- An encyclopedia of resilience
- Research grant to look at "city compaction"
- Guiding coral reef futures in the Anthropocene
- New grant to increase sustainable seafood production and consumption
- Clues for tipping from vicious to virtuous behaviour identified
- EAT-Lancet commission - new solutions for our global food system
- Beijer Institute Carl Folke praised for outstanding achievments for the environment.
- Call for Sweden to take the lead for sustainable seafood
- Fish matters - but how ?
- Valuing and Designing Payment Systems for Ecosystem Services
- News Archive
An encyclopedia of resilience
Research grant to look at "city compaction"
In 2050 the world’s urban population is expected to have reached 6 billion. In estimation this would entail an areal expansion equivalent to the whole of Spain, Germany and France put together. How these urban areas are built will impact greatly on climate change and biodiversity.
Researchers Johan Colding and Åsa Gren at the Beijer Institute and Stockholm Resilience Centre have received a grant of 1,5 million SEK for research to increase the understanding of environmental pros and cons of “city compaction” – densifying the city – focusing on the Stockholm region.The project aims to critically review arguments for city compaction in academic literature; to build knowledge concerning what kind of land that is used for compaction in the Stockholm region; and to investigate, together with architecture researchers, how compaction can be designed to better promote biodiversity and ecosystem services.
Colding and Gren are excited about the grant as they see these challenges as key for sustainable development globally:
“The urban landscape is ever growing and changing and will continue to do so,” says Colding. “We are now at a point where the decisions we make on how to build and develop cities will be of critical importance and determine our chances of reaching sustainability and building for resilience in the systems we depend upon.”
“The UN Sustainable Development Goals includes one that specifically is about sustainability in cities. With the rate and scale of urbanisation today it is clear that this kind of research is needed to find ways of reaching that goal,” Gren concludes.
Guiding coral reef futures in the Anthropocene
This year’s coral bleaching event that destroyed vast tracts of valuable coral reefs, due to El Niño and climate change, was the most widespread in recorded history. Many now ask how much more warming in combination with overfishing, pollution and other human pressures the world’s coral reefs can endure?
The current state of knowledge is, for the first time ever, synthesised at a global level in a new article published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment by Beijer Institute director Carl Folke and PhD student Jean-Baptiste Jouffray (also at GEDB), together with colleagues at the Stockholm Resilience Centre and elsewhere.
Safe operating spaces
“Ensuring that reefs and the many benefits they provide to human societies endure will require that fishing, water quality, and climate change stay within acceptable levels or ‘safe operating spaces’,” says lead author Albert Norström, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
Defining these safe levels is challenging because coral reefs in different parts of the world will respond differently to human pressures. There is also a lack of data and studies on how much reef organisms will be able to adapt to change.
"The values we provide should be regarded as guidelines, which will become more accurate with further studies and greater understanding," Norström continues.
The concept of safe operating spaces follows the precautionary principle with the aim to confine human pressures far enough from really dangerous levels, or thresholds, that might trigger abrupt and permanent coral reef degradation. The team of scientists chose this approach because despite the importance of thresholds, and recent advances in predicting them, they are extremely hard to generalise globally.
The authors hope that a better understanding of safe operating spaces might help bring issues of coral reef sustainability to the international negotiating tables. This is important because local management efforts alone will not be able to keep pace with the escalating speed of social, technological and ecological changes that challenge these safe operating spaces, they say.
“Conventional approaches like marine protected areas can offer local socioeconomic and ecological benefits, but are usually far too narrow in scope and small in scale, and often suffer from weak compliance and enforcement,” explains Magnus Nyström, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
“Coral reef scientists around the world should engage more with the international policy arena to work toward sharp reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals,” adds Jean-Baptiste Jouffray
Norström, A., M. Nyström, J. Jouffray, C. Folke, N. Graham, F. Moberg, P. Olsson, and G. Williams. 2016. Guiding coral reef futures in the Anthropocene. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 14(9):490–498
New grant to increase sustainable seafood production and consumption
Beijer Institute researcher Max Troell and colleagues have been granted SEK 10 million in funding by the Swedish research council Formas for research on how to sustainably increase production and consumption of seafood in Sweden.
Healthy, but what about sustainable?
Producing healthy food for a growing world population without increasing the pressure on the planet’s ecosystems is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Seafood could play an increasingly important role for global food supply since it is both healthy and comparatively resource efficient to produce. At the same time, capture fisheries and aquaculture production can cause harm to the environment, for example from the use of damaging fishing gear or by overuse of antibiotics in fish farms.
“These are problems that need to be addressed if the seafood sector is to reach its full potential,” says project leader Max Troell. “Within this new project we aim to investigate environmental performance of some innovative Swedish aquaculture methods, for instance farms that integrate aquaculture and agriculture, growing their own fish feed and using byproducts from the aquaculture on the fields. Or closed recirculating systems where the seafood is grown on tanks on land. We will quantify impacts such as greenhouse gas emission, nutrient emission, acidification and land-use, ” Troell explains. Project partners in Gothenburg and Canada will also study fishing practices aimed to minimize bycatch.
How to change habits
Moreover, the interdisciplinary team of researchers will look at what drives or hinders people to eat more sustainable and healthy seafood. With experimental behavioral studies they will explore what makes customers choose sustainable alternatives and they will also study what role eco-certification, such as MSC, ASC and similar labels, as well as other policy measures play.
Knowledge that can stimulate change
The project named SEACHANGE is teaming up with public and private partners to maximize value for society and the findings will be used to improve existing sea food guides (WWF) aimed at consumers, retailers and producers. Although this project have a Swedish focus, a broader impact can be foreseen:
“Increased knowledge on effective mechanisms in improving the environmental performance of fisheries and aquaculture will be of great importance for stimulating change, both in Sweden and globally,” concludes team project member Patrik Henriksson, Stockholm Resilience Centre and the Beijer Institute.
Project members: Beijer, SRC SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden, Uppsala University, Sweden, Dalhousie University, Canada, Århus University, Denmark
Project collaborators: WWF, EAT, Vegafish, Gårdsfisk, Nofima, Krav, Livsmedelsverket, ICA.
Clues for tipping from vicious to virtuous behaviour identified
Reference: Nyborg, K., Anderies, J. M., Dannenberg, A., Lindahl, T., Schill, C., Schlüter, M., W. N. Adger, K. J. Arrow, S. Barrett, S. Carpenter, F. S. Chapin III, A-S. Crépin, G. Daily, P. Ehrlich, C. Folke, W. Jager, N. Kautsky, S. A. Levin, O. J. Madsen, S. Polasky, M. Scheffer, B. Walker, E. U. Weber, J. Wilen, A. Xepapadeas, A. de Zeeuw (2016). Social norms as Solutions. Science Vol. 354, Issue 6308, pp. 42-43 DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf8317
EAT-Lancet commission - new solutions for our global food system
Obesity rates are rising in nearly every country in the world and one in three people on Earth suffers from some form of malnutrition. Overconsumption of unhealthy food is increasing, at the expense of human health and the resilience of ecosystems.
To address this, a new EAT-Lancet commission has been launched to tackle the global food system’s role in malnutrition and global change. The commission will investigate the connections between diet, human health and the state of the planet to provide a basis for new evidence-based policies. This global assessment, due for completion in 2017, will be the first systematic analysis of the global food system and will help policy makers by providing a roadmap for how transformation of the food system can help in attaining the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and meeting the terms of the Paris Climate Agreement.
The EAT-Lancet Commission, which consists of 20 world-renowned scientists, was launched in Stockholm on 11-12 June prior to the 2016 EAT Stockholm Food Forum. It is co-chaired by Professor Johan Rockström, SRC (and Professor Walter Willet, Harvard School of Public Health. Beijer researchers Therese Lindahl and Max Troell belong to the team of supporting co-authors.
Read more here
Beijer Institute Carl Folke praised for outstanding achievments for the environment.
Front photo shows: Anders Wall, head of the Beijer Foundation, Christina Moberg, President of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Carl Folke and Michael Meadows, IGU general secretary
Professor Carl Folke has been awarded the Planet and Humanity Medal, the International Geographical Union's (IGU) most prestigious award, which is given to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to environmental issues. Previous recipients have included Al Gore, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Michail Gorbachev and Nelson Mandela.
Professor Carl Folke, who is also science director at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, was recognised for his "outstanding contribution to science and action on the resilience of humanity and the planet". The IGU Honours and Awards Committee said: "Through his committed engagement to transdisciplinary research, he has been a pioneer on understanding resilience as progress that serves the betterment of humanity."
Furthermore Carl Folke was celebrated for his scientific insight, compassion, humour, and optimism, and for fostering greater trust between science and society.
"He has mentored and acted as a role model for peers and students, demonstrating every day and in diverse ways how science can be a powerful means for reconnecting humanity to the biosphere," the awards committee said.
Carl Folke is a professor in natural resource management and one of the world's most cited scientists. In his research, he seeks a deeper understanding of the interaction between ecological systems and social and economic development, which can help us identify pathwaus towards a sustainable future for humanity. At the Beijer Institute and the Stockholm Resilience Centre, he has led transdisciplinary researchprogrammes where the interactionshave been studied and described with theoretical models and concepts such as natural capital, ecosystem services and ecological footprint. The results have been used in UN documents, EU decisions and the national measures in different countries, but also at the local level in municipalities and companies.
The medal is awarded by the IGU Secretary General Professor Michael Meadows at a ceremony at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on Tuesday, 25 October.
Read Swedish press release here
Download pictures from the award ceremony here (available from 26 October)
Previous recipients of the International Geographical Union Planet and Humanity Medal
Call for Sweden to take the lead for sustainable seafood
Fish matters - but how ?
That fish is important for many poor is a statement that few would question. Within the developing community fish is generally upheld as important for both food security and poverty reduction in many countries around the world. But on what research is this narrative based and what is the scientific quality and consistency of supporting literature?
A recent study published in World Development set out to evaluate the existing evidence of how and to what extent capture fisheries and aquaculture contribute to improving nutrition, food security, and economic growth. This review is co-authored by Beijer Institute researcher Max Troell, together with an international team of scientists led by Chris Béné at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT/CGIAR). It aims to assess the scientific quality and consistency of existing literature focusing on fisheries link to food security and poverty, as well as identifying and discussing inconsistencies. The study covered 202 academic research documents from the period 2003- 2014 with a focus on low and middle income countries.
Missing pieces in the picture
Overall the review identified quite a notable variation in terms of scientific quality and methodological rigour through the 202 studies.
“There is no doubt that fisheries can contribute to nutrition and food security, but the links between capture fisheries/aquaculture and poverty alleviation are complex and still to some extent unclear” - says Max Troell.
The analysis showed that national and household level studies on fisheries’ contributions to poverty alleviation lack good conceptual models and produce inconsistent results. For aquaculture this was different as national and household studies focused mainly on export value chains and used diverse approaches.
Some degree of poverty alleviation and possibly other positive outcomes for fish farmers was identified, but these outcomes depended to a large extent on the specific farming on whether the aquaculture practices had come from within communities or as a result of development assistance interventions.
“Importantly the evaluation reveals that evidence-based research and policy narratives are often disconnected” says lead author Chris Béné who further points out that this may lead to questionable policy recommendations.
Six steps to success
The study identified six key knowledge gaps for policy-makers, practitioners and researchers:
1. Key components of capture fisheries and aquaculture are often not accounted for or miscounted in national statistics. Few socio-economic studies have looked at the impact of fisheries or aquaculture on low-income households.
2. Gender relations as well as health and safety need to be addressed in the fisheries sector. Women are often under-represented in statistics, and health and safety issues are often neglected.
3. Poverty is not clearly conceptualised, articulated or measured in fisheries and aquaculture studies. For example recognition is needed that addressing fisheries management issues in developing countries is not the same as addressing the issue per se.
4. For aquaculture many questions remain concerning who benefits and at what cost to whom. The causal effect between aquaculture development, food security and poverty alleviation is not necessarily a straightforward one.
5. Problems persist in the area of nutrition and determining the impact of fish availability on micronutrient status and other measurables.
6. There is an urgent need for more studies to explore the local-level impacts of global drivers of food security such as urbanisation and climate change. For example, lack of reliable data on small-scale fisheries risk complicating the uncertainty induced by climate change on the dynamics of fish stocks.
Reference: : Béné, C., R. Arthur, H. Norbury, E. H. Allison, M.C.M Beveridge, S. Bush, L. Campling, W. Leschen, D. Little, D. Squires, S. Thilsted, M. Troell; M. Williams (2016). Contribution of Fisheries and Aquaculture to Food Security and Poverty Reduction: Assessing the Current Evidence. World Development, 79: 177-196.
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)