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Reconnecting society with its ecological roots

Everard, Mark; Kass, Gary; Longhurst, James; zu Ermgassen, Sophus; Girardet, Herbert; Stewart-Evans, James; Wentworth, Jonathan; Austin, Kevin; Dwyer, Ciara; Fish, Robert; Johnston, Paul; Mantle, Gary; Staddon, Chad; Tickner, Dave; Spode, Steve; Vale, Jackie; Jarvis, Rhianna; Digby, Mathilda; Wren, Gwilym; Sunderland, Tim; Craig, Amanda


Mark Everard
Associate Professor in Ecosystem Services

Gary Kass

Sophus zu Ermgassen

Herbert Girardet

James Stewart-Evans

Jonathan Wentworth

Kevin Austin

Ciara Dwyer

Robert Fish

Paul Johnston

Gary Mantle

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Chad Staddon
Professor/Associate Head of Department: Research and Scholarship

Dave Tickner

Steve Spode

Jackie Vale

Rhianna Jarvis

Mathilda Digby

Gwilym Wren

Tim Sunderland

Amanda Craig


Recent high-profile analyses of trajectories and prognoses of ecosystem decline around the world have called for a renewed focus on embedding the values of the natural world across all areas of public policy. This paper reports the results of a UK-based deliberative process involving experts from a wide range of policy domains and across societal sectors: government departments, associated agencies, national and international NGOs, professional institutions, academia and independent experts. A symposium, based on a collaborative learning approach, explored instances in which ecosystem values have successfully been embedded into public policy, identified challenges to their more widespread embedding despite commitments to do so over generational timescales, and took a backcasting approach to develop actionable outcomes required to deliver transformation change across state and civil society. Emergent themes were expressed in social, technological, environmental, economic and political terms. Recommendations for interventions in complex social-ecological systems are cross-sectoral in scope and will necessarily entail multiple agents of change, well beyond governmental leadership, within any given sphere of societal activity and interest. We identify strategic challenges for, and between, a spectrum of societal policy areas, many currently overlooking ecosystem dependencies, impacts and potential benefits. Reflections on the collaborative learning approach are also provided.


Everard, M., Kass, G., Longhurst, J., zu Ermgassen, S., Girardet, H., Stewart-Evans, J., …Craig, A. (2021). Reconnecting society with its ecological roots. Environmental Science and Policy, 116, 8-19.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 1, 2020
Online Publication Date Nov 10, 2020
Publication Date Feb 1, 2021
Deposit Date Nov 9, 2020
Publicly Available Date Nov 11, 2021
Journal Environmental Science and Policy
Print ISSN 1462-9011
Electronic ISSN 1873-6416
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 116
Pages 8-19
Keywords Ecosystems; System change; Deliberation; Sustainable development; Transformation; Socio-ecological systems
Public URL