We research how Nature’s Contributions to People (NCP) are used, valued and demanded by different social actors in multiple social-ecological contexts. In addition, we seek to understand how different systems of values, knowledge and institutions with regards to human-nature relations are changing in different social-ecological contexts and identify ways by which these changes can be redirected to facilitate human-nature connectedness. We also advance knowledge to determine which configurations of values, knowledge and institutions promote pathways towards sustainability.

Which demands for and values of nature’s contribution to people are expressed by central and local actors? What is the influence of indigenous and local knowledge?
Picture: Rainforest in the region of Kilimanjaro Mountain (Tanzania).
View from a height through treetops to a canopy of tropical jungle © M. Groß/Leuphana
How and under which ecological, socio-ecological and economic conditions does the restoration of biodiverse grasslands succeed?
Picture: Grassland and pasture landscape in the Schorfheide (Germany).
Grassland & pasture landscape with irrigation ditch and silo bales © B. Martín-López/Leuphana
What must sustainable management strategies look like that foster biodiversity conservation, nature’s contributions to people and farmer´s good quality of life?
Picture: Dry forest in the biosphere reserve Chamela-Cuixmala (Mexico).
Local in a hilly landscape at the edge of tropical dry forest © P. Santillán Carvantes/Leuphana

Landscapes represent social-ecological systems in which the ISDP team specifies its research and questions place-based.

Modus Operandi

Our research program is highly inter- and transdisciplinary as the main motivation is to understand social-ecological dynamics across scales in order to foster sustainability. To do so, we conduct place-based social-ecological research in different rural systems in Africa, Europe and Latin America, as well as, regional and global assessments.

In order to meet the inter- and transdisciplinary requirements of our research the team covers different disciplines, including environmental science, sustainability science, ecological economics, humanities, feminist studies or political ecology. Moreover, we work collaboratively with scientists from other disciplines as well as social actors outside academia. Important partners in these collaborations are some minorities and marginalized groups, such as Indigenous Peoples and local communities, people with disabilities, and people discriminated because their gender*.

As a research team, we have an active commitment with the science-society and science-policy interfaces. Accordingly, we engage with a diverse and broad range of societal actors and, for instance, in the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

Our daily research is guided by the conviction that it must be responsible. Responsibility means, in particular, responsibility towards society, towards our colleagues and collaborators, and towards ourselves. In our understanding, this principle strongly relates with a feminist ethos of care that we intend to practice steadily.

* refers to all non-male people, which also includes trans-gender, non-binary people and gender fluid people.