Artificial intelligence, systemic risks, and sustainability

Automated decision making and predictive analytics through artificial intelligence, in combination with rapid progress in technologies such as sensor technology and robotics are likely to change the way individuals, communities, governments and private actors perceive and respond to climate and ecological change. Methods based on various forms of artificial intelligence are already today being applied in a number of research fields related to climate change…

Countryside within the City: A Motivating Vision behind Civic Green Area Stewardship in Warsaw, Poland

In the midst of the epoch of the Urban Anthropocene, citizen engagement is an important step on the path of creating local and global sustainability. However, the factors that motivate civic urban dwellers to become voluntary stewards of nature environments inside cities need research. This is an empirical study based on deep interviews and a grounded theory approach focused on the “inner world” of people…

Coevolutionary Governance of Antibiotic and Pesticide Resistance

Development of new biocides has dominated human responses to evolution of antibiotic and pesticide resistance. Increasing and uniform biocide use, the spread of resistance genes, and the lack of new classes of compounds indicate the importance of navigating toward more sustainable coevolutionary dynamics between human culture and species that evolve resistance. To inform this challenge, we introduce the concept of coevolutionary governance and propose three…

Untapped capacity for resilience in environmental law

International and national law have not stemmed the tide of rapidly accelerating environmental change. In response to this challenge, we highlight examples from the United States and the European Union of the untapped capacity of existing laws to enhance social-ecological resilience to these continual changes. The recommendations we advance regarding how to mine existing legal instruments to enhance resilience are agenda-setting, and they represent a…

Exploring the social-ecological systems discourse 20 years later

This paper explores the 20-year evolution of the social-ecological systems framework (SESs). Although a first definition of SES dates back to 1988, Berkes and Folke more thoroughly used the concept in 1998 to analyze resilience in local resource management systems. Since then studies of interlinked human and natural systems have emerged as a field on its own right, promoting interdisciplinary dialogue and collaboration in a…

Social-ecological systems as complex adaptive systems: organizing principles for advancing research methods and approaches

The study of social-ecological systems (SES) has been significantly shaped by insights from research on complex adaptive systems (CAS). We offer a brief overview of the conceptual integration of CAS research and its implications for the advancement of SES studies and methods. We propose a conceptual typology of six organizing principles of CAS based on a comparison of leading scholars’ classifications of CAS features and…

The Economics of Resilience

This paper provides an interpretive overview on the economics of resilience with special reference to social-ecological systems. We address the basic sciences of regime shifts and resilience in different settings linked to empirical cases and review the economic models related to these aspects. In particular we discuss models to assess market outcomes when thresholds exist and are known and particular characteristics of such systems when…

Resilience and Development: Mobilizing for Transformation

In 2014, the Third International Conference on the resilience of social-ecological systems chose the theme “resilience and development: mobilizing for transformation.” The conference aimed specifically at fostering an encounter between the experiences and thinking focused on the issue of resilience through a social and ecological system perspective, and the experiences focused on the issue of resilience through a development perspective. In this perspectives piece, we…

Maintaining cooperation in social-ecological systems: Effective bottom-up management often requires sub-optimal resource use

Natural resources are vulnerable to overexploitation in the absence of effective management. However, norms, enforced by social ostracism, can promote cooperation and increase stock biomass in common-pool resource systems. Unfortunately, the long-term sustainable use of a resource is not assured even if cooperation, maintained by ostracism and aimed at optimizing resource use, exists. Here, using the example of fisheries, we show that for a cooperative…

Social-ecological resilience and biosphere-based sustainability science

Humanity has emerged as a major force in the operation of the biosphere. The focus is shifting from the environment as externality to the biosphere as precondition for social justice, economic development, and sustainability. In this article, we exemplify the intertwined nature of social-ecological systems and emphasize that they operate within, and as embedded parts of the biosphere and as such coevolve with and depend…

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