Mapping social-ecological systems archetypes

Juan Rocha, Katja Malmborg, Line Gordon, Kate Brauman, Fabrice Declerck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Achieving sustainable development goals requires targeting and monitoring sustainable solutions tailored to different social and ecological contexts. A social-ecological systems (SESs) framework was developed to help diagnose problems, identify complex interactions, and solutions tailored to each SES. Here we develop a data-driven method for upscaling the SES framework and apply it to a context where data is scarce, but also where solutions towards sustainable development are needed. The purpose of upscaling the framework is to create a tool that facilitates decision-making in data-scarce contexts. We mapped SES by applying the framework to poverty alleviation and food security issues in the Volta River basin in Ghana and Burkina Faso. We found archetypical configurations of SES in space, and discuss where agricultural innovations such as water reservoirs might have a stronger impact at increasing food availability and therefore alleviating poverty and hunger. We conclude by outlining how the method can be used in other SES comparative studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number034017
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd.


  • archetypes
  • social-ecological systems
  • sustainable development goals


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