ESR 04:
Impacts of changing lifestyles and ecosystem service demands

Home Institution: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands
Principal Supervisor: Dr. Ir. CJE (Nynke) Schulp
Co-Supervisor: Dr. Thomas Kastner
Application date: 16/10/2017-24/11/2017
Starting date: 01/07/2018 or earlier
Duration: 3 years (possibly extended by an earlier start)


Socio-economic trends and personal choices shape people’s lifestyles and play a large role in explaining people’s use of ecosystem services. For example, income increases are known to influence consumption, but also choosing a specific diet or having a preference for local or sustainable products influence the use of resources and ecosystem services. It is unclear how big this role of lifestyle is in explaining ecosystem services use, and how changing lifestyles are impacting ecosystems far away from the consumer’s location. In an increasingly telecoupled world there is an increasing need to account for distal impacts of consumption and lifestyle changes, but there are few tools or indicators for doing so.

This ESR will:

  • Analyse how changes in lifestyles steer demands for ecosystem services.
  • Analyse where these ecosystem services are sourced and how land system changes that enable their supply impacts communities living in service-providing areas.
  • Map the current demand and supply of ecosystem services in benefiting and providing areas and explore mismatches between these to evaluate the sustainability of service use.
  • Develop and analyze scenarios of how (distal) ecosystem service demand may react to lifestyle and socio-economic change. A combination of statistical analysis of survey data, global trade databases, land system modelling and ecosystem service modelling will be applied.

The ESR position will assess lifestyle changes translated into differences in consumers’ demand for key ecosystem services, and visualisation techniques to communicate ecosystem service telecoupling to different stakeholders, such as multinationals or governments. The ESR will be based at VU Amsterdam and supervised by Dr. Nynke Schulp (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) and Dr. Thomas Kastner (Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre Frankfurt / Main; Institute of Social Ecology (UNI Klagenfurt). Secondments will take place at the Institute of Social Ecology (UNI KLU) and at Unilever.


VU Amsterdam is one of the leading institutions for higher education in Europe and aims to be inspiring, innovative, and committed to societal welfare. It comprises ten faculties and has teaching facilities for 23,000 students. The Environmental Geography group is part of the Institute for Environmental Studies. In an international evaluation in 2014 the group was rated as excellent both on scientific criteria as well as in making societal impact. Research foci are the analysis and modelling of land use change and the assessment of ecosystem services. The group has a leading role in international networks in these fields. The Environmental Geography group focusses on addressing multiple spatial and temporal scales in the analysis of global environmental change and in bridging science and policy dimensions.

We seek

A candidate with an above-average MSc (or equivalent degree) in environmental science or geography. Experience with statistical data analysis and spatial analysis is required. We expect a strong interest in land use science and sustainability issues, and interdisciplinary research.


Dr Nynke Schulp

Do you consider applying?

In any case please check the eligibility criteria in the first place.

To submit your application, please fill in the requested data in the online application form, upload your application file and submit your application.

Download and carefully read the Guide for Applicants and the ITN Programme’s information note for all specific information on the application and selection procedure.