Principle 3 Manage slow variables and feedbacks
Many social-ecological systems can exist in different self-organizing configurations or 'regimes'. Each of these configurations produces a different set of ecosystem services, with different consequences for different users. Changes in controlling slow variables can cause a system to shift from one regime to another if certain thresholds are exceeded and there is a change in dominat feedback processes in the social-ecological system. Such shifts are often associated with large, rapid changes in ecosystem services, and can have substantial impacts on human societies.
In other cases, feedbacks may trap a system in a regime that produces a very limited set of desired ecosystem services, and make it very difficult to shift the system to a different configuration. The importance of managing slow variables and feedbacks to maintain social-ecological regimes that produce desired bundles of ecosystem services, restore social-ecological systems to more desired configurations or transform the systems to entirely new configurations is widely acknowledged in the resilience literature. However, identifying and managing key slow variables and feedbacks to avoid system thresholds or facilitate systemic transformations is often difficult in practice.
Maintaining regulating ecosystem services as a proxy for managing slow variables may be one practical way forward. Other strategies focus on better understanding slow variables and feedbacks that underlie different social-ecological configurations, monitoring changes in slow variables and feedbacks, managing the strength of feedbacks and adressing missing feedbacks between drivers and impacts on ecosystem services.
Research news | 2021-10-16
Centre receives substantial research funding on sustainable food production
IKEA Foundation grants 30 million SEK for continued research on more sustainable and just food systems. Gullspång Invest and its subsidiary Gullspång Re:food contribute additional 5 million SEK
Research news | 2021-10-16
Beatrice Crona appointed professor in sustainability science
Deputy science director selected for newly established professorship in sustainability science with focus on sustainable food systems
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Low exposure to green areas may lead to higher rates of COVID-19 cases
New analysis links COVID-19 to nature inequity, showing communities of color face starkest burden
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How cities play a crucial role in the transition to a carbon-free world
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New MOOC on how to deal with the climate crisis
Learn how to drive the social change that is fundamentally required for an effective response to climate change
Research news | 2021-09-29
Ready for anything
Centre theme leader Cibele Queiroz explains why diversity is important in turbulent times