The Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS) is a new initiative within the ICSU global change programmes that aims to integrate research on the stewardship of social—ecological systems, the services they generate and the relationships among natural capital, human wellbeing, livelihoods, inequality and poverty.
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.
PECS is a coordinating body for diverse independently funded research projects, not a funder of research. PECS research employs a range of transdisciplinary approaches and methods, with comparative, place-based research that is international in scope at the core.
In 2007, the International Council for Science (ICSU), in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations (UNESCO) and the United Nations University (UNU), established an ad hoc expert group to assess the gaps revealed by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment in current scientific knowledge of the links between ecosystem services and human wellbeing.
The ad hoc expert group published its report on Ecosystem Change and Human Well-being in December 2008.
The report included a recommendation for establishing a new 10-year research programme, Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS), to foster coordinated research for understanding the dynamic relationship between humans and ecosystems.
This programme is jointly sponsored by ICSU and UNESCO and complements the four other ICSU sponsored global environmental change programmes and the Earth Systems Science Partnership.
PECS research will be explicitly transdisciplinary and intersectoral, and will thereby break down barriers that have impeded understanding of social—ecological trans- formations.
Facing the grand challenges
PECS aims to understand interactions across scales, such as fast and slow drivers of social and ecological change, thresholds, traps and time lags, in order to identify appropriate operational scales. A comparative, place-based approach, international in scope, is at the core of PECS research. PECS is a coordinating organisation, not a funding agency.
The emergence of PECS is an opportunity to implement some key elements of Earth System Science for Global Sustainability. The grand challenges of Earth System Science explicitly involve the dynamics of integrated social—ecological systems, which are the focus of PECS.
Ultimately, the success of PECS will depend on the participation of excellent researchers who are motivated to link their research to the PECS network, as well as the full ensemble of global change research programmes.
The PECS International Programme Office (IPO) is hosted by the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC).
Please contact Albert Norström for more information.