Stockholm Resilience Conference

 

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to participate at Stockholm Resilience Conference. The conference has been held on triennial bases since 2008 and discusses resilience as key lens for biosphere-based sustainability science. It aims to reflect on scientific progress that has been made and set out for future directions. The conference brought 1000 participants from all around the world, mainly academics.

As a former master student at Stockholm Resilience Centre, I helped with practical things at different seminars and events. A wonderful outcome of being schedule (and stuck in one room) was the interesting topics which I would normally not find as my key research areas. An example would be New York scientists talking about their research on urban climate adaptation and mitigation for resilient communities.

It reminds me of how effected humans already are and how adaptation must become a key-focus area in urban planning.

One of the seminars I really enjoyed was the Beatrice Crona (it’s interesting to see people live that you have used as references in your papers) talking about connectivity and cross-scale dynamic in the Anthropocene. She has done some research on the cross-scale nature of how natural resource trading links to local extraction patterns. An important research area for global transformation to sustainable use of ecological systems.

She shared some interesting figures where the rapid globalisation, with increased markets for specialisation has resulted in some worrying outcomes and trends:

The share of the top three banks increased from 10% to 40% between 1990-2008 in USA and from 50% to almost 80% between 1997-2008 in the UK.

 And it’s clear that there are key economic actors in key environmental areas that are about to reach their tipping point (see concept of planetary boundaries).

In the Amazon forest five companies are representing 52% of the export value of soya products. Three companies are representing 68% of the export value of beef products.

I see it both from a democratic and equality aspect. Inequality within countries are increasing, wouldn’t it then be more suitable to have several economic actors in the arena creating better competition and flexibility? It might also bring ownership towards the local people.

Another concern is how clearly the economic systems are not synchronised with the global biosphere system. There is no inclusion of external costs of how these companies are affecting local people’s livelihood, the global impact of climate change or the loss of biodiversity leading to ecosystem collapse.

It’s very expensive to re-vert changes and it also causes issues related to how to calculate the companies burden. Policy for changing the trends are essential for transiting to a sustainable world.

Another talk was done by Johan Colding opening his seminar with:

“Can society be destroyed by its own costs of sustaining itself?”

 In his work, with others, he has addressed the issue of smart cities, where the integration of digital technologies for the management of city functions promises great cost-effectiveness and efficiencies but also rises philosophical issues that must be addressed.

The resilience of internet is surely and interesting topic and my thoughts was mostly related to; what kind of urban cities do we want to create? How do we want people to feel? How can technology in smart cities lead to increased wellbeing of ecosystems and humans and just not as another way to be cost efficient in short terms?

To sum up I would like to share another sentence that was shared on a seminar regarding farmers’ perspective on their livelihood in times of climate change is:

“Definitely, there is a difference this years. It is a different as someone who has eaten compared to someone who as not eaten”.

Therefore, resilience and sustainability science if crucial. It matters for people here and now.