Carl Folke

Carl Folke
Kungliga Vetenskapsakademien | KVA

About

445
Publications
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155,782
Citations

Publications

Publications (445)
Article
Corporations are perceived as increasingly powerful and critically important to ensuring that irreversible climatological or ecological tipping points on Earth are not crossed. Environmental impacts of corporate activities include pollution of soils, freshwater and the ocean, depletion of ecosystems and species, unsustainable use of resources, chan...
Preprint
Sustainability is often framed as achieving prosperity, equality, and environmental integrity: in other words, high living standards, evenly-distributed, and low-impact. But what if there is a trilemma that inhibits the joint achievement of these three key goals? We analyzed synergies and tradeoffs between these dimensions of sustainability by inve...
Article
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Transformation toward a sustainable future requires an earth stewardship approach to shift society from its current goal of increasing material wealth to a vision of sustaining built, natural, human, and social capital—equitably distributed across society, within and among nations. Widespread concern about earth’s current trajectory and support for...
Article
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The increasing frequency of extreme events, exogenous and endogenous, poses challenges for our societies. The current pandemic is a case in point; but "once-in-a-century" weather events are also becoming more common, leading to erosion, wildfire and even volcanic events that change ecosystems and disturbance regimes, threaten the sustainability of...
Article
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The biosphere crisis requires changes to existing business practices. We ask how corporations can become sustainability leaders, when constrained by multiple barriers to collaboration for biosphere stewardship. We describe how scientists motivated, inspired and engaged with ten of the world’s largest seafood companies, in a collaborative process ai...
Article
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Humanity has never benefited more from the ocean as a source of food, livelihoods, and well-being, yet on a global scale this has been accompanied by trajectories of degradation and persistent inequity. Awareness of this has spurred policymakers to develop an expanding network of ocean governance instruments, catalyzed civil society pressure on the...
Article
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Ocean activities are rapidly expanding as Blue Economy discussions gain traction, creating new potential synergies and conflicts between sectors. To better manage ocean sectors and their development, we need to understand how they interact and the respective outcomes of these interactions. To provide a first comprehensive picture of the situation,...
Article
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Globally, financial services are well positioned to contribute to the transformation needed for sustainable futures and will be critical for supporting corporate activities that regenerate and promote biosphere resilience as a key strategy to confront the new risk landscape of the Anthropocene. While current financial risk frameworks focus primaril...
Article
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The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed an interconnected and tightly coupled globalized world in rapid change. This article sets the scientific stage for understanding and responding to such change for global sustainability and resilient societies. We provide a systemic overview of the current situation where people and nature are dynamically intertwine...
Article
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In this paper we conceptualize transformations as societal shifts from one basin of attraction to another. Such shifts occur when a society's information processing system is no longer fit to deal with the dynamics with which the society is involved. To understand when this might be the case, we conceive of a dynamic interaction between two domains...
Article
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Key insights on needs in urban regional governance - Global urbanization (the increasing concentration in urban settlements of the increasing world population), is a driver and accelerator of shifts in diversity, new cross-scale interactions, decoupling from ecological processes, increasing risk and exposure to shocks. Responding to the challenges...
Article
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The interdependence of social and ecological processes is broadly acknowledged in the pursuit to enhance human wellbeing and prosperity for all. Yet, development interventions continue to prioritise economic development and short-term goals with little consideration of social-ecological interdependencies, ultimately undermining resilience and there...
Chapter
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Over the past century, the total material wealth of humanity has been enhanced. However, in the twenty-first century, we face scarcity in critical resources, the degradation of ecosystem services, and the erosion of the planet’s capability to absorb our wastes. Equity issues remain stubbornly difficult to solve. This situation is novel in its speed...
Article
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Global environmental change challenges humanity because of its broad scale, long-lasting, and potentially irreversible consequences. Key to an effective response is to use an appropriate scientific lens to peer through the mist of uncertainty that threatens timely and appropriate decisions surrounding these complex issues. Identifying such corridor...
Article
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There are many calls to use the COVID 19 crisis as an opportunity for transforming to a future trajectory that is more equitable and environmentally sustainable. What is lacking is a cohesive framework for bringing these calls together. We propose that such transitions could be informed by lessons from three decades of scholarship on abrupt and sur...
Article
Climate change is reshaping the comparative advantage of regions and hence driving migration flows, principally toward urban areas. Migration has multiple benefits and costs in both origin and destination regions. Coordinated policies that recognize how and why people move can reduce future costs and facilitate adaptation to climate change both wit...
Article
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Limiting global warming to 2ºC or less relative to pre-industrial temperatures will require unprecedented rates of decarbonization globally. The scale and scope of transformational change required across sectors and actors in society raises critical questions of feasibility. Much of the literature on mitigation pathways addresses technological and...
Article
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Faced with accelerating environmental challenges, research on social-ecological systems is increasingly focused on the need for transformative change towards sustainable stewardship of natural resources. This paper analyses the potential of rapid, large-scale socio-political change as a window of opportunity for transformative change of natural res...
Conference Paper
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The corona pandemic has exposed the interconnected, tightly coupled and vulnerable globalised world. This White Paper sets the scientific stage for understanding and responding to such crises for global sustainability and resilient societies. We provide a systemic overview of the current situation; where people and nature are dynamically intertwine...
Article
Full-text available
Development of new biocides has dominated human responses to evolution of antibiotic and pesticide resistance. Increasing and uniform biocide use, the spread of resistance genes, and the lack of new classes of compounds indicate the importance of navigating toward more sustainable coevolutionary dynamics between human culture and species that evolv...
Article
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We consider two aspects of the human enterprise that profoundly affect the global environment: population and consumption. We show that fertility and consumption behavior harbor a class of externalities that have not been much noted in the literature. Both are driven in part by attitudes and preferences that are not egoistic but socially embedded;...
Article
Full-text available
Development of new biocides has dominated human responses to evolution of antibiotic and pesticide resistance. Increasing and uniform biocide use, the spread of resistance genes, and the lack of new classes of compounds indicate the importance of navigating toward more sustainable coevolutionary dynamics between human culture and species that evolv...
Article
Research practice, funding agencies and global science organizations suggest that research aimed at addressing sustainability challenges is most effective when ‘co-produced’ by academics and non-academics. Co-production promises to address the complex nature of contemporary sustainability challenges better than more traditional scientific approache...
Article
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Resilience is increasingly recognized as an imperative for any prospect of sustainable development, as it relates to our ability to sustain human well-being and progress under the planetary and societal changes that we face now and into the future. Yet, we are ill-prepared to meet this challenge. We neither fully understand nor manage consistently...
Article
The Anthropocene biosphere constitutes an unprecedented phase in the evolution of life on Earth with one species, humans, exerting extensive control. The increasing intensity of anthropogenic forces in the twenty-first century has widespread implications for attempts to govern both human-dominated ecosystems and the last remaining wild ecosystems....
Article
Much of the Earth’s biosphere has been appropriated for the production of harvestable biomass in the form of food, fuel and fibre. Here we show that the simplification and intensification of these systems and their growing connection to international markets has yielded a global production ecosystem that is homogenous, highly connected and characte...
Article
Human behaviour is of profound significance in shaping pathways towards sustainability. Yet, the approach to understanding human behaviour in many fields remains reliant on overly simplistic models. For a better understanding of the interface between human behaviour and sustainability, we take work in behavioural economics and cognitive psychology...
Article
Sustainability within planetary boundaries requires concerted action by individuals, governments, civil society and private actors. For the private sector, there is concern that the power exercised by transnational corporations generates, and is even central to, global environmental change. Here, we ask under which conditions transnational corporat...
Article
Over the past several decades, environmental governance has made substantial progress in addressing environmental change, but emerging environmental problems require new innovations in law, policy, and governance. While expansive legal reform is unlikely to occur soon, there is untapped potential in existing laws to address environmental change, bo...
Article
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Social-ecological systems (SES) are complex adaptive systems. Social-ecological system phenomena, such as regime shifts, transformations, or traps, emerge from interactions among and between human and nonhuman entities within and across scales. Analyses of SES phenomena thus require approaches that can account for (1) the intertwinedness of social...
Article
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The potential consequences of cross-scale systemic environmental risks with global effects are increasing. We argue that current descriptions of globally connected systemic risk poorly capture the role of human–environment interactions. This creates a bias towards solutions that ignore the new realities of the Anthropocene. We develop an integrated...
Article
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A growing body of empirical evidence is revealing the value of nature experience for mental health. With rapid urbanization and declines in human contact with nature globally, crucial decisions must be made about how to preserve and enhance opportunities for nature experience. Here, we first provide points of consensus across the natural, social, a...
Article
We have entered the urban century and addressing a broad suite of sustainability challenges in urban areas is increasingly key for our chances to transform the entire planet towards sustainability. For example, cities are responsible for 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions and, at the same time, 90% of urban areas are situated on coastlines, mak...
Article
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Radical recent developments such as Brexit, the rise of extreme nationalism, the gilets jaunes, polarizing leaders, the Arab Spring, and fundamentalist movements are indications of societal discontent with the status quo. Other societal phenomena such as gender fluidity, veganism, and bartering are also associated with a perceived need to change. T...
Chapter
Growth in human population and economic activity has dramatically transformed our planet since the Industrial Revolution. While driving significant improvements in human well-being, these forms of growth also deeply eroded the natural capital embodied in Earth’s lands, waters, and biodiversity. Rapid economic development has lifted hundreds of mill...
Chapter
The world is a complex moving target. The human dimension has accelerated into a major force driving the dynamics of the Earth system and, as it seems, into unfamiliar terrain beyond the glacial-interglacial dynamics of the last 1.2 million years (Steffen et al. 2018). There is definitely something new under the sun!
Article
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The relationship between art and science is one of contrasts and commonalities. We look at one commonality between art and science: the central role of iconic images. We argue that iconic images are the touchstone symbols in both art and science and provide similar functions for both. We propose that these iconic images provoke an openness and a re...
Article
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The study of social-ecological systems (SES) has been significantly shaped by insights from research on complex adaptive systems (CAS). We offer a brief overview of the conceptual integration of CAS research and its implications for the advancement of SES studies and methods. We propose a conceptual typology of six organizing principles of CAS base...
Article
Social-ecological systems (SES) research offers new theory and evidence to transform sustainable development to better contend with the challenges of the Anthropocene. Four insights from contemporary SES literature on (a) intertwined SES, (b) cross-scale dynamics, (c) systemic tipping points, and (d) transformational change are explored. Based on t...
Article
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We explore the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabilization of the climate at intermediate temperature rises and cause continued warming on a "Hothouse Earth" pathway even as human emissions are reduced. Crossing the threshold would lead to a much higher...
Preprint
Full-text available
Marine fish stock collapses are a major concern for scientists and society due to the potentially severe impacts on ecosystem resilience, food security and livelihoods. Yet the general state of harvested fish populations has proven difficult to summarize, and the actual occurrence rate of stock collapses remains unclear. We have carried out a liter...
Article
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Food lies at the heart of both health and sustainability challenges. We use a social-ecological framework to illustrate how major changes to the volume, nutrition and safety of food systems between 1961 and today impact health and sustainability. These changes have almost halved undernutrition while doubling the proportion who are overweight. They...
Article
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The ocean represents a fundamental source of micronutrients and protein for a growing world population. Seafood is a highly traded and sought after commodity on international markets, and is critically dependent on healthy marine ecosystems. A global trend of wild stocks being overfished and in decline, as well as multiple sustainability challenges...
Technical Report
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Achieving ocean sustainability is paramount for coastal communi es and marine industries, yet is also inextricably linked to much broader global sustainable development—including increased resilience to climate change and improved social equity—as envisioned by the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This report highlights the co-bene ts fr...
Article
Decades of overuse, misuse, and environmental antibiotic pollution has increased the global pool of resistant bacteria. With estimates of hundreds of thousands of annual human deaths and a lack of new drugs to replace old ones, antimicrobial resistance probably constitutes one of the greatest human health and sustainability challenges of the 21st c...
Article
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Marine ecosystem science has developed since the 1940s, when humans obtained the ability to spend substantial time underneath the surface of the ocean. Since then, and drawing on several decades of scientific advances, a number of exciting research frontiers have emerged. We find: Understanding interacting drivers of change, Identifying thresholds...
Article
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Indigenous peoples and local communities live in, manage and own vast areas often rich in biodiversity and critical for ecosystem services. Bridging indigenous and local knowledge systems with scientific knowledge systems is vital to enhance knowledge, practice, and ethics to move towards sustainability at multiple scales. We focus on international...
Article
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Resilience thinking in relation to the environment has emerged as a lens of inquiry that serves a platform for interdisciplinary dialogue and collaboration. Resilience is about cultivating the capacity to sustain development in the face of expected and surprising change and diverse pathways of development and potential thresholds between them. The...
Article
Anthropogenic changes to the Earth now rival those caused by the forces of nature and have shepherded us into a new planetary epoch – the Anthropocene. Such changes include profound and often unexpected alterations to coral reef ecosystems and the services they provide to human societies. Ensuring that reefs and their services endure during the Ant...
Article
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Climate change, biodiversity loss, antibiotic resistance, and other global challenges pose major collective action problems: A group benefits from a certain action, but no individual has sufficient incentive to act alone. Formal institutions, e.g., laws and treaties, have helped address issues like ozone depletion, lead pollution, and acid rain. Ho...