- Seminar with Cass R.Sunstein: Freedom of Choice
- Short course: Applied Methods Related to Regime Shifts in Social-Ecological Systems
- Mangroves offer protection against storm winds
- Challenges to make farmed fish reach the poor
- Does the threat of environmental collapse change our behavior?
- Seminar: Our future in the Anthropocene
- J. Marty Anderies Programme Director for BENN
- Improving sea food eco-certification
- Nine conditions for a more all-purpose kind of resilience
- The future state of sustainability - State of the World report 2013
- News Archive
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.
Mangroves offer protection against storm winds
Das, S., Crépin, A.-S. Mangroves can provide protection against wind damage during storms, Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science (2013), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2013.09.021
Challenges to make farmed fish reach the poor
Beveridge, M.C.M. ; Thilsted, S.H. ; Phillips, M.J. ; Metian, M. ; Troell, M. ; Hall, S.J. 2013. Meeting the food and nutrition needs of the poor: the role of fish and the opportunities and challenges emerging from the rise of aquaculture. Journal of Fish Biology, VOL. 83, Issue 4. DOI: 10.1111/jfb.12187
Does the threat of environmental collapse change our behavior?
Seminar: Our future in the Anthropocene
J. Marty Anderies Programme Director for BENN
Improving sea food eco-certification
Jonell, M., Phillips, M., Rönnbäck, P. & Troell, M. (2013) Eco-certification of farmed seafood: Will it make a difference? AMBIO (Published online: 23 April 2013) DOI 10.1007/s13280-013-0409-3
Nine conditions for a more all-purpose kind of resilience
Through history unprecedented and unexpected catastrophes have occurred, such as the Krakatao eruption 1883, killing 36 000 and lowering the Earth’s temperature the following years, through the ash particles released. Examples from recent years could be the Japan earthquake and tsunami of 2011 or the mad cow disease outbreak.
To better cope with such events requires general resilience, and economists and ecologists on the Beijer Institute’s annual Askö meeting 2010, in a recently published paper in the journal Sustainability point to the increasing need for a "general resilience" and they suggest nine important conditions to achieve it.
"General resilience is the capacity of social-ecological systems to adapt or transform in response to unfamiliar, unexpected and extreme shocks. Processes for building general resilience are an emerging and crucially important area of research," write the team of scientists, including Beijer Institute researchers Anne-Sophie Crepin, Gustav Engström, Carl Folke and Karl-Göran Mäler together with Economics Laureate Kenneth Arrow and others .
Absorb shocks of all kind
Hence, general resilience is about strengthening the capacity to absorb shocks like storms and floods, even financial meltdowns. Building such broad resilience to unknown disturbances is far more difficult than planning for specific resilience to known types of disturbances. In fact, large-scale disturbances like the mad cow disease and the huge Japan earthquake and tsunami, are outside the scope of experience. The latter example was an earthquake which was extraordinarily powerful and triggered a tsunami with a 14 meter wave that breached the seawalls designed for the expected maximum wave height of 5.7 meter. In addition, the tsunami damaged nuclear power stations by shutting down back up diesel generators which were located in “safe" places on the assumption that the sea walls would hold.
"Such events are unusually so intense or extensive that they require another type of resilience building," argue the authors.
"We should build more 'all-purpose kind' of resilience, although building such resilience is far more difficult and costly than planning for known types of disturbance."
Among the conditions that enable general resilience, the authors of the new paper include nine important aspects: (1) diversity, (2) modularity, (3) openness, (4) reserves, (5) feedbacks, (6) nestedness, (7) monitoring, (8) leadership, and (9) trust.
Diversity, openness and trust
Diversity, for example, entails species that have similar functions but different responses to disturbance (response diversity), so the function is maintained even if one component of an ecosystem is damaged. Diversity of perspectives and experience also matters as much as individual ability, when teams of people are solving complex problems.
Modularity is important because it helps to contain disturbances by separating social-ecological systems from each other, e.g. land management with prescribed fire that uses firebreaks to limit the spread of the fire. Similarly, quarantine mechanisms may restrict the spread of epidemics or invasive species.
In other cases, openness of a social-ecological system might be the key to general resilience, e.g. seed dispersal as a key to recovery from large infrequent forest fires. Hence, there are a number of trade-offs between modularity and openness that is well understood for some social-ecological systems, but not for others.
"Development of trust is another important aspect when building general resilience, determining whether people will be able to collaborate effectively in relation to unfamiliar, unexpected and extreme shocks," the authors conclude.
Carpenter, S.R.; Arrow, K.J.; Barrett, S.; Biggs, R.; Brock, W.A.; Crépin, A.-S.; Engström, G.; Folke, C.; Hughes, T.P.; Kautsky, N.; Li, C.-Z.; McCarney, G.; Meng, K.; Mäler, K.-G.; Polasky, S.; Scheffer, M.; Shogren, J.; Sterner, T.; Vincent, J.R.; Walker, B.; Xepapadeas, A.; Zeeuw, A.D. General Resilience to Cope with Extreme Events. Sustainability 2012, 4, 3248-3259
The future state of sustainability - State of the World report 2013
For more than 25 years, Worldwatch Institute's annual flagship State of the World Reports have presented key insights and perspectives on everything from global security to urban growth via agricultural innovation.
This year's report asks the fundamental and somewhat uncomfortable question: What is the future of sustainability? Has the concept sustainability played its part?
"Every day, we are presented with a range of "sustainable" products and activities—from "green" cleaning supplies to carbon offsets—but with so much labeled as "sustainable", is it time to abandon the concept altogether, or can we find an accurate way to measure sustainability? If so, how can we achieve it? And if not, how can we best prepare for the coming ecological decline?" the report asks.
Reconnecting to the biosphere
To help clarify and indeed put things in perspective, Carl Folke, Beijer Institute director and science director at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, has contributed with a chapter on the need to respect planetary boundaries and reconnect to the biosphere.
"The biosphere, the part of the Earth's crust, waters and atmosphere where life dwells, is the global ecological system all humans and societies depend on. For too long we have looked at the environment as an externality for economic progress, a handy and limitless stock of resources for human exploitation," Folke says.
In his contribution, Folke describes how humans have rapidly become the single most dominant force on Earth, capable of changing the trajectory of the Earth's future.
"It is indeed a remarkable achievement for a single species to become this dominant, but it has to a large extent been enabled by the human ability to draw on the functioning of the biosphere."