Global Economic Dynamics and the Biosphere

Global Economic Dynamics and the Biosphere
(2013; Royal Swedish Academy, Stockholm; 16 staff;

A research project funded by the Family Erling-Persson Foundation, to address the core task and challenge of considering how to manage economic development and use of natural resources so as to maximize wellbeing within the frames set by the capacity of the biosphere. Knowledge about the interplay between global environmental change and human affairs, from local to global levels, is greatly in demand from governments, the business sector and international organizations such as the United Nations. GEDB contributes to a better understanding of this interplay by combining economic studies with a range of disciplines to produce high-quality science of relevance to society.  It builds on the recognition that social systems are intricately and inextricably linked to natural systems and embedded in the biosphere. Viewed from that perspective, any attempts to move towards sustainable futures must recognize the workings of social-ecological systems at multiple scales, with an explicit focus on economics. Staff members deliver talks and engage in activities around the world, e.g., “The environmental and health impacts of transboundary air pollution from China to the U.S.” Started as a five-year research program at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, but has been extended since then.


  • (Macro)economy and the Biosphere: This theme focuses on promoting cutting-edge work on macro-economic models which integrate the biosphere through various “planetary boundaries” and natural resources. It also includes analysis of consumer behavior, supply chain structures and other aspects of how trade interacts with and affects a broad set of natural resources and the environment.
  • Marine resource trade and its effects on social-ecological systems: This theme uses the marine realm as a case resource system to examine how existing and emergent markets, market structures, actors and commodity chain dynamics affect the functioning of marine social-ecological systems (SES) at multiple scales. It also analyses cross-scale interactions (local-regional-global) that drive dynamics and determine outcomes at these different scales.
  • Interactions between financial markets and the biosphere: Explores the interconnectivity between global financial processes and large-scale biophysical processes. The work underway explores how financial actors, instruments and flows affect social-ecological processes. Examples include studies on the role of financial instruments for commodities and their possible associations to land use change; and the impact of novel financial instruments for biosphere stewardship.
  • Cross cutting themes
    • “Cross-scale dynamics” is primarily concerned with the two-way influence between the economy and the biosphere, mediated by the social-ecological systems within it.
    • “Systems Transformation” focuses on how we can move from largely uncoordinated use of the biosphere and its resources, to a more structured biosphere stewardship, and what such a stewardship might look like.


  • Annual Reports
  • News and activities
  • A large research library of books, chapters, articles, reports, etc.
    • Sleeping Financial Giants – Opportunities in financial leadership for climate stability – This report has two primary themes. The first is to introduce to the financial sector the notion of tipping elements and to provide a short, state-of-the-art review of the scientific knowledge surrounding this rapidly evolving field of enquiry. Second, it makes explicit the links between the investment sector and such tipping elements, and outlines a preliminary approach for how to examine such links using two cases: the Amazon rainforest and the boreal forests of Russia and Canada.

Leadership: Beatrice Crona (Executive Director)

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