www.esf.org/conferences/10339

Co-Chairs: Prof. Marja J. Spierenburg, VU University Amsterdam, NL & Prof. Rashid M. Hassan, Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy in Africa, ZA

Human wellbeing and the Earth system on which it depends are in transition involving complex dynamic interactions and feedbacks. Global changes include profound alterations of ecosystems and the services they provide to humanity. Drivers of environmental change are likely to intensify as human population grows and consumption expands. Some of the changes to the Earth system have improved access for millions of people to food, water, and other services satisfying basic human needs. On the other hand, unintended consequences from these changes threaten food security, energy security, human health, livelihoods and other aspects of our wellbeing. Deeper understanding and awareness of these changes and the underlying social-ecological systems' interactions enhances our capacity for remedial and corrective action and offers hope of effective response. The challenge of sustainable development is to grasp this opportunity and transform social-ecological systems to provide food, water, energy, health and human security in a manner that is economically, ecologically and socially viable for people in all parts of the world in the current timeframe, and for many generations in the future.

Recognition of the urgent need for actions to sustain achieved gains in human wellbeing without compromising capacity of ecosystems to provide for future generations is very high in the current agenda of global policy fora and agencies (e.g. CBD, World Food Summit, Diversitas Congress, IUCN, UNESCO and others) and other regional and national actors and stakeholders in sustainable development. We seem to be at a crucial juncture where science, technology, policy and other communities can begin to work together to achieve more favorable planetary conditions. A great diversity of institutional arrangements, policies and practices have been proposed to achieve these goals. Yet many challenges remain on how to choose among the many options. Success and failure appear to be context-specific and no particular policy or practice is likely to solve all problems, in all places and times. At present, there are critical gaps in our knowledge of the social, biological, biogeochemical and physical foundations needed to make decisions for a sustainable future.

Inspired by ICSU's new Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society, the goal of the ESF Research Conference is to exchange experiences that will help us begin to understand transformations toward or away from sustainable development, including measures for eradication of poverty and halting environmental degradation.

The conference focus will be on comparing findings of research that studies social-ecological systems' interactions associated with specific landscapes, seascapes or coastal regions. There is remarkable geographic variability in policies, practices and outcomes for management of natural capital, flows of ecosystem services, and human outcomes. Invited speakers and presenters will be drawn from a range of disciplines, research approaches and findings based on diverse sources of information including narrative, qualitative and quantitative data and historical records in addition to more traditional technical monitoring tools and remote sensing.


List of Invited Speakers according to the theme (to be completed):
SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS AND ECOSYSTEM CHANGES:
Arun Agrawal - University of Michigan, US
James Murombedzi - tbc

MANAGING TRADEOFFS BETWEEN MULTIPLE ECOSYSTEM SERVICES:
Line Gordon - Stockholm Resilience Centre, SE
Belinda Reyers - CSIR, SA

RESILIENCE AND VULNERABILITY OF SOCIAL AND ECOSYSTEMS TO CLIMATE CHANGE:
Anantha Duraiappah - United Nation Environment Programme
Brian Walker - tbc

BIODIVERSITY, ECOSYSTEM CHANGE AND HUMAN WELLBEING:
Thembela Kepe - University of Toronto, CA
Charles Perrings - Arizona State University, US

DRIVERS OF ECOSYSTEM AND SOCIAL CHANGE:
Eduardo Brondizio - Indiana University, US
Bruce Campbell - tbc
Peter Minang - CGIAR, US

Some grants available for early stage researchers to cover the conference fee and possibly part of the travel costs. Grant requests should be made by ticking appropriate field(s) in the paragraph "Grant application" of the application form.

Further information

Full conference programme accessible online from www.esf.org/conferences/10339.

ESF contact for further information: Alessandra Piccolotto - apiccolotto at esf.org

Closing date for applications: 8 July 2010.

This conference is organised by the European Science Foundation (ESF), in partnership with the International Council for Science (ICSU).