Workers harvesting bananas for export to the Chinese market, Luang Namtha Province, Laos, February 2018. Photo: Cecilie Friis
Workers harvesting bananas for export to the Chinese market, Luang Namtha Province, Laos, February 2018. Photo: Cecilie Friis

Telecoupling Research Towards Sustainable Transformation of Land Systems

Short Description

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.

Goals and Objectives

The specific objectives of this Working Group are:

  1. Provide a platform for the diverse group of Land System Scientists working on telecoupling related questions to foster better interdisciplinary exchange and the consolidation of knowledge on methodological, conceptual and empirical issues related to telecoupling of land use systems.
  2. Advance the understanding of challenges and opportunities presented by telecoupling to sustainable land-use change
  3. Identify potential best practices and methodologies for designing transformative interventions into telecoupled land use systems that fosters sustainable development.
  4. Bringing together early and advanced-stage researchers
  5. Communicating telecoupling research activities and advances to non-academic stakeholders

GLP Themes: Telecoupling of land use systems, Land governance


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The organizers and several participants of a recent Working Group Meet & Greet put together this blog post summarizing the discussions held during the event. Although it will take time to make sense of the myriad changes the COVID-19 pandemic has brought and continues to bring into their lives as scientists, and into the socio-ecological land systems that they study, they identified several likely patterns of long-term change.   Read full post

Related Information


May 29, 2021
Friday, June 18, 2021 -
3:00pm to 4:00pm

The GLP Working Group for Telecoupling Research will use their sixth webinar to start a conversation on transdisciplinary research designs in complex settings in relation to telecoupling research and in the wider land system science community. The webinar will include three short inputs from GLP members, as well as cross-cutting discussions.

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May 10, 2021
Environmental Policy Lab (EPL) at ETH Zurich

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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

ETH Zurich's Environmental Policy Lab (EPL), chaired by SSC Member Prof. Dr. Rachael Garrett, seeks to hire a full-time team member to support their quantitative data analysis projects, initially for a 2-year position (start date negotiable between July and October 2021) with possibility for renewal. Deadline to apply: 15 June.

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April 18, 2021

The GLP working group Telecoupling Towards Sustainable Transformation held its fifth webinar in April 2021 to discuss international trade flows in relation to land resources and ecosystem functioning.

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Working Group Coordinators


Working Group Members