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Social-ecological resilience and biosphere-based sustainability science

Carl Folke, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden; Beijer Institute, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden
Reinette Biggs, Centre for Complex Systems in Transition, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa; Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Albert V Norström, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Belinda Reyers, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Johan Rockström, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-08748-210341

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Abstract

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 on it. We regard social-ecological systems as complex adaptive systems and use a social-ecological resilience approach as a lens to address and understand their dynamics. We raise the challenge of stewardship of development in concert with the biosphere for people in diverse contexts and places as critical for long-term sustainability and dignity in human relations. Biosphere stewardship is essential, in the globalized world of interactions with the Earth system, to sustain and enhance our life-supporting environment for human well-being and future human development on Earth, hence, the need to reconnect development to the biosphere foundation and the need for a biosphere-based sustainability science.

Key words

Anthropocene; biosphere stewardship; natural capital; resilience; social-ecological systems; sustainability science

Copyright © 2016 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087