Photo: Nasa

The Global Economic Dynamics and the Biosphere programme (GEDB) was established as a five-year research programme at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. It is funded by the Family Erling-Persson Foundation, to address the economic dynamics of global change and its implications for a sustainable future.

Beginning at large scale with the Industrial Revolution, human influence is now affecting every aspect of the Earth and the biosphere on a scale that matches the great forces of nature. A growing number of scientists believe we have entered a new geological era – the Anthropocene. Since "the great acceleration” in the middle of the 20th Century, an expansion of human wellbeing and rapid development of human knowledge have taken place. One of the great challenges in the Anthropocene is to continue such positive development in a way that enables existing and future generations, including those which still live in poverty, to benefit from this expansion. This requires recognition that in a globalized world, the economy, society, technology and the environment interact in new ways. A core task and challenge is therefore to manage economic development and use of natural resources so as to maximize wellbeing within the frames set by the capacity of the biosphere to sustain this development.

Knowledge about the interplay between global environmental change and human affairs, from local to global levels, is greatly in demand from governments, the business sector and international organisations such as the United Nations. GEDB aims to contribute to a better understanding of this interplay by combining economic studies with a range of disciplines to produce high-quality science of relevance to society. GEDB builds on the recognition that social systems are intricately and inextricably linked to natural systems and embedded in the biosphere. Viewed from that perspective, any attempts to move towards sustainable futures need to recognize both the social and ecological aspects of sustainability challenges. Much of the research from which GEDB draws its vision and on which it builds its work refers to what we term social-ecological systems. 

Read more in the GEDB Progress Report 2013-2015