Perspectives

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  • Real-time control of combined sewer systems and green infrastructure can be used to reduce flooding. In this Perspective, the authors simulated the use of integrated stormwater inflow control to dynamically activate infrastructure in Copenhagen, Denmark, to substantially reduce combined sewage emissions.

    • Nadia Schou Vorndran Lund
    • Morten Borup
    • Peter Steen Mikkelsen
    Perspective
  • Researchers and decision-makers lack a shared understanding of resilience. Here, the authors define social-ecological resilience as including three characteristics of social-ecological systems — resistance, recovery and robustness — and show how this framework can help resilience management.

    • R. Quentin Grafton
    • Luc Doyen
    • Paul R. Wyrwoll
    Perspective
  • Data from conventional sources cannot fully measure progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Here the authors present a roadmap describing how citizen-science data can integrate traditional data and make a significant contribution in support of the SDGs agenda.

    • Steffen Fritz
    • Linda See
    • Sarah West
    Perspective
  • This Perspective suggests how a systems perspective on artificial drainage can promote sustainable intensification, limiting nutrient losses and greenhouse-gas emissions and increasing nitrogen-use efficiency.

    • Michael J. Castellano
    • Sotirios V. Archontoulis
    • Johan Six
    Perspective
  • The Sustainable Development Goals require profound national and societal changes. This Perspective introduces six Transformations as building blocks for achieving the SDGs and an agenda for science to provide the requisite knowledge.

    • Jeffrey D. Sachs
    • Guido Schmidt-Traub
    • Johan Rockström
    Perspective
  • Record-breaking fire seasons are becoming the new normal, prompting calls for land management and policy reforms. This Perspective clarifies different types of resilience to wildfire to prioritize efforts to better coexist with increasingly fire-prone conditions.

    • David B. McWethy
    • Tania Schoennagel
    • Crystal Kolden
    Perspective
  • In the Anthropocene, our global influence extends to risks. This Perspective argues for including human–environment interactions in our understanding of systemic risks and considers four illustrative case studies, including sea-level rise and megacities.

    • Patrick W. Keys
    • Victor Galaz
    • Sarah E. Cornell
    Perspective
  • The international community has committed to fight climate change and achieve 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Here the authors assess evidence about the relationships between the two agendas and discuss the need of deeper interdisciplinary efforts to understand these relationships.

    • Francesco Fuso Nerini
    • Benjamin Sovacool
    • Ben Milligan
    Perspective
  • Managing the interactions and impacts of scaled-up solar energy production will require understanding of the relationships between technological and ecological systems. This Perspective proposes a framework that could help engineer beneficial outcomes from an energy transition.

    • Rebecca R. Hernandez
    • Alona Armstrong
    • Daniel M. Kammen
    Perspective
  • Sanitation is usually considered just an engineering and public health issue. This Perspective suggests avenues by which recoverable resources can enhance ecosystem services, such as provisioning nutrients for food production, and suggests synergies that can promote sustainable development.

    • John T. Trimmer
    • Daniel C. Miller
    • Jeremy S. Guest
    Perspective
  • Addressing sustainability challenges requires attention to the material basis of society. This Perspective illustrates how a Systems Thinking in Chemistry Education framework could help to integrate knowledge about the molecular world with the sustainability of Earth and societal systems.

    • Peter G. Mahaffy
    • Stephen A. Matlin
    • Jennifer MacKellar
    Perspective
  • Urban systems must adapt to climatic and other global change. This Perspective uses urban systems to argue that sustainability and resilience are complementary but not interchangeable and that, in some cases, resilience can even render cities unsustainable.

    • Thomas Elmqvist
    • Erik Andersson
    • Carl Folke
    Perspective
  • Sand and gravel have become important commodities due to infrastructure and coastal protection schemes, leading to shortages on a global level. This Perspective looks at how Greenland could diversify its economy towards export of its sand resources and the potential impacts on the environment and local way of life.

    • Mette Bendixen
    • Irina Overeem
    • Lars Lønsmann Iversen
    Perspective
  • Effectively managing natural capital and its associated ecosystem services is difficult given that the effects of most actions depend on the wider environmental conditions. This Perspective presents an analytical framework that allows identifying why and where management actions can best enhance natural capital.

    • Rebecca Spake
    • Chloe Bellamy
    • Felix Eigenbrod
    Perspective
  • Transgressing planetary boundaries has generated global, ongoing and interconnected problems that represent a real challenge to policy makers. This Perspective sheds light on the complexities of designing policies that can keep human life within the biophysical limits of planet Earth.

    • Thomas Sterner
    • Edward B. Barbier
    • Amanda Robinson
    Perspective
  • Since the 1990s, global agricultural output has been driven largely by innovations that raised the efficiency of using labour, land and other inputs, together called total factor productivity (TFP). This Perspective discusses this reality and suggests two pathways for future growth: technology-based and ecosystem-based. Future research on farm-system sustainability and resilience should leverage these options.

    • Oliver T. Coomes
    • Bradford L. Barham
    • Jean-Paul Chavas
    Perspective
  • Issues around the use of natural resources are often framed in terms of the nexus concept. This Perspective discusses why the nexus concept matters in understanding the link between bio-physical and human dimensions, particularly with regard to the SDGs.

    • Raimund Bleischwitz
    • Catalina Spataru
    • Detlef P. van Vuuren
    Perspective
  • Organizations are social systems different from ecosystems and natural resources. Using social systems theory, and employing the concepts of emergence, resilience and scale, this Perspective presents management principles for pursuing sustainability across an array of organizational contexts.

    • Dror Etzion
    Perspective