Beijer Fellows

Juan-Carlos Rocha | PhD, researcher

Juan Rocha’s research questions are oriented to understanding emergent patterns, from regime shifts in ecological systems to collective action in society. In the long term, his research agenda intents to answer basically two questions. First, which variables would indicate changes in the resilience of different social-ecological systems, or how can we systematically identify resilience surrogates?. Second, how do misperceptions of feedbacks in system dynamics lead to governance misfit, poverty and rigidity traps, market failures as well as conflicts between stakeholders? Juan believes that advancing sustainability science requires embracing the complexity of the social-ecological systems we live in.

Juan-Carlos Rocha


Phone +46 8 673 97 88
Fax + 46 8 15 24 64
Address: The Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, The Royal Swedish Academy of Science, Box 50005 SE-104 05 Stockholm, Sweden


At the Beijer Institute Juan is a post doctoral researcher working on behavioural economics in social-ecological systems with thresholds within the BENN research programme. Through experimental methods, Juan's team is trying to understand how people who rely on natural resources (e.g. fishermen) adapt their extractive behaviour (fishing) when facing a situation pervaded by regime shifts dynamics (e.g. potential fish collapse). In a nutshell, how do people cooperate when facing uncertain thresholds?

Juan is also interested on methods development for resilience assessment and identification of resilience surrogates. He collaborates on international research initiatives for the resilience assessment of the Arctic, where he is exploring qualitative methods for upscaling the resilience assessment to large regions. He is also involved in an international project targeting agricultural innovations in the sub-Saharan Africa. He is exploring quantitative methods to identify where agricultural interventions such as building a dam, can have a substantial impact on improving yields and people's well being in one of the most arid regions of the world.

Before joining the Beijer Institute, Juan earned his PhD in Sustainability Science at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, where he wrote a thesis assessing global patterns of regime shifts. Juan is an ecologist by training and has worked as researcher at the Center for Development Studies at Los Andes University, the Department of Rural Studies at Javeriana University, and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Juan is also involved in outreach science initiatives such as the Regime Shifts Database , where he has been the main contributor of scientific synthesis intended for policy makers and the general audience. He is an avid climber and runner.

Selected publications:
Rocha, J. C., G. D. Peterson, and R. Biggs. 2015a. Regime Shifts in the Anthropocene: Drivers, Risks, and Resilience. PLoS ONE 10:e0134639.

Rocha, J., J. Yletyinen, R. Biggs, T. Blenckner, and G. Peterson. 2015b. Marine regime shifts: drivers and impacts on ecosystems services. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B:20130273.