Call for Papers: IOPscience Focus Issue on Pathways for Transformation and Stewardship of Land Systems for Sustainability

Related GLP Member: Rachael Garrett, Ariane de Bremond, Patrick Meyfroidt, Peter Messerli, Nicholas Magliocca, Erle Ellis

Guest Editors

  • Rachael GarrettUniversity of Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • Ariane de BremondUniversity of Maryland Baltimore, United States
  • Patrick MeyfroidtUC Louvain, Belgium
  • Peter MesserliWyss Academy, University of Bern, Switzerland
  • Nick MaglioccaUniversity of Alabama, United States
  • Erle EllisUniversity of Maryland Baltimore, United States


While land system science has progressed significantly in diagnosing current states and trends in land systems, identifying the different normative dimensions influencing these trends, understanding the impacts of existing interventions intended to improve land system sustainability, and identifying the potential trade-offs of different policies and future scenarios, there is considerably less research on the question of "how" exactly transformations to more sustainable land systems can be achieved. There is a greater need to better understand how competing visions for the land can be reconciled and to explore the full range of solution space for sustainability. This also implies going beyond individual policy approaches to envisioning and executing transformations in the structural factors shaping land systems including, for example, colonial legacies, capitalist and economic growth oriented economic systems, consumptive cultures, and unjust or undemocratic political systems.

Here we seek articles that address any of the following topics: i) expanding visions of future land systems and scenarios development (Metzger et al., 2018; Hebinck et al., 2018; Pereira et al., 2018) as well as improving links between new visions and decision-making (Cork et al. 2023), and overcoming the growing gap between knowledge and implementation; ii) 'bright spots' or seeds, i.e., contexts, situations, initiatives, where some favorable processes or outcomes appear and which can provide valuable lessons for other contexts (Bennett et al., 2016; Frei et al., 2018); iii) identification of wickedness, complexities, and uncertainties in land system transformation pathways and how to overcome them (Olsson et al., 2019); iv) how to design land system interventions that target multiple leverage points and positive socio-ecological tipping points (Fischer and Riechers 2019; Abson et al. 2017; Meadows 1999) for transformation and resilience, especially in light of new competing demands on land for the clean energy transition and as nature-based solutions to climate and development challenges; and/or vi) how land systems transformations intersect with or question calls for post-growth, degrowth, or a-growth propositions (Hickel et al., 2022) and calls for circular economies (Breure, Lijzen, and Maring 2018), doughnut economics (Raworth 2017), convivial conservation (Büscher and Fletcher 2019), and socio-bioeconomies (de Assis Costa Jr. 2022). Work that addresses how to include these concepts in scenarios and/or downscale the ideas, e.g. (Turner and Wills 2022) is especially welcome.


Abson, David J., Joern Fischer, Julia Leventon, Jens Newig, Thomas Schomerus, Ulli Vilsmaier, Henrik von Wehrden, et al. 2017. "Leverage Points for Sustainability Transformation." Ambio 46 (1): 30–39.

Assis Costa Jr., Francisco de. 2022. "Bioeconomy for the Amazon: Concepts, Limits, and Trends for a Proper Definition of the Tropical Forest." WRI Brazil Working Paper.

Breure, A. M., J. P. A. Lijzen, and L. Maring. 2018. "Soil and Land Management in a Circular Economy." Science of The Total Environment 624 (May): 1125–30.

Büscher, Bram, and Robert Fletcher. 2019. "Towards Convivial Conservation." Conservation & Society 17 (3): 283–96.

Cork, Steven, Carla Alexandra, Jorge G. Alvarez-Romero, Elena M. Bennett, Marta Berbés-Blázquez, Erin Bohensky, Barbara Bok, et al. 2023. "Exploring Alternative Futures in the Anthropocene." Annual Review of Environment and Resources 48 (1): null.

Fischer, Joern, and Maraja Riechers. 2019. "A Leverage Points Perspective on Sustainability." People and Nature 1 (1): 115–20.

Meadows, Donella H. 1999. "Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System." The Academy for Systems Change (blog). 1999.

Raworth, Kate. 2017. Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist. Chelsea Green Publishing.

Turner, Rachel A, and Jane Wills. 2022. "Downscaling Doughnut Economics for Sustainability Governance." Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 56 (June): 101180.

Submission process

All focus issue articles are subject to the same review process as regular Environmental Research: Food System articles. Please submit your article via our online submission form. You should choose Sustainable food systems in a changing climate from the drop-down menu.

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

Deadline for submissions

Submissions will be accepted until 01 May 2024 however submissions earlier than this date are encouraged.

Publication charges

As part of our commitment to open science, IOP Publishing is covering the article publication charge (APC) for all articles published in the journal.