Photo: U.Grünbaum/Azote

Photo: M. Edström/Azote

Urban social-ecological systems

This theme looks at linkages between ecosystem services, biodiversity, societies and humankind in an urban context

The world is urbanizing at an unprecedented rate. In the near future it is prospected that urban landscapes converted for approximately 2.7 billion more people will be built. This is equivalent to the size of South Africa. The ‘urban’, both our cities and its manifestations in new life styles and worldviews, is now a global factor pushing at and interacting with the biosphere at all scales. As necessary parts of biosphere stewardship, cities need to provide better governance of social-ecological systems both inside and outside their physical and administrative boundaries. Linkages -between cities, cities and their support systems, actors and sectors - are central both for new, emerging vulnerabilities and strategies for building resilience.

People in cities, as elsewhere, must deal with an uncertain future shaped by globalization, climate change and loss of biological diversity. ‘Dealing ‘with’ requires strategies, and one important aspect of these is to make use of or actively trying to harness the potential of green infrastructure for providing solutions to various problems and challenges. For this to really work, such nature based solutions must include multiple dimensions, including for example on institutional and spatial designs that support self-organizing, learning processes and equal opportunities to become involved, psychological processes towards broad based environmental learning, and alignment of the scales and dimensionality of problems and management solutions.

The research on urban social-ecological systems generate knowledge in relation to above challenges and draws on methods and theories from a wide span of fields in sustainability science that, among others, include systems and landscape ecology, sociology and institutional theory, environmental history, transformation theory, actor-network approaches. We also have close collaborations with many international partners, universities as well as non-academic, and we are actively engaged in international networks like Future Earth. In Sweden, we collaborate closely with the Urban Studio at the University of Gävle, Sweden.

The theoretical premises behind our research are based on studies of how to build resilience in multidimensional and seamlessly interlinked social-ecological systems. We aim to advance urban resilience science by improving understanding of how we can design urban systems with an ability to more proactively deal, across scales, with both known and uncertain future outcomes. Urban resilience building in this sense should be understood as the outcome of a process that includes a more proactive anticipation, experimentation, learning, and adaptation to changing circumstances and novel events.

Theme contacts




Live Baltic Campus

Live Baltic Campus aims at developing campuses as innovation hubs by creating better urban environment for businesses and residents. The idea is to support participative urban planning which is adopted by the cities involved as part of their normal work. Read more here

Augmented Urbans

The project explores how urban planning and design in the Central Baltic region can generate more resilient, sustainable urban areas. Of particular interest is Extended Reality (XR) technologies, which includes Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality (VR, AR, and MR, respectively). Read more here

Stockholm Resilience Centre is a collaboration between Stockholm University and the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

Stockholm Resilience Centre
Stockholm University, Kräftriket 2B
Phone: +46 8 674 70 70

Organisation number: 202100-3062
VAT No: SE202100306201