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A social science perspective on the co-production of ecosystem services

Conference contribution
Authors Marie Stenseke
Published in Oral presentation at Resilience 2017. Resilience frontiers for global sustainability, Stockholm Aug 20- 23
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Economy and Society, Unit for Human Geography
Department of Economy and Society
Language en
Keywords human-nature interface, nature's contributions to people
Subject categories Human Geography


Understanding and reframing the way in which humans are conceptualized in relation to the rest of nature is an important part of working out how to craft a more sustainable future. Notwithstanding the heterogeneity in science (including natural, engineering, and social sciences and humanities) as regards the degree to which ’the human’ and ’nature’ are regarded as distinct categories, the need to detect the role of human agency in order to identify paths towards sustainability is commonly acknowledged. For properly addressing the full range of SDG:s, including equity and distributive justice, it is necessary to recognize the multifaceted character of human agency. Hence, the mapping and analyzing of ‘co-production of ecosystem services’ has to acknowledge key aspects related to the human society and human well-being, such as knowledge, power, values and conflicting interests. In line with recent thinking in IPBES, ecosystem services is better regarded as a complex network of social actors and co-production pathways, rather than as a uni-directional cascade from nature to peoples’ quality of life. Likewise, it is important to recognize the cross-regional interactions (i.e. teleconnections), which constitute a significant character of the contemporary global and mobile society. Both these issues add to the complexity of ‘co-production of ecosystem services’ and challenge us to go beyond local spatial scales and linear perspectives on interactions. In doing so, it might facilitate to differentiate between physical and cognitive co-production types, as suggested by Palomo et al (2016).

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