Social transformations knowledge repository

Social transformations knowledge repository

Social Transformations of marine social-ecological systems knowledge repository
​​​​​​​This repository, developed by the Working Group​ on Resilience and Marine Ecosystem Services (WGRMES) ​​includes detailed and innovative information about the different human uses and impacts on the oceans and their drivers.

Research on marine social-ecological systems (SES) and sustainability goes with calls for deep social change (Steffen et al. 2015). Most of the research done on marine SES was focused on the transformations of the marine ecosystems and their ecological functions (Folke et al. 2011). However, it is highly unlikely to address current great challenges in global marine change and sustainability without a better understanding of how real and enduring social transformation comes about and how it can be initiated or promoted.

Our hypothesis is that crossing critical tipping points can lead to abrupt social transformations of marine SES, but avoiding those thresholds can be possible by also promoting desirable social changes in marine SES. To test this hypothesis, this is the first attempt to standardise different complex and interconnected drivers (e.g., environmental, institutional, economic and financial) in order to document empirical evidence of social transformations of marine ES. By documenting case studies with large social transformations, we would be able to better understand what are the social changes needed to avoid crossing tipping points and undesirable outcomes. In addition, we document

The Social Transformations of marine SES repository​ includes detailed and innovative information about the different human uses and impacts on the oceans and their drivers. It provides a high-quality, descriptive, open-source information resource for students, researchers, fisheries managers and representatives of the marine sectors (industrial and small-scale fisheries, aquaculture and the canned industry). The repository provides the basis for future inclusions of case studies, on topics such as small-scale fisheries, industrial fisheries and aquaculture.

The repository is the result of the ICES Science Fund project Social transformation of marine social-ecological systems. To date there has been no standardized data collection about the social transformation of marine social-ecological systems (SES). From a literature review made by members of the ICES Science Fund Project, key information on the most common variables was extracted which helped evaluating whether social transformations could be applied to marine SES. Data variables include, amongst other things, name of the authors, year of publication, objectives and key words of the papers, scale of the study, type of social transformation, drivers and scales of the social transformation, economic sectors affected; synergies and trade-offs identified, time scale and reversibility of the social transformation, and sources of evidence.

How to contribute

Contributions from colleagues in the ICES scientific community and around the globe are welcome. For this purpose, we have developed a template,​ in which we include the variables to document empirical evidence of social transformations of marine SES. 

If you want to receive more information about the project or are interested to contribute to, please contact professor Sebastián Villasante and Gonzalo Macho.


Folke, C et al. (2011) Ambio, 40(7): 719-738

Steffen, W. et al. (2015) Science, 437: 6233

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Social transformations knowledge repository

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