Welcome to our Blog!

This blog is written by COUPLED PhD fellows and other project members. We use it to share project news, reflect PhD life and discuss sustainability and land-use challenges.

The views expressed here are personal opinions, and those do not necessarily reflect those of COUPLED as a whole or European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research Executive Agency (REA). Moreover, neither COUPLED nor REA are responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

Making trade a constructive force for sustainability

Cover Photo by Thiago Foresti By Simon Bager and Tiago Reis, PhD-candidates at UCLouvain, Belgium and ESR fellows at COUPLED In a new paper published in One Earth, we argue that trade agreements could help to protect human rights, critical ecosystems, and the climate—but only if sustainability becomes a cornerstone of international trade. This blog…

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Building a green Belt and Road Initiative? First steps on a long road ahead.

Cover Photo: Moračica Bridge of the Bar-Boljare Highway in Montenegro / photo taken by Johanna Coenen By Johanna Coenen and Simon Bager China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a young, yet fast developing framework of activities aimed at improving regional and trans-continental cooperation and connectivity through investments, trade, and infrastructure projects. In fall 2013,…

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Academia in the Time of COVID-19: Towards an Ethics of Care

The global COVID-19 pandemic is affecting people’s work-life balance across the world. For academics, confinement policies enacted by most countries have implied a sudden switch to home-work, a transition to online teaching and mentoring, and an adjustment of research activities. In this article, the authors, led by COUPLED member Esteve Corbera, discuss how the COVID-19…

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Which forests could be protected by corporate zero deforestation commitments?

By Floris Leijten Background Agricultural expansion is the most important driver of global forest loss. Commodities that are most commonly associated with agriculture-driven deforestation include palm oil, soybean, beef, and timber. Recognizing the need to halt deforestation, over 480 companies involved in the production, processing, or distribution of these commodities have therefore issued commitments to…

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What if diets in western countries were about to change? Let’s imagine the outcomes for global agriculture and local ecological conditions

By Perrine Laroche Livestock products constitute 29% of the energy content of Western diets. Because animals swallow large amounts of feed to produce the calories that are finally ingested by humans, land use for feeding Western citizens is considerable. The CO2 emissions cumulated along the food production process translate into environmental burdens that our planet…

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Economic growth is not compatible with biodiversity, but conservation policies advocate it

A team including COUPLED researchers Jonas Østergaard Nielsen, Helmut Haberl and Beatriz Rodríguez‐Labajos analyses the relationship between economic growth and biodiversity conservation. The authors show that by increasing resource use and emissions, economic growth contributes to biodiversity loss. The paper also shows that most international policies on biodiversity and sustainability advocate economic growth. To solve this…

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Responsible travel in sustainability science: How to overcome our dilemma of studying global connections and the urge to travel less

By Louise Marie Busck Lumholt, Johanna Coenen, Perrine Laroche, Nicolas Roux, Kathrin Trommler Travel-related emissions and the proportion of academia’s carbon-footprint has become a debated issue, especially among researchers working on sustainability. While some “walk the talk” and fly less individually, others urge for stronger collective government action. Our European Innovative Training Network (ITN) COUPLED aims to…

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Hope, risk and gold mining

By Anna Frohn Pedersen Together with my research assistant Patric Mkai, I set out to explore the mining practices and livelihoods of artisanal and small-scale gold miners in Tanzania, during the summer and autumn of 2019. The overall aim of the research is to understand how Nyarugusu, a small mining village in the northern part…

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Looking back into the fire

This is a blog post based on an earlier text from September 2019. It was published here as an engament with the contributions by COUPLED fellow Tiago Reis on his fieldwork in Brazil. Cover photo: NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using MODIS data from NASA EOSDIS/LANCE and GIBS/Worldview, Fire Information for Resource Management…

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Postcards from the field: Soybeans in Brazil

After a few months of traveling the soy fields of Brazil trying to figure out the complex relationships that drive agricultural supply chains, COUPLED PhD Tiago sent us a postcard with his initial reflections from his fieldwork. Written by Tiago Reis Every day I ask myself: What am I doing, and why am I doing…

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Why and how legal changes affect iconic protected areas?

Written by Siyu Qin As the cornerstone of conservation, protected areas (PA) are often expected to provide permanent protection to nature, biodiversity, and ecosystem services. In reality, however, legal changes made to loosen the PA restrictions (downgrade), shrink the PA boundaries (downsize), and remove the protection status (degazette) are widespread and through the history of…

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KOSMOS: Navigating the Sustainability Transformation

Written by Nicocas Roux (ESR 02) and Floris Leijtenen (ESR 05) On the occasion of the 250th birthday of the famous geographer Alexander von Humboldt, Humboldt University of Berlin hosted the KOSMOS conference between August 28 – 30, as part of a broader movement to help society navigate the sustainability transformation in the 21st century.…

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Eric Lambin awarded Blue Planet Prize 2019

Eric Lambin, earth system science professor at Universite Catholique de Louvain and Stanford University, has been honored with the 2019 Blue Planet Prize. This award is widely considered the Nobel Prize for science that contributes to solving global environmental problems. Eric’s current research tries to understand how globalization affects global land use, and how private…

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Becoming Qualitative Researchers

ATC 11 – Qualitative Research Methods at the Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern, 27 April 2019 Written by Sahar Malik, ESR 14 After three days of intense discussions and networking at the Global Land Programme Open Science Meeting 2019 in Bern, the group of ESRs spent a rainy Saturday at the Centre…

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The Art of Writing

Advanced Training Course “Scientific Writing”, 11-15 March 2019. Written by Finn Mempel. It is no secret that some of the most creative painters have looked for inspiration by visiting and immersing themselves into natural and cultural landscapes. While producing academic papers might seem a world apart from the color-splashing, emotive process of creating a piece…

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Book Publication on Telecoupling – How Researchers track Land-Use Change in a Globalised World

In a newly published book, COUPLED researchers examine how global land-use change can be better understood through ‘telecoupling’ Land use is essential to our well-being and therefore central to many of the largest sustainability challenges in the 21st Century, including global food security, climate change mitigation, access to clean water and air, and biodiversity conservation.…

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A busy week in breath-taking Barcelona

Advanced Training Course “Governance and Justice in Telecoupling”, 5-7 March 2019. Written by Joel Persson. On Tuesday morning, ESRs gathered at the Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals (or for the non-catalan-speakers amongst us, ICTA) at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona for nearly three days packed full with stimulating content, exciting presentations and non-stop intense…

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Postcards from the field: A gold mine in Tanzania

Written by Anna Frohn Pedersen. Postcards from a gold mine in Tanzania. In October 2018, I travelled to Tanzania, seeking to understand how an increased global focus on sustainable mining has affected small scale mining practices. What I encountered was a sector with much entrepreneurship and where hope and risk go hand in hand. It…

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Postcards from the field: Laos, October 2018

Written by Joel Persson. The Long Road Ahead – Reflections on a few weeks of preliminary fieldwork in Laos. When I arrived in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, I had, luckily, already established a few leads and contacts to get me going during these initial few days. While in Vientiane, I spent most of my…

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Getting theoretical

Advanced Training Course on Place-based Assessments of Land Systems Louvain-la-Neuve, 28-30 November 2018 After two intense days in Amsterdam, COUPLED PhD students boarded the Thalys train to Brussels before arriving with the local train in Louvain-la-Neuve on Tuesday evening. We almost lost our coordinator on the way, but it turned out that Prof.Jonas Nielsen had…

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We welcome our PhD fellow Nicolas at Institute of Social Ecology, Vienna

We are very happy to introduce our PhD fellow Nicolas! Nicolas Roux, supervised by Helmut Haberl, will be working on the research project Socio-ecological metabolism approaches to analyse telecoupling related to international trade (ESR 02), based at Institute of Social Ecology (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna). From its early stage, Nicolas’ research has always…

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We welcome our PhD fellow Gabi at University of Bern

We are very happy to introduce our PhD fellow Gabi! Gabi Sonderegger (ESR 09), supervised by Andreas Heinimann, will be working on the research project Characterisation and visualisation of telecouplings in Large Scale Land Acquisitions in Southeast Asia, based at University of Bern. Gabi has a multi-disciplinary background in Geography, Sustainable Development and International Development studies.…

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We welcome our PhD fellow Floris at Unilever UK

We are very happy to introduce our PhD fellow Floris! Floris Leijten (ESR 05), supervised by Sarah Sim (Unilever UK) and Peter Verburg (VU Amsterdam), will be working on the research project Measuring the effectiveness of corporate zero deforestation commitments in South East Asia, based at Unilever UK. Floris holds a MSc degree in Environmental Economics from…

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We welcome our PhD fellow Simon at University of Louvain

We are very happy to introduce our COUPLED fellow Simon! Simon Bager (ESR 3), supervised by Eric Lambin, will be working on How can private companies promote sustainable land use through their supply chains, based at the University of Louvain. Until recently, Simon worked at COWI, a Scandinavian environment and engineering consultancy with offices in…

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Looking back on our Summer School

I walked into a very complex world, and I, myself, cannot answer all of those interesting questions. But knowing that there is a whole network of people all pursuing slightly different pathways, looking at slightly different subjects, but all trying to answer this one question, is for me the most exciting part of COUPLED. Siyu Qin…

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We welcome our PhD fellow Siyu at Humboldt University Berlin

We are very happy to welcome a new COUPLED fellow, Siyu! Siyu Qin (ESR 01), supervised by Tobias Kuemmerle, will be working on the research project Understanding conservation telecouplings, based at Humboldt University, Berlin. Before COUPLED, Siyu was working at Conservation International’s Moore Center for Science as a researcher and project manager. Her work involved…

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We welcome our PhD fellow Tiago at University of Louvain

We are very happy to welcome a new COUPLED fellow, Tiago! Tiago Reis (ESR 10), supervised  by Patrick Meyfroidt, will be working on the research project 10, Stickiness in international trade of agricultural and forestry products, based at the University of Louvain. Until recently, Tiago worked at IPAM, a Brazilian science-based NGO located in Brasília and…

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New paper on spillover systems in a telecoupled Anthropocene in “Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability”

A new paper by our Advisory Board member Jianguo Liu et al. (among others our colleagues Ed Challies and Cecilie Friis) on Spillover systems in a telecoupled Anthropocene: typology, methods, and governance for global sustainability has been published. The paper is the outcome of a collaboration based on a symposium at the Conference of the International Association…

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We welcome our first fellow Joel at University of Copenhagen

We are very happy to welcome our first COUPLED fellow, Joel! Joel Persson (ESR 15), supervised  by Ole Mertz, will be working on the research project 15, International forest conservation discourses and local decisions as telecoupled systems, based at the University of Copenhagen. Joel completed his Master’s programme in International Development and Management at Lund…

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1 PhD position (3 years) in Governance Institutions for Sustainability in Globally Telecoupled Systems (Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany)

The  Research Group on Governance, Participation and Sustainability, affiliated both with Leuphana’s Faculty of Sustainability and with its Centre for the Study of Democracy,  seeks highly qualified and motivated candidates for 1 PhD position (3 years) in Governance Institutions for Sustainability in Globally Telecoupled Systems, starting from 01 July 2018 (preferred). We seek a candidate with an…

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1 PhD position (3 years) in Characterisation and visualisation of telecouplings in Large Scale Land Acquisitions in Southeast Asia (CDE, Bern)

The Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) at University of Bern (Switzerland) seeks highly qualified and motivated candidates for 1 PhD position (3 years) in Characterisation and visualisation of telecouplings in Large Scale Land Acquisitions in Southeast Asia, starting from 01 July 2018 (preferred). We seek a candidate with MSc in Geography, Sustainability Science, Environmental Science or related disciplines.…

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1 PhD position (3 years) in Socio-ecological metabolism approaches to analyse telecoupling related to international trade (SEC, Vienna)

The Institute of Social Ecology Vienna (SEC) at Alpen-Adria University Klagenfurt (UNI-KLU) seeks highly qualified and motivated candidates for 1 PhD position (3 years) in Socio-ecological metabolism approaches to analyse telecoupling related to international trade, starting from 01 September 2018 or earlier. We seek a candidate with an above-average MSc (or equivalent degree) in interdisciplinary environmental sciences such…

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Special issue on “Telecoupling: A new frontier for Global Sustainability” in Ecology & Society

The first papers of a special issue on Telecoupling: A new frontier for Global Sustainability in Ecology & Society have now been published and are available online: https://www.ecologyandsociety.org/issues/view.php?sf=125. It was guest-edited by Jack Liu, one of our Advisory Board Member. We are happy that Cecilie Friis and Jonas Ø Nielsen contribute to the Telecoupling Issue…

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The application window is now closed

Thank you very much for submitting applications for the COUPLED Innovative Training Network We do appreciate the time that you invested in this application. The application window is now closed. But please check our website and social media channels for updated information in case we might re-open the call for some of the positions: http://coupled-itn.eu/. Thanks…

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Become part of a new generation of young scientists to solve sustainability challenges in land use – the call for 15 PhD positions is open now!

Start you PhD with us!   Are you interested in land-use change?   Would you like to be trained in the telecoupling framework and be on the forefront of understanding processes and actors that influence land-use in an interconnected world?   Would you like to become an expert in trans- and interdisciplinary concepts and methodologies?…

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COUPLED will kick off in 2018

The network “COUPLED – Operationalising Telecoupling for Solving Sustainability Challenges for Land Use” is a joint graduate school of Humboldt University in Berlin, other European universities and partner organisations from business and civil society. It is funded by the European Union. The program will run until 2022 and will train outstanding PhD students in trans-…

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