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The telecoupling concept has been proposed to describe socio-economic and environmental interactions, flows and feedbacks over distance and across scales that cause change in otherwise separated land systems. As an analytical framework, the telecoupling framework brings together a systemic perspective on land-use change with flow- and network-oriented analytical approaches. As such, it is a clear and concrete response to the scientific and applied need for interdisciplinary exchange to tackle the challenges of global interconnectivity and (un)sustainability in land-use change.
Yet, while methodological and conceptual advancements have been made, and an emerging body of empirical studies is examining telecoupling in land-use systems, more collaboratory research is urgently needed in order to 1) foster a better understanding of how global interconnectivity influences land-use change in particular places and at particular moments in time; 2) capture and account for distant, unexpected feedbacks and spillovers that challenge social and environmental sustainability and 3) enhance evidence-based decision- and policy-making through transformative land governance initiatives for the sustainable management of land.
The specific objectives of this Working Group are:
We rely on land to produce food, derive shelter, energy and capital, and land constitutes a source of meaning, identity and belonging. Yet, while there is in principle land enough to satisfy current and future populations’ needs, the distribution of land resources across the globe is uneven, and people’s access to land and land-related benefits is likewise very unequal. The pressure on land resources in many regions of the world is increasing; to a large extent exacerbated by a number of other spatially distributed processes, including population growth, urbanisation, changing consumption patterns, climate change impacts, biodiversity and carbon conservation efforts, as well as economic and cultural globalisation. These social, economic and environmental processes lead to new types of interconnectivity between places around the world, either intentionally when different powerful actors seek new locations to meet their various land demands or as unintended spill-over processes in the form of displacements, leakages or cascade effects of land use decisions made elsewhere.
Building a better understanding of how global interconnectivity – or telecouplings – shapes the pressure on land in various places, the spatially distributed trade-offs between different land uses and the implications for social and environmental sustainability is therefore a key challenge and priority area of investigation for Land System Science. Telecouplings furthermore represent a significant challenge in relation to the identification of leverage points for transformative interventions into unsustainable land-use practices and for the design of appropriate land governance mechanisms.
The GLP Telecoupling Working Group will hold its third webinar on September 4th to discuss the progress and challenges of modelling telecoupled systems, by presenting two different modelling attempts of simulating land use changes in Brazil and China through the flow of international soybean trade.