Beijer Young Scholars

The first Beijer Young Scholars group, 17 post-docs or advanced PhD students with a background in economics, ecology, political science and related disciplines, met in three workshops between 2012 and 2015.

BYS1 with resource persons 2012. Back row: Ram Fishman, Kyle Meng, Johan Gars, Geoff McCarney, Gustav Engström, Florian Diekert, Carl Folke, Mark Sanctuary, Marc Metian, Martin Sjöstedt. Front row: Christina Leijonhufvud, Lisen Schultz, Anne-Sophie Crépin, Vassiliki Manoussi, Michael Schoon, Maja Schlüter, Manjana Milkoreit, Astrid Dannenberg, Efthymia Kyriakopoulou, Scott Barrett.

Sustainable Development Goals in the Anthropocene

Besides exploring an interdisciplinary approach to science, they focused on feeding in to the process of shaping the Sustainable Development Goals. In an article in Ecology and Society the group presented three necessary conditions for establishing effective SDGs. As a first condition the authors argued that the SDGs need to embrace the concept of social-ecological systems, seeing people and the biosphere as integrated parts of a whole rather than as separate systems.

Secondly, the SDG process needs to address and navigate the trade-offs between being ambitious and achievable. The new goals will be composed of moral and political commitments, much like the MDGs, but they will not be legally binding. This means that there is a need for those setting the goals to be aware of the different constraints, biophysical, social and political, that different nations and peoples face. It also means that the SDGs need to be set in a way so that they are inspiring rather than deterring. And that they should address issues that can be tackled on different levels in society and government.

The third condition for developing effective SDGs, according to the BYS group, was that formulating the goals should be guided by existing knowledge about social change processes on all scales, from global to individual.

Lessons from the BYS experience

At their last workshop at the Academy and the island of Fejan in Stockholm archipelago, the group also spent time distilling insights and lessons learnt from the BYS process. The overall impression from the BYS-members is that the network and workshops have been unique in their interdisciplinary composition and with their open and trusting atmosphere. Several members professed that BYS had profoundly changed their research perspective and their willingness to work over disciplines to address global sustainability challenges.

BYS1 publications:

Norström, A. V., A. Dannenberg, G. McCarney, M. Milkoreit, F. Diekert, G. Engström, R. Fishman, J. Gars, E. Kyriakopoolou, V. Manoussi, K. Meng, M. Metian, M. Sanctuary, M. Schlüter, M. Schoon, L. Schultz, and M. Sjöstedt. 2014. Three necessary conditions for establishing effective Sustainable Development Goals in the Anthropocene. Ecology and Society 19(3): 8.

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Norström, A. V., M. Metian, M. Schlüter, L. Schultz, A. Dannenberg, G. McCarney, M. Milkoreit, F. Diekert, G. Engström, J. Gars, M. Sanctuary, R. Fishman, E. Kyriakopoulou, M. Sjöstedt, V. Manoussi, K. Meng, and M. Schoon. 2013. Social change vital to sustainability goals. Nature Correspondence 498:299.

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