New grants open up new horizons for 2019

The end of 2018 was full of pleasant surprises and subsequent celebrations when notice of successful grant applications to Swedish and EU funding bodies trickled in. It was an amazing and unexpected success that enables us to continue and expand our collaborative research on the dynamics of social-ecological systems, secure salaries of team members and open up possibilities for new collaborations within SRC and beyond. The new projects span a range from the theoretical foundations of social-ecological systems to on the ground research on resilience and sustainable development in developing countries. This fits nicely with SESLINK’s aim to develop practice-informed theory and theory-informed practice in an iterative manner.

Before leaving into the winter break we want to provide a brief outlook of the new exciting projects and collaborations that we look forward to in the next year:

LimnoScenES – social-ecological scenarios for biodiversity and ecosystem service in temperate freshwater ecosystems

Romina Martin and Maja Schlüter will lead the LimnoScenES project which aims to develop stylized simulation models of human-freshwater interactions as inter- and transdisciplinary boundary objects for the governance of freshwater biodiversity and as tools for transformative learning. We will work with partners from the University of Lund, the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) in Berlin, the Université du Québec à Montréal who will take care of the ecological foundation and the University of Osnabrück for the social science on water governance. We are excited to learn more about the case studies Ringsjön in Southern Sweden, Dümmer in Northern Germany and Lac St. Charles in Québec and what they have to offer for transformational learning in freshwater management. The kick-off will be in late February and we are looking forward to report further on our website, twitter @limnoscenes, and here of course. LimnoScenES is a BiodivERsA / Belmont Forum project from 2019-2021, with total funding of 1.8 Mio €.

AgentEx: Climate change – from the small-scale fisher’s point of view. Identifying critical multi-level processes for sustainable small-scale fisheries.

Small-scale fisheries (SSF) are often referred to as traditional, artisanal, low-tech, labour intensive, low capital operations that contribute about 50% to the global fish catch and jobs for millions of people. They are vulnerable to climate change effects, e.g. changes in abundance, variability and predictability of fish stocks. Climate change places fishers in a new situation, i.e. increased ecological uncertainty. The ability of fishers to deal with this new situation will crucially depend on their capacity to adapt individually and collectively, which in turn is affected by how fishers perceive this new situation individually and collectively. However, we know little about the interplay between cooperation and sustainable resource use in this new situation. To study these interactions holistically, we use agent-based modelling to represent, simulate and analyse the role and effect of individual and situational heterogeneity on multiple levels. For data on perceptions, cooperation and resource use of fishers in fishery communities, this project is deeply connected to behavioural field experiments that will be performed in its sister-projects (FORMAS – BEST project and VR reACTion project). The grant will support collaboration between Nanda Wijermans, Maja Schlüter (SRC) and Caroline Schill and Therese Lindahl (Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics). AgentEx is funded by a Formas Future Research Leaders grant to Nanda Wijermans (3 Mio SEK)

CauSES – Approaches to causation in the social and natural sciences and their implications for theory building in sustainability science

CauSES will bring together researchers from the social and natural sciences and philosophy to analyze and compare approaches to causation from different natural and social science disciplines and investigate their implications for the study of complex, intertwined SES. The work will be carried out by SESLINKers Maja Schlüter, María Mancilla García, Tilman Hertz and Emilie Lindkvist in collaboration with the Institute of Analytical Sociology (Linköping University), the Department of Philosophy (Uppsala University) and the Department of Ecological Modelling (UFZ-Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Leipzig/Halle, Germany). We will combine multiple methods including philosophical analysis, empirical analysis, network and agent-based modelling in an iterative way to assess causal concepts and their combinations from five different fields. CauSES aims to create an interdisciplinary research environment that brings together fields that rarely intersect to build a foundation for deeper understanding of social-ecological problems and their governance. It is funded by the Swedish Research Council (VR) for 4 years with a total of 18,5 million SEK

CoEvolution – Development as co-evolution: How can resilience inform sustainable development in biocultural landscapes?

Jamila Haider received a 3-year international postdoc grant from the Swedish Research Council (VR) to investigate how to shape or enable development pathways in biocultural landscapes that build on and maintain sustainable co-evolutionary processes. She will do so by comparing two case studies of biocultural landscapes in the mountains of Austria and the Pamir Mountains in Tajikistan. Jamila will work in collaboration with the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU) and the Central Asian University in Khorog, Tajikistan.

FoRel – Forum theatre to enhance joint agency in Kenya and Mozambique: towards relational understandings of climate change

Maria Mancilla Garcia and Tilman Hertz from SES-LINK together with Tim Daw (SRC) received approx 5,5 million SEK from the Swedish Research Council (VR) to study how coastal communities in Kenya and Mozambique deal with interlinked economic, political and climate related challenges. Their 3-year project will use forum theater to explore social-ecological relations and to what extent they enhance or hinder communities’ wellbeing and the sustainability of the social-ecological systems they are embedded in. Other partners in the project are Marlino Mumbai and Salomão Bandeira from Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Mozambique; Nyawira Muthiga and Caroline Abunge from Wildlife Conservation Society and Halimu Shauri from Pwani University in Kenya.

Octo – Navigating the complexity of small-scale fishery interventions: An intersection of agent-based modeling and participatory empirical research

Emilie Lindkvist (PI) with Elizabeth Drury O’Neill, Tim Daw, Maja Schlüter, Rosemarie Mwaipopo and Andrew Wamukota received 5,6 million SEK by VR (with Formas, Sida, and Forte) for their project “Navigating the complexity of small-scale fishery interventions: An intersection of agent-based modeling and participatory empirical research”. This collaborative project will harness the potential of co-developed social-ecological models and case studies to synthesize local expertise, understand key mechanisms, explore long- and short-term outcomes and socially differentiated impacts. The scientific novelty draws on the intersection of three emerging fields, the role of gender in small-scale fisheries, the use of agent-based models to explore social differentiation and resilience, and participatory approaches that support iterative, collaborative learning. The project will 1) develop transdisciplinary research feeding learning into intervention implementations through partners and broader networks and 2) identify key mechanisms that underlie sustainable outcomes in SSF to move towards contextualized explanations of key sustainability issues. The project builds on the case study “temporal octopus closures” in the Western Indian Ocean (Tanzania/Zanzibar) together with local NGOs.