From December 7 to 8, 2022, decision-makers, practitioners and researchers gathered in Paris for the first groundwater summit of its kind at UN level. The high-level meeting’s objective was to formulate a clear message on groundwater to pass to the UN water summit in New York, 2023. The groundwater community gathered to draw attention to what many see as missing for example in the formulation of SDG6: Groundwater as a key element in meeting the SDGs. The event that also marked the final phase of the UN water year lasting from March 2022 to March 2023 was held under the title ‘Groundwater: Making the Invisible Visible’.
How can social ecology benefit from political ecology and vice versa? An international two-day online workshop organized by ISOE researchers offered the opportunity for dialogue between these neighbouring research fields. What role do more-than-human entities such as plants, animals, rivers, resources, geomorphological formations and things play in conflict analysis? This was the overarching question of the session, which linked the concept of social-ecological systems with approaches of environmental justice, resistance and politics. In addition, the question, “What happens when theoretical claims of political ecology meet practical problems in transdisciplinary, social-ecological projects?” invited to reflect on power asymmetries in everyday research.
Transdisciplinary research ideally builds upon both scientific approaches and practical knowledge from stakeholders. However, in advanced stages of the research process, how should the knowledge transfer of relevant research results to local stakeholders take place? The example of Namibian land users shows that knowledge has to be prepared and communicated in a target group-specific way. The more you know about the target group in question and the earlier you take the upcoming knowledge transfer into account, the easier this process will be. Although there are phases during the transfer process during which the focus is on the transfer of knowledge from research to practice, it is important not to view this communication process as a one-way street, but as a genuine dialogue.
To stay within the ecological carrying capacity of our planet, we need to fundamentally transform the economy. We must look beyond technological solutions to find truly regenerative ways of living which restore rather than further deplete natural capital. Such a nature-based economy hinges on social innovations and new economic thinking, including degrowth and care economy.
In transdisciplinary research, context dependencies, innovative formats and methods, societal effects, and scientific effects have all been discussed at length. However, the discourse still lacks an integrative perspective on these four key aspects. This blog post gives a glimpse into a new paper, in which the tdAcademy team provides an overview of each aspect and highlights relevant research questions that need answering in order to advance transdisciplinary research. It also presents tdCommunity as a means of connecting the transdisciplinary research community.
Soybeans are a crucial crop for the world economy. Argentina as the world’s third largest transgenic soy grower plays a key role in the global soy value chain with transgenic soy being a pillar of the country’s development model. Several conflicts are emerging around soy cultivation in Argentina and I focus on the conflict about royalties on transgenic soy seeds between farmers, the state and seed companies. Here, I will in particular show how some plant characteristics of soy have an effect on the emergence and the development of the conflicts.
The COVID-19 pandemic has vividly demonstrated the susceptibility of fieldwork activities – which play a key role in social-ecological research – to sudden crisis events. This contribution is reflecting on the question of how researchers can constructively deal with such challenges and in what respect this might also constitute a chance to promote a more inclusive and equitable research landscape. We are offering recommendations for overcoming disruptions to place-based research and some food for thought that may also be of interest beyond the social-ecological research community.
Groundwater is the main source of drinking water and irrigated food production worldwide. The invisible resource is, however, under stress from climate change, societal water withdrawals and long-distance effects – telecouplings. Virtual water trade, that is the water contained in traded products, and remote water supply are two examples of how society manages groundwater in such de-localised contexts. The junior research group ‘regulate’ examines the social-ecological regulation of groundwater against telecoupling effects in an inter- and transdisciplinary research setting. Case studies in Germany, Spain and Croatia provide the empirical basis to inform sustainable groundwater governance in Europe.
Addressing complex sustainability problems requires more than scientific knowledge. Researchers must collaborate with societal actors from government, business and civil society, and engage in the co-production of knowledge and action. Sustainability-oriented networks can help to foster this co-production as they link different types of actors across various scales. But how can such networks effectively facilitate co-production? The ‘network compass’ offers guidance in supporting networks to reflect on effective strategies for sustainability transformations.
Ocean plastic pollution presents a common environmental paradox: despite an exponential increase in awareness, flows of plastic into global oceans are only expected to increase. What might it be about the kinds of knowledges circulated, and about the kinds of solutions that follow, that are preventing more systemic change? What if the problem isn’t individual choices, or even the plastic industry’s monumental efforts to continue to produce waste alone, but an even more entrenched constellation of capitalism, colonialism and cultural assumptions about plastic itself?