Gunilla Almered Olsson

Professor Emerita

School of Global Studies
Visiting address
Konstepidemins väg 2
41314 Göteborg
Postal address
Box 700
40530 Göteborg

About Gunilla Almered Olsson

Professor in Human Ecology, University of Gothenburg since 2007. Guest Professor in Environmental Science, University of Karlstad, 2001-2003, and at the same university, Edberg Professor, 2001, ”Honorary Professor for interdisciplinary research bridging Social and Natural Sciences within the context of sustainable development and management of natural resources”. During 17 years I worked as Associate Professor in Plant and Landscape Ecology at Norwegian University for Science and Technology, NTNU, Trondheim, Norway, 1990-2007. PhD in Plant Ecology in 1984 at Lund University, Sweden. During 1989-2001 I also worked for Swedish governmental authorities and for United Nation Environmental Program, (UNEP), in Nairobi, on biological diversity and agricultural landscapes. Since its establishment in 1994 I am a member of Swedish Scientific Council of Biological Diversity with focus on the themes Sustainable Use, Agricultural landscapes and Traditional knowledge. I am a lead author to the research assessment of biological diversity and ecosystem services for United Nations Intergovernmental Panel for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) issued during 2018-19.

Research area My research interest is on human impact on rural and peri-urban ecosystems with a focus on land use, agricultural activities and food production while maintaining biological diversity and natural resources in a sustainability perspective. I have led and participated in a number of interdisciplinary research projects with this theme, in Europe and Africa, i.e. Madagascar, Uganda, Tanzania and Ivory Coast. .My interdisciplinary research collaboration (ecology, archeology, environmental history, geography) has continued since 1984. Examples are the mega research project The cultural landscape during 6000 in Sweden and several EU-projects. The projects BioScene EU FRP5; SECOA EU FRP 7 investigated structural changes in European agriculture and its impact on biodiversity and landscapes and on human livelihoods and economy, in mountain regions as well as in coastal city regions with climate change challenges, The research project EU-ERANET RETHINK, Rethinking the link between farm modernisation, rural development and resilience in a world of increasing demands and finite resources, is on sustainable food production in Europe (14 countries) where my group focuses on peri-urban land use, food production in peri-urban Hisingen, Gothenburg.

Academic activities Lecturing, teaching and supervision at all academic levels, over time with more focus on sustainaility issues on food systems, climate change and use of natural resources. Examples of such PhD- and master courses: Valuation of resources and environmental conflicts, The political ecology of land use; Global environmental challenges; Sustainability opportunities – Nexus of food, energy and climate; Sustainable development, conflicts, communication and collaboration. Supervision of 12 PhD- and 40 master students at Lund University, NTNU-Trondheim, universities in Antananarivo, Dar es Salaam, Butare, Karlstad and Gothenburg. I am external examinator for PhDdegrees in a number of universities in Scandinavia, external expert evaluator for academic positions and interdisciplinary research proposals for European Union, Sweden, Norway and for European environmental research centers; referee for 15 international scientific journals.

Present work Present research and activism is on food systems and food security bridging the rift between urban and rural regions with direct links to global sustainability issues and to transition movement. Here is included the climate challenge, sustainable use of natural resources and biodiversity, equity dimensions and global solidarity. I work within the transdisciplinary research platform Mistra Urban Futures and collaborate with researchers in Cape Town, South Africa, Kisumu, Kenya and Sheffield-Manchester, UK. The food system challenges lead the way to sustainability transition. I am initiator and chair of the network Urban Food – linking food system activities in research, management and practice in the Gothenburg Region. Within the Transition movement I work in the local network Transition-Kungälv where my focus is on climate and food system issues.  

Another core interest for me is the theme of human-nature, on use of ecosystems, responsibility, management, equity and values. This value loaded theme is directly related to food production, climate and transition to a sustainable future. I participate in the media debate on those issues by articles in newspapers and popular scientific talks. Member of advisory expert panel for SwedishSociety for Conservation of Nature.