– With this new institute, Stockholm University becomes a global node for environmental research with great influence on the international agenda. Mistra’s commitment means that the existing world-class and transdisciplinary research on the environment and development can be intensified considerably, says Kåre Bremer, Vice Chancellor of Stockholm University.

The new institute will conduct cutting edge research on how human welfare and viable ecosystems can develop together, and also act as a platform for dialogue between politicians, authorities and resource users all over the world. In this way, research results can be turned into practical solutions and contribute to sustainable societal development.

– Until now, political decision-making on the environment appears to have amounted to little more than reshuffling the deck chairs of the Titanic. In order to solve the great environmental problems of the world, we need to change course. Our hope is that the new Institute will contribute essential knowledge that is needed to steer development onto a sustainable path, says Johan Rockström, Executive Director of the Stockholm Environment Institute and Director–to-be of the Institute.

Behind Mistra’s commitment lies the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, a UN-led study on the world’s ecosystems which was released last year. In it, 1400 experts state that the ecosystems which are the basis for human welfare and economic development are deteriorating. Today, 60 percent of the free ecosystem services that we use are exploited in an unsustainable manner. Crucial ecosystem services such as air- and water purification, the pollination of crops and the seas’ capacity to produce fish are in serious decline. The changes are occurring so rapidly today that society is unable to adapt to the new environmental circumstances and thus cannot effectively develop strategies and frameworks for sustainable use of the ecosystems.

– We want to build a unique transdiciplinary research environment where innovative ideas can flourish. By combining new forms of cooperation with a holistic perspective, we hope to generate the insights that are needed to strengthen societies’ and the ecosystems’ capacities to meet a world which spins faster and faster, says Carl Folke, Director of the Centre for Transdisciplinary Research and Science Director-to-be of the Institute.

– Our societies are an integrated part of the biosphere and dependent upon functioning ecosystems. That is why we need to manage ecosystems so that we can handle the future’s challenges and maintain our capacity to evolve in a positive way, concludes Carl Folke.

FACTS about the new Mistra-financed institute
Mistra’s grant of 22 million Euros in total will be distributed over a period of 12 years: 2.7 million Euros during a three year start-up phase (2007-2009), and then 8.7 million Euros during the coming four years (2010-2013). After that, an evaluation will be conducted before the remaining 11 million Euros are handed out. All in all, the Institute’s yearly budget is expected to be 4.8 million Euros once it is up and running. The Institute will be led by a board that is to be appointed by Stockholm University’s Vice Chancellor, and it will have several hundred researchers from a wide range of disciplines within the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities tied to it.

The Institute will conduct internationally leading research on how human welfare and robust ecosystems can co-develop, as well as serving as a platform for dialogue with politicians, authorities and resource users at a local, regional and international level; emphasis will be placed on the dissemination of information and communication through different media.

The Institute’s research will contribute answers to questions of the future such as: How can human societies – from a local to international level – be organized in order to meet future climate change? How can we reform agriculture so that there is enough food for a growing population? How should networks of marine reserves be shaped in order to secure the world’s future fisheries? How do we decrease the level of vulnerability in the megacities of today and tomorrow?

Already today, CTM, SEI, and the Beijer Institute are conducting internationally leading research within these areas and have well-developed collaborations with a large number of successful universities and research institutes. Through Mistra’s contribution, this work can be intensified and hopefully contribute to substantial progress on sustainable development for the world.

Further information: Mistra’s announcement, Stockholm University’s application, and Mistra’s evaluation can be downloaded from www.ctm.su.se.

For more answers please contact:
KÃ¥re Bremer, Vice Chancellor, Stockholm University. Phone + 46-733 669 169
Johan Rockström, Executive Director, Stockholm Environment Institute and Executive Director of the new institute, phone: +46-708-25 95 60
Carl Folke, Executive Director, Centre for Transdisciplinary Research and Science Director of the Institute, can be reached via Albaeco phone: +46-708–89 99 95
Maria Sandqvist, press secretary, Stockholm University, phone: +46-8-16 13 77, +46-70-664 22 64
Ellika Hermansson Török, press secretary SEI/Albaeco phone: + 46-708-89 99 95

More about Stockholm University
Stockholm University is the capital city’s university – a regional centre for research and teaching in the humanities, law, the natural sciences and the social sciences. The university has 39,000 students and 5,600 employees. www.su.se

More about the Centre for Transdisciplinary Research, CTM
CTM is an independent centre at Stockholm University that works as a bridge builder between different faculties. CTM collaborates with all the institutions at Stockholm University that conduct environmental research within the area of sustainable development. CTM develops transdisciplinary courses, coordinates larger research projects, and informs the world around about the university’s environmental research. www.ctm.su.se

More about the Stockholm Environment Institute, SEI
SEI is an international research institute that works with policy related issues within the environmental and sustainable development fields. The institute carries on applied research within the following areas: climate, energy, air pollution, ozone, land and water use, urban environments, risk- and vulnerability and also does strategic environmental studies. SEI runs projects in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. The institute has, besides its head office in Stockholm, offices in Boston, Tallin, York, Oxford, and Bangkok. www.sei.se

More about the Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics
The Beijer International Institute for Ecological Economics is an international research institute at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm. The institute conducts studies that lie in the borderland between ecology and economics. Among its research programs are themes such as ownership rights and other judicial frameworks for dealing with the management of natural resources, the societal benefits of ecosystems and the economic value of ecosystems. www.beijer.kva.se

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