Advancing sustainability through mainstreaming a social-ecological systems perspective

Authors Fischer, J.; Gardner, T.A.; Bennett, E.M.; Balvanera, P.; Biggs, R.; Carpenter, S.; Daw, T.; Folke, C.; Hill, R.; Hughes, T.P.; Luthe, T.; Maass, M.; Meacham, M.; Norstrom, A.V.; Peterson, G.; Queiroz, C.; Seppelt, R.; Spierenburg, M.; Tenhunen, J.
Year of Publication 2015
Type of Publication Journal Article
Journal Current Opinion In Environmental Sustainability
Volume 14
Issue 4
Pagination 144-149
Open Access No


The concept of social-ecological systems is useful for understanding the interlinked dynamics of environmental and societal change. The concept has helped facilitate: (1) increased recognition of the dependence of humanity on ecosystems; (2) improved collaboration across disciplines, and between science and society; (3) increased methodological pluralism leading to improved systems understanding; and (4) major policy frameworks considering social-ecological interactions. Despite these advances, the potential of a social-ecological systems perspective to improve sustainability outcomes has not been fully realized. Key priorities are to: (1) better understand and govern social-ecological interactions between regions; (2) pay greater attention to long-term drivers; (3) better understand the interactions among power relations, justice, and ecosystem stewardship; and (4) develop a stronger science-society interface.