Steering board and leadership
The steering board consists of representatives from each of our 18 partner organisations. The steering board works closely with the centre's director and project coordinator. Together, the steering board and leadership develop and implement the GGBC's vision, ensuring maximum impact in accelerating biodiversity research and knowledge.
GGBC Steering board
Marie Stenseke (Chair of the GGBC Steering Board)
Marie Stenseke is a professor in human geography at the Departement of Economy and Society. Her research concerns biodiversity, nature conservation and landscape management from a social science perspective.
We’re happy to have you as our new chair of the GGBC steering group, Marie. We see this as an opportunity to better incorporate aspects of biodiversity work beyond the natural sciences within the GGBC. What is your vision regarding this?
Thanks, I am happy to intensify my engagement in GGBC! GGBC provides a unique interface between science and partners working with knowledge production and knowledge transfer by other means. In my vision, GGBC, with a broader range of expertise and also increased interaction between its partners and members, will significantly contribute to enhancing biodiversity in West Sweden and elsewhere in the world. Following the GGBC's mission statement Biodiversity awareness through research and outreach, there is a great potential in bringing in more partners and members with solid scientific knowledge on human perceptions, norms and behaviours and the logics of business as well as on e.g. welfare aspects associated with biological diversity, legal, economic and communicative instruments and spatial planning.
An initial short-term vision is that there will be a clear strategy for GGBC 2023-2025 at place by the end of this year, resulting from a constructive and inclusive process during coming months.
If you could dream wildly, what would you like to see the GGBC achieve in the next three years ?
Not sure about my capability to be wild, but I would like to see the following:
- Fruitful win-win interactions between researchers and non-academic partners in GGBC, leading to joint activities, including increased research that provides important knowledge and improved outreach
- The establishment of new groups/platforms to enhance knowledge generation, as well as interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary interactions. I could think of the following: one on Business and biodiversity – building on the network that has already started at the School of Business, Economics and Law; one on Social sciences and Humanities in order to strengthen those perspectives on biodiversity; and one on Interdisciplinarity, to stimulate interactions and overcoming the disciplinary hurdles for addressing the complex problems.
- Increased and improved strategic interactions between GGBCs outreach-focused partner organisations
Your role as Co-chair of the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel of Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has recently ended. What are some of the most important lessons you take with you from this experience?
The most important lesson I bring with me from IPBES is the global perspective in a broad sense. It has meant profound insights in the immensely different social and ecological conditions and contexts all over the world and a humbleness (I would like to think) that keeps me from taking for granted how and why people and businesses in different places and regions interact with the rest of nature. It has, however, also given me insights into how the world is interlinked. The global challenges are indeed integrated and indivisible as stated in Agenda 2030, which is why the loss of biodiversity must not be seen or treated as a stand-alone problem. The IPBES global report shows that the loss of biodiversity and human impacts on ecosystem functions has made the world more unequal over the last 50 years. The great expansion since 1970 in the production of food, feed, fibre and bioenergy, has meant increasing benefits to those that are already economically privileged, while the cost has been largely paid by poor and marginalised people in terms of degraded living environments, degraded ecosystems loss of species richness.
Secondly, I have learnt the need to acknowledge plural epistemologies and also some skills how to work towards that. I would like to think that those skills will prove useful in my engagement with GGBC. It is a recognition that we need to seek common grounds to address the many ‘wicked problems’ related to biodiversity loss. This implies an openness to different knowledge approaches, an increased awareness about how disciplines and knowledge holders far from ones own work and contribute to addressing the loss of biodiversity and how to change the negative trends. It has been quite visible in IPBES that there is a special need to better understand and incorporate contributions from social sciences and humanities. There is much of ‘social science light’, done by natural science experts with good intentions that realise the need for including human dimensions, but not recognizing all that has been done in social sciences and humanities already, nor how to build on previous research and established knowledge in those scientific strands.
Marie Stenseke, Professor in Human Geography at the Department of Economy and Society. Can you tell us a bit about some biodiversity research that is going on in your department?
The department hosts three disciplines, but we have a joint research group, Landscape and Planning, with researchers broadly concerned with the interactions between human activities and the environment, seen from a landscape perspective. Per Hallén, Economic history, is doing research on the green areas of Gothenburg, their history and use. Per is also studying the role of fish and fishery in the human society and how that has developed over time. Several of us are human geographers, and at present we are working in projects concerned with: parks and green areas, blue-green infrastructure and nature’s contributions to people in cities (Mattias Sandberg, Shelley Kotze); Sustainable reacreational use of land and water in Mistra Sport&Outdoors (Andreas Skriver Hansen, Marie Stenseke, Oskar Abrahamsson); integrated framework for assessing the consequences of human activities for water quality and biodiversity, EU-funded (Andreas Skriver Hansen, Marie Stenseke). Over the years, we have also had a number of projects on semi-natural pastures, landscape management, marine spatial planning, children and nature). At the same time as we work with mainly qualitative methods, of our research is interdisciplinary and the projects carried out together with scholars in natural sciences.
Your department is the first one from outside of the Faculty of Science at GU to join the GGBC. You are a huge proponent of the benefits of working in an interdisciplinary way. What do you see as the biggest potential benefit of bringing together the natural sciences with the humanities and social sciences?
Since the contemporary global challenges are complex and interrelated, interdisciplinary cooperations are fundamental for the academia in order to provide knowledge about sustainable ways forward. We need to pair knowledge on the character and magnitude of environmental problems, status and trends with knowledge of socioeconomic drivers, governance, trade, business, how various groups are affected, justice, behaviour, values, norms etc. to come up with robust solutions. This does not mean that all research has to be interdisciplinary. It is crucially important to recognize and make transparent the difficulties with interdisciplinary work that has to be handled. A couple of key issue are lack of understandings of the differences between various scientific strands and lack of insights in what research is ongoing in other faculties. Bringing together scholars from different disciplines, can cure these deficits and build stronger sustainability research together more thoroughly based in previous research.
You are also the Co-chair, Multidisciplinary Expert Panel of Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services (IPBES). How has your time within IPBES influenced your own approach to biodiversity research?
My time in IPBES has certainly increased my interest in how to improve interdisciplinary work in biodiversity research. The issues and challenges I have encountered on this global arena are very similar to the ones I had previously experienced in a more narrow Swedish context. I have developed my insights and strengthened my arguments when it comes to why, when and how to include competences from social science and humanities in biodiversity research, naturally recognizing that scholars from social science and humanities, like myself, also fits to the label ‘biodiversity researchers’.
Marina Antonina Zoe Panova, Centre for Sea and Society, University of Gothenburg
Marina is a co-director of the Centre for Sea and Society hosted at the Dept. of Marine Sciences at the University of Gothenburg. Her research focuses on molecular mechanisms and evolution of adaptations in natural populations.
Welcome to the GGBC steering group, Marina. Could you tell us a bit about your background and your new role as co-director of Centre for Sea and Society?
Thank you! For many years I worked in evolutionary genomics. Then a few years back I changed the focus to developing environmental DNA tools for monitoring biodiversity, i.e. much more applied research. It involves many interactions outside academia, which is very stimulating and helps me to look at my research from another angle. My role in the Centre for Sean and Society is, together with the co-director Per Knutsson, to strengthen the collaboration across the disciplines (that is why we are two, representing natural and social sciences) and to further develop the marine research at GU. Personally, I want to inspire more natural science researchers to look ”outside the box” and try collaboration across the disciplines.
We are also excited to be sitting with you in Bioteket! What are your impressions of the shared Sea & Society / GGBC working space?
The best place in the building! I always get in a good mood when I enter Bioteket in the morning. Somehow it has such a great atmosphere of creativity, curiosity and collaboration, and at the same time it makes me remember why we do what we do – because we love and want to save nature.
What are some of the major projects focusing on biodiversity at Sea and Society?
All our members’ research is about the sea and therefore is related to marine biodiversty, but from different perspectives. For example, some projects focus om genetic diversity and ecological role of commercial fish species, while other look at cultural, economic and legal aspects of fishing industries. I’d like to highlight two directions developing within the Sea and Society: sea food and farming, as well as ocean literacy. Both address urgent societal problems in an integrated and innovative way.
Sea and Society has done an excellent job of bringing together very different disciplines around your core foci. Are there any particular actions that you feel Sea and Society has taken that have really brought people from different areas together to tackle new research questions?
I believe that inter-disciplinary collaborations develop naturally when we set to work together on a common clearly defined task. A good example is our cross-disciplinary Master program in Sea and Society where we have teachers from five faculties. It can also be work on important policy documents related to the ocean, or creating fun outreach public activities! We learn to understand each other's way of thinking and conducting research as well as develop a cross-disciplinary language, which later leads to new innovative research projects.
Åsa Arrhenius, Dept. of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Gothenburg
Åsa is the head of the Dept. of Biological and Environmental Sciences at the University of Gothenburg. Her research background is in environmental science with a focus on ecotoxicology and the effects of mixtures or so-called chemical cocktails.
Welcome to the GGBC steering group, Åsa. Could you tell us a bit about your background and your new role as the head of BioEnv, GGBC’s host department?
My background is in biology and environmental sciences. My research focus has been on ecotoxicology, i.e. how toxic chemicals affect organisms. My research has mainly been on microbial communities and how the biodiversity can be affected by e.g. antifouling agents, pharmaceuticals and mixtures thereof. After finishing my PhD and some postdoc time, I have now worked as principle research engineer for 10 years. The position has included many different tasks around research, teaching and outreach – the three important responsibilities we have at the University. The last six years I have served as coordinator of the FRAM center, the Centre for Future Chemical Risk Assessment and Management Strategies at University of Gothenburg.
I started as head of BioEnv from April 1st and it is indeed a challenging and rewarding task. I learn new things every day and try to live up to expectations that come with the assignment. Being part of GGBCs steering group is indeed a interesting part of the new job.
You have been a part of another important centre hosted at BioEnv for many year: FRAM. It is no secret that chemicals in the environment affect biodiversity. Can you tell us about some of the initiatives that researchers at BioEnv and FRAM are working on to better understand how chemicals affect our planet?
There are several ongoing projects that focus on different types of chemicals (pharmaceuticals, pesticides, biocides, industrial chemicals and more) and particles (both smaller ones, such as nanoparticles, and larger ones, such as microplastics). It sheds light on all biological levels; genes, cell, individuals, populations, communities and ecosystems, and different environments, mainly aquatic. It focuses not only on potential effects of exposure to a single compound and/or mixtures but includes also monitoring studies in the field to follow trends of effects due to pollutants in the environment. How organisms could be used for bioremediation is also a pressing research question. Another important part of the ongoing research at BioEnv and FRAM is within chemical risk assessment were we evaluate chemical risks (in particular associated with chemical mixtures) to enable a safe and sustainable use of chemicals.
At FRAM we work in different parts of the world to study effects in different types of ecosystems but also different chemical management systems. Chemicals do not see borders and hence there is a need for global action. FRAM has been active in the efforts to establish an International Panel on Chemical Pollution (IPCP) similar to IPCC. The aim is to increase global awareness of the chemical cocktail humans and the environment are exposed to and to fill critical gaps in the communication between science, policy and the public.
How does BioEnv benefit from being a host institution to centres such as FRAM and GGBC? What role do you see that the centres play in connecting BioEnv with the rest of GU and society at large?
BioEnv as a department benefits from the funding brought in by the centres, and with more funding more important research can be done. Importantly, the activities around the centers are not only research but a lot more. All the regular seminars, workshops, courses, and different events that the centers organize are something both we as a colleagues but also our students benefit a lot from. It makes BioEnv an interesting workplace for us and others.
The centers at the University play an important role in connecting faculties, departments, other organizations and the society. They bring together different types of expertise and contribute to a deeper understanding of ourselves and our planet. They accelerate visions and solutions for a sustainable development. I cannot see that any part alone can bring all the answers so the centers provide the necessary links or bridges to other research environments and the society at large.
Mattias Lindholm, Västkuststiftelsen
Mattias is Västkuststiftelsen's new head of nature conservation. He has obtained his PhD working on the ecology of heathland communities.
Welcome to the GGBC steering group Mattias and congratulations on your new role at Västkuststiftelsen. You’re not new to the GGBC though! Could you tell us more about your career path and this new assignment?
It's true that I'm not completely new to this. I have been an active member of GGBC both when I was a doctoral student at GU and in my position as a conservation biologist at the Gothenburg Museum of Natural History. In the past, I have also worked as a nature conservation consultant with a focus on the protection and management of western Swedish nature areas. In my new position as head of nature conservation at Västkuststiftelsen, I will have overall responsibility for the nature conservation work in the nature reserves that we manage.
With all your applied biodiversity work experience here on the West Coast of Sweden, are there any specific new directions you would like to explore with Västkuststiftelsen?
We will work more with large-scale nature conservation measures such as burning of forest for conservation and restoration of wetlands. Fire is a natural element in the forest landscape and there are many species that either benefit or are directly dependent on the forest burning. Here we will experience positive landscape effects for biological diversity, which will be very exciting to follow up.
How does partnership in GGBC help Västkuststiftelsen strengthen its work towards its mission?
Our membership in GGBC enables us to be close to the research. The circumstances are changing ever faster for biological diversity and it is important that we have up-to-date and relevant knowledge when carrying out our nature conservation measures.
Hanna Tornevall, Gothenburg Botanical Garden
Hanna is the director of Gothenburg Botanical Garden. She has a background in environmental science with extensive strategic experience from various roles in industry, government and academia-related activities.
Welcome to the GGBC and the Botanical Garden Hanna!
- What has surprised you the most about the garden so far?
I am constantly surprised and amazed when walking around the garden. I discover new beautiful places every time! I think that is the uniqueness of Gothenburg Botanical Garden – it is so big and with such a variety of habitats and climate zones that you always have something new to find.
- What do you see as the biggest challenges for your work as the new director in the coming months and years?
We are in the process of building new greenhouses, which is fantastic but also challenging. We will try to do this without negatively affecting our visitors and the normal activities in the garden, but it will be a challenging time. However, I am sure the end result will be well worth it!
- You are on the GGBC steering board now. What do you look forward to the most in terms of partnership in GGBC?
Biodiversity loss is a so called “wicked problem” which – to put it simply - means that we do not have a quick and easy solution to it and it affects all of society. It is difficult to know what decisions need to be taken to really influence actions of different stakeholder, in order to stop biodiversity loss (and not create more problems). I am really looking forward to working in the GGBC steering board; together we generate well needed knowledge, we can take actions and evaluate effects. The GGBC partners cover many different aspects of the issue of biodiversity loss and the solutions that need to be put in place. It is such an important partnership!
Ulrika Palme, Environmental Systems Analysis, Chalmers University of Technology
Ulrika is a senior lecturer at the Chamers University of Technology with research and teaching topics including impacts on biodiversity from land use. She finished her MSc in biology at the University of Gothenburg in 1992, and her PhD in environmental systems analysis at Chalmers University of Technology in 2007.
Stefan Örgård, Gothenburg Natural History Museum
Stefan is the Museum Director at the Gothenburg Natural History Museum. He has an education in marine ecology and has a long experience in communication science.
Helen Sköld, Havets Hus
Helen is the aquarium manager at Havets His located in Lysekil as well as an associate professor in marine zoology at the University of Gothenburg.
Claes Persson, Herbarium GB
Claes is lecturer and director of the Herbarium at the University of Gothenburg where he, in 1998, received a PhD in systematic botany. Claes is chief-editor of the Flora of Ecuador and his research is focused on the systematics of South American Rubiaceae (the coffee family), a group he has studied for nearly three decades.
Matthias Obst, Dept. of Marine Sciences, University of Gothenburg
Matthias is an Associate professor in Marine biology at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. He has 16 years of experience as an academic researcher, infrastructure developer, and project manager in the marine environmental sector. Matthias is especially interested in building observation systems for biological diversity in the ocean.
Robert Björk, Dept. of Earth Sciences, University of Gothenburg
Robert is a senior lecturer at the Dept. of Earth Sciences at the University of Gothenburg. His work focuses on plant community dynamics to greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial systems, focusing mainly on the tundra environment.
Björn Källström, Maritime Museum and Aquarium, Gothenburg
Björn is the development leader at the Maritime museum and Aquarium in Gothenburg currently leading the reconstruction of the new aquarium. He is also involved in havet.nu and engaged in a lot of public education. Björn is the leader of the research working group in GGBC.
Håkan Sigurdsson, Universeum
Håkan is the Scientific Director at Universeum. He has a PhD in biophysics from University of Stockholm and a MSc in physics from Chalmers. He has been working with science communication at Universeum since 2008 and before that in the industry of life science and it-technology.
Mats Höggren, Nordens Ark
Mats is the director/CEO of Nordens Ark, a Swedish non-profit foundation dedicated to the preservation of endangered wildlife. He has a background in biology, with a PhD in genetics from Uppsala University.
Linda Thelin, Slottsskogens Djurpark
Linda works as a zoological curator at Slottsskogen zoo. She has a background in biology, pedagogics and nature interpretation. Linda also works for other organizations, and the common factor for all assignments is that they aim to increase commitment to biodiversity and sustainability issues.
John Munthe, IVL - Swedish Environmental Research Institute
John Munthe is the vicepresident of research at IVL and program manager for Mistra SafeChem - an initiative that supports sustainable chemical industry in Sweden.
Hi John Munthe, Vice President, Research at IVL. Tell us what IVL is, and how its work is connected to the environment and more specifically, biodiversity.
IVL was formed more than 50 years ago in an agreement between industry and the government with the aim to provide research and consulting services to solve the severe environmental problems of that time – mainly related to industrial emissions to air and water from energy and industry sectors. Today we are an institute with over 300 employees working on environment and sustainability. We still combine research and consulting with the aim to make a difference and contribute to a sustainable society.
Could you give us an example of a project that's currently going on at IVL relating to biodiversity?
In the research program Mistra Digital Forest we are developing the tool BioMapp for analysis and visualisation of sustainability aspects in forest value chains. A key challenge is to develop and apply indicators for biodiversity and to describe how it is affected by forest management and harvest on a landscape scale. We are also engaged in projects focussed on ecosystem services and biodiversity in urban areas and providing assessments and evaluations for industry and authorities.
And you personally: what does biodiversity mean to you and how is it a part of your work?
I am convinced that a sustainable world is dependent on a “healthy” biodiversity and that we need to work hard to avoid further degradation and loss of species and functions in our ecosystems. I also see a lot of research challenges for example related to how human activities affect biodiversity and to define and set targets for a “healthy” biodiversity. A lot is already known but this knowledge needs to be further developed and synthesised so that it can be used broadly in environmental management activities and to develop measures and plans.
GGBC brings together people working on biodiversity in different ways from a diverse set of partner organisations. What new perspectives do you expect you and your colleagues at IVL will bring to the GGBC?
The partners in GGBC represent a very impressive and broad expertise on biodiversity and our contribution will hopefully be to support and develop how this knowledge and expertise can be put to use and applied in planning and managing use of natural resources and societal development. We are very much focussed on applied research and I hope that our experience in this area will also be of benefit to GGBC.
Paula Bäckman, Naturbruksförvaltningen
Paula is an area manager at Naturbruksförvaltningen, Region Västra Götaland where she works towards green industry's sustainable growth and development through the region's nature management schools, test environments in Skara, Svenljunga and Töreboda and through various collaborative projects with academia, research actors and green entrepreneurs.
Adjunct Steering board
Kennet works as a curator of the invertebrate collection at the Gothenburg Natural History Museum and is also an associate professor at the Dept. of Marine sciences at the University of Gothenburg. Kennet's research focuses on nudibranchs and other marine invertebrates.
Mats is the scientific leader at Nordens Ark. He works on multiple conservational projects including an Interreg funded project focusing on nordic bees.
Jenny is the Director of the GGBC. She has a PhD-degree in Applied Environmental Science and her main research interest is ecosystem services focusing on how trees can influence the air quality in cities. Jenny also works at the Gothenburg Botanical Garden with science communication and research.
Prof. Scott Edwards, Harvard University
Prof. Hugo de Boer, University of Oslo
Dr. Sandy Knapp, Natural History Museum London
Anna Stenström, Länsstyrelsen Västra Götaland
Prof. Jens Christian Svenning, Aarhus University