Social-ecological change: insights from the Southern African Program on Ecosystem Change and Society

Biggs, Reinette, Clements, Hayley S., Cumming, Graeme S., Cundill, Georgina, de Vos, Alta, Hamann, Maike, Luvuno, Linda, Roux, Dirk J., Selomane, Odirilwe, Blanchard, Ryan, Cockburn, Jessica, Dziba, Luthando, Esler, Karen J., Fabricius, Christo, Henriksson, Rebecka, Kotschy, Karen, Lindborg, Regina, Masterson, Vanessa A., Nel, Jeanne L., O’Farrell, Patrick, Palmer, Carolyn G., Pereira, Laura, Pollard, Sharon, Preiser, Rika, Scholes, Robert J., Shackleton, Charlie, Shackleton, Sheona, Sitas, Nadia, Slingsby, Jasper A., Spierenburg, Marja, Tengö, Maria, and Reyers, Belinda (2022) Social-ecological change: insights from the Southern African Program on Ecosystem Change and Society. Ecosystems and People, 18 (1). pp. 447-468.

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Abstract

Social-ecological systems (SES) research has emerged as an important area of sustainability science, informing and supporting pressing issues of transformation towards more sustainable, just and equitable futures. To date, much SES research has been done in or from the Global North, where the challenges and contexts for supporting sustainability transformations are substantially different from the Global South. This paper synthesises emerging insights on SES dynamics that can inform actions and advance research to support sustainability transformations specifically in the southern African context. The paper draws on work linked to members of the Southern African Program on Ecosystem Change and Society (SAPECS), a leading SES research network in the region, synthesizing key insights with respect to the five core themes of SAPECS: (i) transdisciplinary and engaged research, (ii) ecosystem services and human well-being, (iii) governance institutions and management practices, (iv) spatial relationships and cross-scale connections, and (v) regime shifts, traps and transformations. For each theme, we focus on insights that are particularly novel, interesting or important in the southern African context, and reflect on key research gaps and emerging frontiers for SES research in the region going forward. Such place-based insights are important for understanding the variation in SES dynamics around the world, and are crucial for informing a context-sensitive global agenda to foster sustainability transformations at local to global scales.

Item ID: 76590
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2639-5916
Keywords: ecosystem services, Elena Bennett, Global South, human well-being, SAPECS, social-ecological systems, transdisciplinarity, transformations
Copyright Information: © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2023 00:20
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4102 Ecological applications > 410203 Ecosystem function @ 100%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1899 Other environmental management > 189999 Other environmental management not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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