Stockholm university

Peter Søgaard Jørgensen

About me

Peter specializes in the intersection between evolution and sustainability with topics including emerging pests and pathogens (including resistance evolution), sustainable development, global environmental change and the evolution and sustainability in and of the Anthropocene.

At Stockholm Resilience Centre leads  Anthropocene dynamics research theme. Peter is deputy executive director of the Global Economic Dynamics and the Biosphere programme at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences where leads the research theme on global health and biosphere stewardship.

A recent focus of his work has been how society can live with antibiotic and pesticide resistance in the context of global sustainable development. This work has taken place through leadership of a SESYNC synthesis project (Living with resistance) and coordination of a JPIAMR funded project (AMResilience). As part of this research he has introduced the concept of coevolutionary governance; led work on identifying so-called planetary boundaries for antibiotic and pesticide resistance; called for considering antibiotic and pesticide susceptibility as regulating ecosystem services; and explored what a societal transformation to a pro-microbial planet might look like, where humans enhance the than many ecosystem services microorganisms provide.

He is currently working on a book on evolution and sustainability in the Anthropocene with Princeton University Press

To read more please visit (personal professional) and


A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • Changing antibiotic resistance

    2017. Peter Søgaard Jørgensen (et al.). Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 25, 66-76


    Decades of overuse, misuse, and environmental antibiotic pollution has increased the global pool of resistant bacteria. With estimates of hundreds of thousands of annual human deaths and a lack of new drugs to replace old ones, antimicrobial resistance probably constitutes one of the greatest human health and sustainability challenges of the 21st century. To safeguard treatable infections, a deliberate social-ecological transformation is needed toward stewardship of the global microbiome and long-term sustainable use of antibiotics. We review the foundation for such a transformation using recent insights from sustainability science, evolutionary biology and health, and the understanding of human interactions with microbes as two intertwined complex adaptive systems. A coherent strategy should acknowledge humans as the source of the world's strongest evolutionary force, reflect that antibiotics are building blocks of modern health systems, and strive to build social-ecological resilience to minimize levels of resistance and avoid over dependency on innovation of new drugs. Bottom up opportunities for seeding the transformation include participatory monitoring and stewardship of our personal and environmental microbiomes, as well as collective consumer action. Top down priorities include regular international institutions to coordinate multi-level action.

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  • Reframing the sustainable development goals to achieve sustainable development in the Anthropocene-a systems approach

    2018. Michelle M. L. Lim, Peter Søgaard Jørgensen, Carina A. Wyborn. Ecology & society 23 (3)


    Griggs et al. (2013) redefine sustainable development as development that meets the needs of the present while safeguarding Earth's life-support system, on which the welfare of current and future generations depend. We recommend this as the end goal that the United Nations sustainable development goals (SDGs) should strive to achieve. Integration across the SDGs is less than what is required from a science perspective. Effective implementation of the SDGs will require States to attend to trade-offs and overlaps. We argue that continuous failure to address integration within the SDGs will jeopardize realization of this ultimate end goal. Therefore, we adopt a systems approach to identify gaps and connections across the goals and targets of the SDGs as well as leverage points for effective intervention. We triangulate across methods of critical analysis, conceptual modeling, and keyword network analysis to draw out seven overarching directions that could provide a prioritization framework to enhance efficient implementation of the SDGs. Our results identify main gaps as exclusion of key actors (e.g., corporations) and issues (e.g., intergenerational equity and population); inadequate reconciliation of economic growth with maintaining the Earth system; and deficient consideration of the relationship with international law. Conceptual mapping identifies education and innovation; governance and implementation; sustainable consumption and production; and addressing the key drivers of climate change as key leverage points. The keyword analysis highlights greater integration within the SDGs than what appears at face value. Keywords access, women, resources,and finance feature across the SDGs and provide further leverage points. Targeting these issues will facilitate realization of a high proportion of SDGs and correspondingly could have a disproportional impact on effective SDG implementation. We conclude that the success of the SDGs needs to be evaluated by the extent to which it contributes to human development while advancing protection of planetary must-haves for current and future generations.

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  • Antibiotic and pesticide susceptibility and the Anthropocene operating space

    2018. Peter Søgaard Jørgensen (et al.).


    Rising levels of antimicrobial and pesticide resistance increasingly undermine human health and systems for biomass production, and emphasize the sustainability challenge of preserving organisms susceptible to these biocides. In this Review, we introduce key concepts and examine dynamics of biocide susceptibility that must be governed to address this challenge. We focus on the impact of biocides on the capacity of susceptible organisms to prevent spread of resistance, and we then review how biocide use affects a broader suite of ecosystem services. Finally, we introduce and assess the state of what we term the Anthropocene operating space of biocide susceptibility, a framework for assessing the potential of antibiotic and pesticide resistance to undermine key functions of human society. Based on current trends in antibiotic, insecticide and herbicide resistance, we conclude that the states of all six assessed variables are beyond safe zones, with three variables surpassed regionally or globally.

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  • Evolution in the Anthropocene

    2019. Peter Søgaard Jørgensen, Carl Folke, Scott P. Carroll. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 50, 527-546


    The Anthropocene biosphere constitutes an unprecedented phase in the evolution of life on Earth with one species, humans, exerting extensive control. The increasing intensity of anthropogenic forces in the twenty-first century has widespread implications for attempts to govern both human-dominated ecosystems and the last remaining wild ecosystems. Here, we review how evolutionary biology can inform governance and policies in the Anthropocene, focusing on five governance challenges that span biodiversity, environmental management, food and other biomass production, and human health. The five challenges are: (a) evolutionary feedbacks, (b) maintaining resilience, (c) alleviating constraints, (d) coevolutionary disruption, and (e) biotechnology. Strategies for governing these dynamics will themselves have to be coevolutionary, as eco-evolutionary and social dynamics change in response to each other.

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  • Governing evolution

    2020. Yves Carriere (et al.). Ambio 49 (1), 1-16


    Cooperative management of pest susceptibility to transgenic Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) crops is pursued worldwide in a variety of forms and to varying degrees of success depending on context. We examine this context using a comparative socioecological analysis of resistance management in Australia, Brazil, India, and the United States. We find that a shared understanding of resistance risks among government regulators, growers, and other actors is critical for effective governance. Furthermore, monitoring of grower compliance with resistance management requirements, surveillance of resistance, and mechanisms to support rapid implementation of remedial actions are essential to achieve desirable outcomes. Mandated resistance management measures, strong coordination between actors, and direct linkages between the group that appraises resistance risks and growers also appear to enhance prospects for effective governance. Our analysis highlights factors that could improve current governance systems and inform other initiatives to conserve susceptibility as a contribution to the cause of public good.

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  • Crop rotation mitigates impacts of corn rootworm resistance to transgenic Bt corn

    2020. Yves Carrière (et al.). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 117 (31), 18385-18392


    Transgenic crops that produce insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) can suppress pests and reduce insecticide sprays, but their efficacy is reduced when pests evolve resistance. Although farmers plant refuges of non-Bt host plants to delay pest resistance, this tactic has not been sufficient against the western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera. In the United States, some populations of this devastating pest have rapidly evolved practical resistance to Cry3 toxins and Cry34/35Ab, the only Bt toxins in commercially available corn that kill rootworms. Here, we analyzed data from 2011 to 2016 on Bt corn fields producing Cry3Bb alone that were severely damaged by this pest in 25 cropreporting districts of Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota. The annual mean frequency of these problem fields was 29 fields (range 7 to 70) per million acres of Cry3Bb corn in 2011 to 2013, with a cost of $163 to $227 per damaged acre. The frequency of problem fields declined by 92% in 2014 to 2016 relative to 2011 to 2013 and was negatively associated with rotation of corn with soybean. The effectiveness of corn rotation for mitigating Bt resistance problems did not differ significantly between crop-reporting districts with versus without prevalent rotation-resistant rootworm populations. In some analyses, the frequency of problem fields was positively associated with planting of Cry3 corn and negatively associated with planting of Bt corn producing both a Cry3 toxin and Cry34/35Ab. The results highlight the central role of crop rotation for mitigating impacts of D. v. virgifera resistance to Bt corn.

    Read more about Crop rotation mitigates impacts of corn rootworm resistance to transgenic Bt corn
  • Coevolutionary Governance of Antibiotic and Pesticide Resistance

    2020. Peter Søgaard Jørgensen (et al.). Trends in Ecology & Evolution 35 (6), 484-494


    Development of new biocides has dominated human responses to evolution of antibiotic and pesticide resistance. Increasing and uniform biocide use, the spread of resistance genes, and the lack of new classes of compounds indicate the importance of navigating toward more sustainable coevolutionary dynamics between human culture and species that evolve resistance. To inform this challenge, we introduce the concept of coevolutionary governance and propose three priorities for its implementation: (i) new norms and mental models for lowering use, (ii) diversifying practices to reduce directional selection, and (iii) investment in collective action institutions to govern connectivity. We highlight the availability of solutions that facilitate broader sustainable development, which for antibiotic resistance include improved sanitation and hygiene, strong health systems, and decreased meat consumption.

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Show all publications by Peter Søgaard Jørgensen at Stockholm University