Bridging new sustainable development goals, global agendas and landscape stewardship: The roles of politics, ethics and sustainability practice

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

5 Scopus citations


Engaging the relations of landscape stewardship to global sustainability requires the integrated consideration of diverse sociocultural spaces, social-ecological systems and geographic scales. Most recently the overarching global agenda is set forth in the new United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as adopted and implemented since January 2016 (Ford 2015). The seventeen priorities of the SDGs, displayed in Table 16.1, are motivated by comprehensive UN targets to eradicate world poverty, enable food security and secure human wellbeing. The compilation of the UN SDGs is designed to address the entwined challenges of global transformations that are accelerating in the context of the planetary Anthropocene (Griggs et al. 2013). Issues of poverty and food security, for example, are powerfully impacting the landscapes of millions of individuals through the combination of socioeconomic transitions as well as global climate change (Fig. 16.1). Taken as a whole the UN’s new global SDGs are chosen to attain the so-called triple bottom-line of economic development, environmental sustainability and social inclusion (Sachs 2012). Yet this triadic objective, coined the win-win-win scenario, has become as resolutely difficult to reach as it is recurrently compelling since at least the 1986 Brundtland Report. The immediate challenge that motivates this chapter is to advance new understandings of landscape stewardship potentially applicable to the UN SDGs and other global sustainability agendas (Fig. 16.2). Without the broad-based understanding of landscape stewardship, the global sustainability agendas risk remaining lofty lists that are encompassing and aspirational while they can also be seen as resembling decades old development discourses among international agencies that include the UN and counterpart institutions. In addition, the SDGs are similar to previous formulations insofar as they articulate an aspirational vision yet are part of the continuation of dominant global development-and-environment discourses (Adger et al. 2001). The latter fail to capture broader ethical and political dimensions that are required to bring landscape studies and the environmental and ecological sciences into newer dialogues about the global scope of the meanings and practices of stewardship. As a consequence, this chapter seeks to develop and apply the kind of integrated approach of landscape stewardship needed for the critically informed, constructive and practical engagement with the SDGs and related global agendas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Science and Practice of Landscape Stewardship
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781316499016
ISBN (Print)9781107142268
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)


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