Advancing Sustainability in a Time of Uncertainty

In my first blog post, I want to highlight the type of work we do at LUCSUS. How has our centre evolved, and what are we about? What is our role in an emerging global discourse around separation, protectionism and ‘alternative facts’?

So, how has LUCSUS evolved?
Over the past 10 years, LUCSUS has been a leading global Centre for sustainability at Lund University. We have evolved in the context of an increasing global awareness of the relationship between society and global environmental change, and the impact that these changes have meant for the most vulnerable people and ecosystems around the globe. The history of LUCSUS is important in understanding how developing interdisciplinary research and teaching on environment and development has contributed to current scientific understanding on sustainability, resilience and development.

Our centre has brought together different disciplines across Lund University, and evolved into a space where people engage in critical and empirical work on developing new frameworks on sustainability and identifying new areas of integration to better understand the environment-development nexus.

How do we work now?
We are working on a broad spectrum of interdisciplinary science on climate and land use change, and on the politics of water, energy and forestry, and on development and urban governance, resilience and adaptation.

I would say that we are unique in the way that we use common approaches, methodologies and tools of assessment to better understand the environment-development linkages. We focus on the perspective of justice, rights and development, and policy in relation to integrating social and natural sciences within the research and teaching. What defines our staff is their common approach to research and learning, and importantly to a collegiate leadership and working environment.

Our researchers work across multiple scales: on how individuals and communities understand what climate change means to them and their livelihoods, how global structures enhance or limit sustainable development actions, or how policy drivers influence environmental change in ways that are harmful to important ecosystem services. Our focus is on contributing to impact, for example by explaining why forest carbon markets don’t work for the poor, or why we need to think about whether climate change actions will be more effective if adaptation is thought about as a societal and political issue, and not just a technological or scientific one.

As a centre, we actively engage with global scientific processes such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Intergovernmental Process on Ecosystems and Biodiversity (IPBES). We also extend our policy impact through close collaboration with the Earth System Governance (ESG) Programme.

What about the future?
The work of sustainability scientists is now juxtaposed against global discourse around separation, protectionism and ‘alternative facts’. It has never been more important to demonstrate the role of responsible leadership in the work on sustainability and adhere to core values, to seek new knowledge, build ethical norms and rigorous methodologies, and tackle issues of inequality, gender, diversity and inclusion.

From LUCSUS’ side we will take an active stand on these issues. We will continue to engage critically with new questions and solutions on how societies address these critical global issues. We will also continue to strengthen positive partnerships with existing networks and create new ones going forward into the future.

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