Photo: Andre Maslennikov/Azote

Vision and mission

The vision of PECS is a world where human actions have transformed to achieve sustainable stewardship of social-ecological systems.

The goal of PECS is to generate the scientific and policy-relevant knowledge of social-ecological dynamics needed to enable such a shift, including mitigation of poverty.

3 key features of PECS research:

1. Recognition that ecosystem services are not generated by ecosystems alone, but by social-ecological systems.

Social-ecological systems are interdependent and linked systems of people and nature that are nested across scales. In essence this reflects that people are part of ecosystems and shape them, from local to global scales, from the past to the future and are at the same time fundamentally dependent on the capacity of these systems to provide services for human wellbeing and societal development. PECS explicitly connects people to the biosphere and the Earth System as a whole and aims at removing the perceived dichotomy between nature and society.

2. Recognition that stewardship of ecosystem services in social-ecological landscapes and seascapes operates in interacting local to global contexts.

The expansion of the human dimension into the Anthropocene has resulted in an interconnected global society with new cross-scale interactions connecting people and places in new ways. These interactions are ultimately framed by the capacity of the global systems to sustain social-ecological progress and development.

3. Recognition that interactions in social-ecological systems are complex.

Social-ecological systems are complex systems that possess critical thresholds, multiple drivers of change and reciprocal feedbacks between social and ecological components. Thresholds can be crossed suddenly and unexpectedly and result in hard to reverse changes in the coupled social-ecological systems (e.g. salinized agricultural areas, collapsed fisheries, degraded forests). Multiple slow and fast drivers of change make it difficult to predict when such dramatic changes will occur and to pinpoint cause-and- effect mechanisms. Living with this complexity and change require adaptive approaches to management and governance with decision-making under high degrees of uncertainty.

Printable version

2013-02-05 Capito admin

PECS - Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society

Stockholm Resilience Centre

Stockholm University
SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Visiting address: Kräftriket 2


The Program on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS), is a new initiative jointly sponsored by ICSU and UNESCO. It aims to integrate research on the stewardship of social–ecological system and the relationships among natural capital, human wellbeing, livelihoods, inequality and poverty.