., Crona, B., Troell, M., Merrie, A., and Rockström, J. 2015. Transnational corporations as ‘keystone actors’ in marine ecosystems. PLOS ONE, http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0127533
Beijer Institute research visualised in art-science exhibition
”The biosphere is the thin outer layer of this planet in which life exists. We humans are part of the biosphere and completely dependent on the air, the oceans, the forests and all other ecological systems in order to survive and thrive.” So begins the text interpreted by artist Jesper Waldersten in the exhibition Patterns of the Biosphere at the classical Swedish design company Svenskt Tenn. It is also the exhibition's overarching message and the basis for all research at the Beijer Institute.
-Regardless of whether one likes nature or not, we are all totally dependent on the biosphere for our own welfare, says Carl Folke, Director of the Beijer Institute. Environmental concern is today seen by many as an obstacle to development, but the conflict between economic development and ecological sustainability is really just a mental construct.
The Swedish interior design company Svenskt Tenn's profit goes via the Kjell and Märta Beijer Foundation to the support of research conducted at the Beijer Institute. In an exhibition opening 15 April, the institute’s research on the interaction between man and the biosphere is visualised.
“Virtually all human activity has effects on the biosphere one way or the other. We want to help widen this knowledge and its importance for our future and the future of the planet, and also clarify the fact that all Svenskt Tenn's customers are contributing to important research in this field,” says Maria Veerasamy, CEO of Svenskt Tenn.
Research at the Beijer Institute include developing new models of thinking and a terminology suited to our times. The Institute has been part of introducing and establishing the concepts "natural capital", "ecosystem services" and "ecological footprint". The results of the Institute's research are being picked up and put into practice at different levels throughout the world, for example in UN documents, EU decisions and national measures in different countries, but also at the local level in municipalities and companies.
A new approach to nature, the biosphere we live in, is the key to a more sustainable society. One way to accomplish this is to explain the world from a transdisciplinary holistic approach, applied by the Beijer Institute.
- Previously, both science and policy focused on one thing at a time. It is only now we begin to grasp the whole picture and understand the scale of the challenges. No place on Earth is unaffected by man and there is no human being that does not depend on the biosphere, says Carl Folke. He continues:
- The meeting between art and science makes it possible to reach people on a more emotional level than scientists normally have access to. We are very happy to have the opportunity to create this exhibition in collaboration with Svenskt Tenn and that it can be displayed in this unique environment.
The exhibition is free of charge and runs from April 15 through to June 15, 2015 in the Svenskt Tenn store in Stockholm.
For more information, contact
Agneta Sundin, communication officer, the Beijer Institute +46 8-673 95 38 or email@example.com,
Vicky Nordh, Marketing Assistant, Svenskt Tenn: +46 8-670 16 23 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Thommy Bindefeld, Marketing Director, Svenskt Tenn: +46 8 670 16 02 or email@example.com
Beijer Institute researchers receive funding from the Ragnar Söderberg Foundation
Global icons, local threats