Safe Operating Spaces for Regional Socio-ecological Systems workshop

10.07 - 11.07.2012
Southampton, UK
Contact person:
John Dearing, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


For the earth system, the planetary boundaries concept provides a powerful framework for exploring thresholds in key global processes and defining safe operating spaces. In this workshop, the focus is on how to produce parallel understanding at sub-planetary scales in order to give an enhanced level of information for local-regional policy-makers.

We envisage 25 participants working in plenary and break-out groups. The intended outcome is a scoping paper with workshop participants as authors for a high impact journal (e.g Science).

Science objectives

1. Develop a methodology for assessing theoretical boundaries for human activities within a regional ecosystems services framework that can be deployed worldwide;
2. Identify and assess alternative theoretical dynamical approaches to setting regional boundaries, for example: linear-threshold-fold bifurcation change; convergent trends; variance from background/norm; socio-ecological network topology;
3. Critically assess data needs and challenges for observing and anticipating trends, thresholds and interactions in regional ecosystem services, biogeochemical processes and their drivers over multi-decadal timescales;
4. Provide case-studies to demonstrate the approaches.

It is intended that a working paper with reviewed articles, ideas and case-study material will be produced by the organisers and circulated in advance of the workshop. This will provide background for discussions and a possible template for the subsequent scoping paper.