Call for Abstracts: Archetypes of Sustainable Land Use and Governance

Related GLP Member: Christoph Oberlack, Luigi Piemontese, Diana Sietz, Tomas Vaclavik

This Focus Issue of Environmental Research Letters consolidates archetypes of sustainable land use and governance in order to provide a state-of-the-art knowledge resource to transform land use systems towards sustainability across world regions. It will advance knowledge in four thematic priority areas of land use systems: telecoupled land systems; land governance; farming systems; and interactions between land, food, climate and biodiversity. 

Guest Editors

Christoph Oberlack, University of Bern, Switzerland
Simona Pedde, Wageningen University, The Netherlands
Luigi Piemontese, Stockholm Resilience Center, Sweden
Diana Sietz, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany
Tomas Vaclavik, Palacky University Olomouc, Czech Republic


Land use systems are pivotal for fostering necessary sustainability transformations at local to global scales. However, knowledge about effective strategies to foster sustainability transformations of land use systems currently remain dispersed among highly contextualized case studies. This Focus Issue consolidates archetypes of sustainable land use and governance in order to provide a state-of-the-art knowledge resource to transform land use systems towards sustainability across world regions.

Archetypes of (un)sustainable land use and governance depict patterns of factors and processes that commonly shape the (un)sustainability of land use systems across cases and contexts. The archetypes approach is a methodological approach to generalize knowledge from cases and case studies in context-sensitive ways (Magliocca et al. 2018, Oberlack et al. 2019) and to build middle-range theories of land use systems (Meyfroidt et al. 2018). Archetype analysis can draw on a portfolio of methods (Sietz et al. 2019) and design criteria (Eisenack et al. 2019). Insights into archetypes can transfer knowledge about solutions for sustainable development across contexts (Eisenack 2012, Vaclavik et al. 2016, Sietz et al. 2017, Rocha et al. 2020).

This Focus Issue will advance knowledge about archetypes of (un)sustainability in four thematic priority areas of land use systems:

  • telecoupled land systems
  • land governance
  • farming systems
  • interactions between land, food, climate and biodiversity (e.g. with reference to Sustainable Development Goals)

This Focus Issue will address four major frontiers in current research on archetype analysis and transformations to sustainable land use systems: (i) advance middle-range theories of land use change and sustainable land use systems; (ii) spark methodological innovations in archetype analysis (e.g. innovative mixed methods approaches, integrate pattern identification, diagnosis and scenario building approaches; innovative ways of validation); (iii) targeted insights into scaling and transfer of sustainable land solutions; (iv) inspire change agents for transformations towards sustainable land use systems.

Submission process and timeline

  • Stage 1: Expressions of interest by 11 December 2020

Expressions of interest are due by 11 December 2020. Please submit a working title, authors' names and an abstract of 200–250 words to if you are interested in contributing to this focus issue, or approach one of the Guest Editors above directly.

  • Stage 2: International research workshop for high-quality papers 3-5 February 2021

Authors are encouraged to participate at the 4th International Research Workshop on Archetypes of Sustainable Development, 3-5 February 2021, at the Stockholm Resilience Center, Sweden ( This workshop will provide a prime opportunity for authors to get in-depth feedback and to maximize the coherence and quality of the Special Feature contributions. Participation in the workshop is strongly encouraged, though not mandatory, for authors wishing to contribute to the Special Feature. We plan for an on-site workshop with online elements, but if COVID-related travel restrictions remain in place, the workshop will be held fully online.

  • Stage 3: Submission of articles by 30 June 2021

Submissions will be accepted until 30 June 2021 however submissions earlier than this date are encouraged. ERL will publish this focus collection incrementally, adding new articles to this webpage as and when they are accepted for publication following peer review. Therefore, if you submit early in the period your article will not be held up waiting for other articles.

Articles submitted to focus collections must be of the same format and meet the same publication criteria as regular research letters, perspectives and review articles in ERL. They are also subject to the same rigorous review process, high editorial standards and quality/novelty requirements. Please read the about the journal page for more information before submitting.

For more comprehensive information on preparing your article for submission and the options for submitting your article, please see our author guidelines.

All articles should be submitted using our online submission form. In the first step of the online form, under 'Manuscript Type' please select 'Focus on Archetypes of Sustainable Land Use and Governance' in the 'Select Special Issue' drop down box. In the 'File Upload' step, please include a separate justification statement outlining how your article satisfies the publication criteria for this journal (see the 'submission requirements' section on the about the journal page).

Article charge

ERL is an open access journal, completely free to read, and is funded solely by article publication charges. Authors should therefore be aware of the article publication charge for accepted and published articles, including those in focus collections. Full details about the article charge can be found on the publication charges page.