Research Articles (Centre for Complex Systems in Transition)

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    The voices of youth in envisioning positive futures for nature and people
    (Taylor & Francis, 2020-09) Rana, Sakshi; Avila-Garcia, Daniela; Dib, Viviane; Familia, Lemuel; Gerhardinger, Leopoldo Cavaleri; Martin, Emma; Martins, Paula Isla; Pompeu, Joao; Selomane, Odirilwe; Tauli, Josefa Isabel; Tran, Diem H. T.; Valle, Mireia; Von Below, Jonathan; Pereira, Laura M.
    The unpredictable Anthropocene poses the challenge of imagining a radically different, equitable and sustainable world. Looking 100 years ahead is not easy, and especially as millennials, it appears quite bleak. This paper is the outcome of a visioning exercise carried out in a 2-day workshop, attended by 33 young early career professionals under the auspices of IPBES. The process used Nature Futures Framework in an adapted visioning method from the Seeds of Good Anthropocene project. Four groups envisioned more desirable future worlds; where humanity has organised itself, the economy, politics and technology, to achieve improved nature-human well-being. The four visions had differing conceptualisations of this future. However, there were interesting commonalities in their leverage points for transformative change, including an emphasis on community, fundamentally different economic systems based on sharing and technological solutions to foster sustainability and human-nature connectedness. Debates included questioning the possibility of maintaining local biocultural diversity with increased connectivity globally and the prominence of technology for sustainability outcomes. These visions are the first step towards a wider galvanisation of youth visions for a brighter future, which is often missing in the arena where it can be taken seriously, to trigger more transformative pathways towards meeting global goals.
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    Impacts of a trophy hunting ban on private land conservation in South African biodiversity hotspots
    (Wiley, 2020-04-22) Parker, Kim; De Vos, Alta; Clements, Hayley S.; Biggs, Duan; Biggs, Reinette, 1979-
    Private land conservation areas (PLCAs) have become critical for achieving global conservation goals, but we lack understanding of how and when these areas respond to global pressures and opportunities. In southern Africa, where many PLCAs rely on trophy hunting as an income-generating strategy, a potential ban on trophy hunting locally or abroad holds unknown consequences for the future conservation of these lands. In this study, we investigate the consequences of a potential trophy hunting ban in PLCAs in two biodiversity hotspots in South Africa's Eastern and Western Cape provinces. We used semistructured interviews with PLCA managers and owners to elicit perceived impacts of an internationally imposed trophy hunting ban on conservation activities in PLCAs, and to probe alternative viable land uses. The majority of interviewees believed that both the economic viability of their PLCA and biodiversity would be lost following a hunting ban. Owners would primarily consider transitioning to ecotourism or livestock farming, but these options were constrained by the social-ecological context of their PLCA (e.g., competition with other PLCAs, ecological viability of farming). Our results suggest that a trophy hunting ban may have many unintended consequences for biodiversity conservation, national economies, and the livelihoods of PLCA owners and employees. Along with similar social-ecological studies in other areas and contexts, our work can inform policy decisions around global trophy hunting regulation.
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    Co-designing global target-seeking scenarios : a cross-scale participatory process for capturing multiple perspectives on pathways to sustainability
    (Elsevier, 2020-11) Aguiar, Ana Paula D.; Collste, David; Harmackova, Zuzana V.; Pereira, Laura; Selomane, Odirilwe; Galafassi, Diego; Van Vuuren, Detlef; Van Der Leeuw, Sander
    The United Nations 2030 Agenda catalysed the development of global target-seeking sustainability-oriented scenarios representing alternative pathways to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Implementing the SDGs requires connected actions across local, national, regional, and global levels; thus, target-seeking scenarios need to reflect alternative options and tensions across those scales. We argue that the design of global sustainability-oriented target-seeking scenarios requires a consistent process for capturing multiple and contrasting perspectives on how to reach the goals, including the perspectives from multiple scales (e.g. local, national, regional) and geographic regions (e.g. the Global South). Here we propose a novel approach to co-design global target-seeking scenarios, consisting of (a) capturing global perspectives on pathways to the SDGs through a review of existing global scenarios; (b) a multi-stakeholder process to obtain multiple sub-global perspectives on pathways to sustainability; (c) an analysis of convergences, and crucially, divergences between global and regional perspectives on pathways to reach the SDGs, feeding into the design of new target-seeking scenario narratives. As a case study, we use the results of the 2018 African Dialogue on The World in 2050, discussing the future of agriculture and food systems. The identified divergent themes emerging from our analysis included urbanization, population growth, agricultural practices, and the roles of different actors in the future of agriculture. The results challenge some of the existing underlying assumptions of the current sustainability-oriented global scenarios (e.g. population growth, urbanisation, agricultural practices), indicating the relevance and timeliness of the proposed approach. We suggest that similar approaches can be replicated in other contexts to better inform the process of sustainability-oriented scenario co-design across scales, regions and cultures. In addition, we highlight the implications of the approach for scenario quantification and the evolution of modeling tools.
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    Seeds of good anthropocenes : developing sustainability scenarios for Northern Europe
    (Springer Nature, 2019-07) Raudsepp-Hearne, C.; Peterson, G. D.; Bennett, E. M.; Biggs, R.; Norström, A. V.; Pereira, L.; Vervoort, J.; Iwaniec, D. M.; McPhearson, T.; Olsson, P.; Hichert, T.; Falardeau, M.; Aceituno, A. Jiménez
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Scenario development helps people think about a broad variety of possible futures; however, the global environmental change community has thus far developed few positive scenarios for the future of the planet and humanity. Those that have been developed tend to focus on the role of a few common, large-scale external drivers, such as technology or environmental policy, even though pathways of positive change are often driven by surprising or bottom-up initiatives that most scenarios assume are unchanging. We describe an approach, pioneered in Southern Africa and tested here in a new context in Northern Europe, to developing scenarios using existing bottom-up transformative initiatives to examine plausible transitions towards positive, sustainable futures. By starting from existing, but marginal initiatives, as well as current trends, we were able to identify system characteristics that may play a key role in sustainability transitions (e.g., gender issues, inequity, governance, behavioral change) that are currently under-explored in global environmental scenarios. We suggest that this approach could be applied in other places to experiment further with the methodology and its potential applications, and to explore what transitions to desirables futures might be like in different places.
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    Transformative spaces in the making : key lessons from nine cases in the Global South
    (Springer Nature, 2019-11) Pereira, Laura; Frantzeskaki, Niki; Hebinck, Aniek; Charli‑Joseph, Lakshmi; Drimie, Scott; Dyer, Michelle; Eakin, Hallie; Galafassi, Diego; Karpouzoglou, Timos; Marshall, Fiona; Moore, Michele‑Lee; Olsson, Per; Siqueiros‑García, J. Mario; Van Zwanenberg, Patrick; Vervoort, Joost M.
    ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Creating a just and sustainable planet will require not only small changes, but also systemic transformations in how humans relate to the planet and to each other, i.e., social–ecological transformations. We suggest there is a need for collaborative environments where experimentation with new configurations of social–ecological systems can occur, and we refer to these as transformative spaces. In this paper, we seek a better understanding of how to design and enable the creation of transformative spaces in a development context. We analyse nine case studies from a previous special issue on Designing Transformative Spaces that aimed to collect examples of cutting-edge action-oriented research on transformations from the Global South. The analysis showed five design phases as being essential: Problem Definition Phase; Operationalisation Phase; Tactical Phase; Outcome Phase; and Reflection Phase. From this synthesis, we distilled five key messages that should be considered when designing research, including: (a) there are ethical dilemmas associated with creating a transformative space in a sys- tem; (b) it is important to assess the readiness of the system for change before engaging in it; (c) there is a need to balance between ‘safe’ and ‘safe-enough’ spaces for transformation; (d) convening a transformative space requires an assemblage of diverse methodological frameworks and tools; and (e) transformative spaces can act as a starting point for institutionalising transformative change. Many researchers are now engaging in transdisciplinary transformations research, and are finding themselves at the knowledge–action interface contributing to transformative space-making. We hope that by analysing expe-riences from across different geographies we can contribute towards better understanding of how to navigate the processes needed for the urgent global transformations that are being called for to create a more equitable and sustainable planet Earth