Stockholms universitet

Henrik ÖsterblomProfessor


I urval från Stockholms universitets publikationsdatabas

  • Transnational corporations and the challenge of biosphere stewardship

    2019. Carl Folke (et al.). Nature Ecology & Evolution 3 (10), 1396-1403


    Sustainability within planetary boundaries requires concerted action by individuals, governments, civil society and private actors. For the private sector, there is concern that the power exercised by transnational corporations generates, and is even central to, global environmental change. Here, we ask under which conditions transnational corporations could either hinder or promote a global shift towards sustainability. We show that a handful of transnational corporations have become a major force shaping the global intertwined system of people and planet. Transnational corporations in agriculture, forestry, seafood, cement, minerals and fossil energy cause environmental impacts and possess the ability to influence critical functions of the biosphere. We review evidence of current practices and identify six observed features of change towards 'corporate biosphere stewardship', with significant potential for upscaling. Actions by transnational corporations, if combined with effective public policies and improved governmental regulations, could substantially accelerate sustainability efforts.

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  • Emergence of a global science-business initiative for ocean stewardship

    2017. Henrik Österblom (et al.). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 114 (34), 9038-9043


    The ocean represents a fundamental source of micronutrients and protein for a growing world population. Seafood is a highly traded and sought after commodity on international markets, and is critically dependent on healthy marine ecosystems. A global trend of wild stocks being overfished and in decline, as well as multiple sustainability challenges associated with a rapid growth of aquaculture, represent key concerns in relation to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Existing efforts aimed to improve the sustainability of seafood production have generated important progress, primarily at the local and national levels, but have yet to effectively address the global challenges associated with the ocean. This study highlights the importance of transnational corporations in enabling transformative change, and thereby contributes to advancing the limited understanding of large-scale private actors within the sustainability science literature. We describe how we engaged with large seafood producers to coproduce a global science-business initiative for ocean stewardship. We suggest that this initiative is improving the prospects for transformative change by providing novel links between science and business, between wild-capture fisheries and aquaculture, and across geographical space. We argue that scientists can play an important role in facilitating change by connecting knowledge to action among global actors, while recognizing risks associated with such engagement. The methods developed through this case study contribute to identifying key competences in sustainability science and hold promises for other sectors as well.

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  • Transnational Corporations as 'Keystone Actors' in Marine Ecosystems

    2015. Henrik Österblom (et al.). PLoS ONE 10 (5)


    Keystone species have a disproportionate influence on the structure and function of ecosystems. Here we analyze whether a keystone-like pattern can be observed in the relationship between transnational corporations and marine ecosystems globally. We show how thirteen corporations control 11-16% of the global marine catch (9-13 million tons) and 19-40% of the largest and most valuable stocks, including species that play important roles in their respective ecosystem. They dominate all segments of seafood production, operate through an extensive global network of subsidiaries and are profoundly involved in fisheries and aquaculture decision-making. Based on our findings, we define these companies as keystone actors of the Anthropocene. The phenomenon of keystone actors represents an increasingly important feature of the human-dominated world. Sustainable leadership by keystone actors could result in cascading effects throughout the entire seafood industry and enable a critical transition towards improved management of marine living resources and ecosystems.

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  • A transition to sustainable ocean governance

    2020. T. B. Rudolph (et al.). Nature Communications 11 (1)


    Human wellbeing relies on the Biosphere, including natural resources provided by ocean ecosystems. As multiple demands and stressors threaten the ocean, transformative change in ocean governance is required to maintain the contributions of the ocean to people. Here we illustrate how transition theory can be applied to ocean governance. We demonstrate how current economic and social systems can adapt to existing pressures and shift towards ocean stewardship through incorporation of niche innovations within and across economic sectors and stakeholder communities. These novel approaches support an emergent but purposeful transition and suggest a clear path to a thriving and vibrant relationship between humans and the ocean. Oceans provide important natural resources, but the management and governance of the ocean is complex and the ecosystem is suffering as a result. The authors discuss current barriers to sustainable ocean governance and suggest pathways forward.

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