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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In this blog post, Dr. Janina Grabs and PhD candidate Sam Levy share some first insights from their work on the effectiveness of zero deforestation commitments (ZDCs) in the Brazilian Amazon’s cattle sector and the Indonesian palm oil sector. The blog post summarises their work as presented in a webinar hosted by the GLP Telecoupling Research Working Group in December 2020.   Read full post

Related Information


February 15, 2021
Monday, February 7, 2022 (All day) to Friday, February 11, 2022 (All day)

In this workshop we aim to challenge traditional boundaries to develop interdisciplinary and cross-scale frameworks for the next generation of socio-ecological systems models.

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January 17, 2021

In this article, the researchers applied a network lens to reveal how visuals have been used in the scientific literature to portray telecoupling phenomena. Based on this, they critically reflect on current visualization practices in telecoupling research, as well as the underlying mental models that they represent. Finally, they provide practical recommendations for the development and use of visualizations to communicate knowledge on cross-scale socio-ecological interactions.

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November 15, 2020
Tuesday, December 8, 2020 - 2:30pm

The GLP Telecoupling Working Group will hold its fourth webinar to discuss the challenges and opportunities related to governing telecoupling from the perspective of company policies to reduce commodity-driven forest loss.

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January - March 2021
October - December 2020
July - September 2020
April - June 2020

Webinar 1: The FABIO Model (September 2019)
Webinar 2: Telecoupling Challenges in Conservation (June 2020) (no recording)
Webinar 3: Modelling Telecoupling Land Use Changes (September 2020)
Webinar 4:
Governing telecouplings - Discussing evidence on company policies for reducing commodity-driven forest loss (December 2020)

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