The Current Opinion journals were developed out of the recognition that it is increasingly difficult for specialists to keep up to date with the expanding volume of information published in their subject. Elsevier’s Current Opinion journals comprise of 26 leading titles in life sciences and adjacent fields.

Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability

5-Year Impact Factor: 5.024
Issues per year: 6 issues
Editorial Board

Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability

The Current Opinion journals were developed out of the recognition that it is increasingly difficult for specialists to keep up to date with the expanding volume of information published in their subject. In Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, we help the reader by providing in a systematic manner:

1. The views of experts on current advances in environmental sustainability in a clear and readable form.
2. Evaluations of the most interesting papers, annotated by experts, from the great wealth of original publications.

Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability aims to track the emergence of a new innovative sustainability science discipline by integrating across regional and global systems with their typical dimensions, human-environment interactions and management challenges. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability thus emphasises the actual interdisciplinary sustainability research approaches, the solutions it provides and their dissemination and application.

Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability aims to stimulate scientifically grounded, interdisciplinary, multi-scale debate and exchange of ideas. It will contain polished, concise and timely review and synthesis papers. Additionally, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability will continue to publish papers on strategic research plans of Future Earth ( and related global-change projects. It will thus serve as an invaluable source of information for researchers, lecturers, teachers, professionals, policy makers and students.

The subject of environmental sustainability is divided into 6 themed annual issues. Each theme helps to identify, understand and solve sustainability problems and are not mutually exclusive. The overlap results from the actual complexity of combining all the sustainability science dimensions and approaches. The themes are:

1. Environmental change issues;
2. Environmental change assessments;
3. System dynamics and sustainability;
4. Sustainability governance and transformation;
5. Sustainability challenges;
6. Sustainability science.

This set allows for flexible integration of natural sciences with the social sciences, humanities and engineering disciplines. The themes focus on major global-change systems and problems (Themes 1-3), the emerging new transdisciplinary sustainability science, as generated in Future Earth or as part of the evolving UN's sustainable development goals (Themes 4 and 5) and a more philosophical reflection on approaches of sustainability science (Theme 6).

Selection of topics to be reviewed:
Section Editors, who are major authorities in the field, are appointed by the Editors of the journal. They divide their section into a number of topics, ensuring that the field is comprehensively covered and that all issues of current importance are emphasised. Section Editors commission reviews from authorities on each topic that they have selected.

Authors write short review articles in which they present recent developments in their subject, emphasising the aspects that, in their opinion, are most important. In addition, they provide short annotations to the papers that they consider to be most interesting from all those published in their topic over the previous year.

Editorial Overview:
Section Editors write a short overview at the beginning of the section to introduce the reviews and to draw the reader's attention to any particularly interesting developments.

Ethics in Publishing: General Statement:
The Editor(s) and Publisher of this Journal believe that there are fundamental principles underlying scholarly or professional publishing. While this may not amount to a formal 'code of conduct', these fundamental principles with respect to the authors' paper are that the paper should:

i) be the authors' own original work, which has not been previously published elsewhere;
ii) reflect the authors' own research and analysis and do so in a truthful and complete manner;
iii) properly credit the meaningful contributions of co-authors and co-researchers;
iv) iv) not be submitted to more than one journal for consideration; and
v) be appropriately placed in the context of prior and existing research.

Of equal importance are ethical guidelines dealing with research methods and research funding, including issues dealing with informed consent, research subject privacy rights, conflicts of interest, and sources of funding. While it may not be possible to draft a 'code' that applies adequately to all instances and circumstances, we believe it useful to outline our expectations of authors and procedures that the Journal will employ in the event of questions concerning author conduct.

With respect to conflicts of interest, the Publisher now requires authors to declare any conflicts of interest that relate to papers accepted for publication in this Journal. A conflict of interest may exist when an author or the author's institution has a financial or other relationship with other people or organizations that may inappropriately influence the author's work. A conflict can be actual or potential and full disclosure to the Journal is the safest course. All submissions to the Journal must include disclosure of all relationships that could be viewed as presenting a potential conflict of interest. The Journal may use such information as a basis for editorial decisions and may publish such disclosures if they are believed to be important to readers in judging the manuscript. A decision may be made by the Journal not to publish on the basis of the declared conflict.

For more information, please refer to:

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The IPBES Conceptual Framework - connecting nature and people

© 2014 The Authors. The first public product of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is its Conceptual Framework. This conceptual and analytical tool, presented here in detail, will underpin all IPBES functions and provide structure and comparability to the syntheses that IPBES will produce at different spatial scales, on different themes, and in different regions. Salient innovative aspects of the IPBES Conceptual Framework are its transparent and…

Volume 14, Issue , 01 June 2015, Pp 1-16
Sandra Díaz | Sebsebe Demissew | Julia Carabias | Carlos Joly | Mark Lonsdale | Neville Ash | Anne Larigauderie | Jay Ram Adhikari | Salvatore Arico | András Báldi | Ann Bartuska | Ivar Andreas Baste | Adem Bilgin | Eduardo Brondizio | Kai M.A. Chan | Viviana Elsa Figueroa | Anantha Duraiappah | Markus Fischer | Rosemary Hill | Thomas Koetz | Paul Leadley | Philip Lyver | Georgina M. Mace | Berta Martin-Lopez | Michiko Okumura | Diego Pacheco | Unai Pascual | Edgar Selvin Pérez | Belinda Reyers | Eva Roth | Osamu Saito | Robert John Scholes | Nalini Sharma | Heather Tallis | Randolph Thaman | Robert Watson | Tetsukazu Yahara | Zakri Abdul Hamid | Callistus Akosim | Yousef Al-Hafedh | Rashad Allahverdiyev | Edward Amankwah | T. Stanley Asah | Zemede Asfaw | Gabor Bartus | Anathea L. Brooks | Jorge Caillaux | Gemedo Dalle | Dedy Darnaedi | Amanda Driver | Gunay Erpul | Pablo Escobar-Eyzaguirre | Pierre Failler | Ali Moustafa Mokhtar Fouda | Bojie Fu | Haripriya Gundimeda | Shizuka Hashimoto | Floyd Homer | Sandra Lavorel | Gabriela Lichtenstein | William Armand Mala | Wadzanayi Mandivenyi | Piotr Matczak | Carmel Mbizvo | Mehrasa Mehrdadi | Jean Paul Metzger | Jean Bruno Mikissa | Henrik Moller | Harold A. Mooney | Peter Mumby | Harini Nagendra | Carsten Nesshover | Alfred Apau Oteng-Yeboah | György Pataki | Marie Roué | Jennifer Rubis | Maria Schultz | Peggy Smith | Rashid Sumaila | Kazuhiko Takeuchi | Spencer Thomas | Madhu Verma | Youn Yeo-Chang | Diana Zlatanova

Globalization of land use: Distant drivers of land change and geographic displacement of land use

Several streams of research have recently converged to identify the growing importance of distant drivers of land change, interconnections between social-ecological systems that are separated geographically, and the indirect consequences of land use changes. Local to national-scale interventions to promote sustainable land use may have unintended effects owing to a displacement of land use within and across countries. Such leakage or 'indirect land use change' critically depends on…

Volume 5, Issue 5, 01 October 2013, Pp 438-444
Patrick Meyfroidt | Eric F. Lambin | Karl Heinz Erb | Thomas W. Hertel

Transdisciplinary global change research: The co-creation of knowledge for sustainability

The challenges formulated within the Future Earth framework set the orientation for research programmes in sustainability science for the next ten years. Scientific disciplines from natural and social science will collaborate both among each other and with relevant societal groups in order to define the important integrated research questions, and to explore together successful pathways towards global sustainability. Such collaboration will be based on transdisciplinarity and integrated…

Volume 5, Issue 3-4, 01 September 2013, Pp 420-431
Wolfram Mauser | Gernot Klepper | Martin Rice | Bettina Susanne Schmalzbauer | Heide Hackmann | Rik Leemans | Howard Moore

Neonicotinoids, bee disorders and the sustainability of pollinator services

In less than 20 years, neonicotinoids have become the most widely used class of insecticides with a global market share of more than 25%. For pollinators, this has transformed the agrochemical landscape. These chemicals mimic the acetylcholine neurotransmitter and are highly neurotoxic to insects. Their systemic mode of action inside plants means phloemic and xylemic transport that results in translocation to pollen and nectar. Their wide application, persistence in soil and water and potential…

Volume 5, Issue 3-4, 01 September 2013, Pp 293-305
Jeroen P. Van der Sluijs | Noa Simon-Delso | Dave Goulson | Laura Maxim | Jean Marc Bonmatin | Luc P. Belzunces

Challenges and opportunities in mapping land use intensity globally

Future increases in land-based production will need to focus more on sustainably intensifying existing production systems. Unfortunately, our understanding of the global patterns of land use intensity is weak, partly because land use intensity is a complex, multidimensional term, and partly because we lack appropriate datasets to assess land use intensity across broad geographic extents. Here, we review the state of the art regarding approaches for mapping land use intensity and provide a…

Volume 5, Issue 5, 01 October 2013, Pp 484-493
Tobias Kuemmerle | Karlheinz Erb | Patrick Meyfroidt | Daniel Müller | Peter H. Verburg | Stephan Estel | Helmut Haberl | Patrick Hostert | Martin R. Jepsen | Thomas Kastner | Christian Levers | Marcus Lindner | Christoph Plutzar | Pieter Johannes Verkerk | Emma H. van der Zanden | Anette Reenberg

Linking biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human well-being: three challenges for designing research for sustainability

© 2015 Elsevier B.V. Ecosystem services research needs to become more transdisciplinary.•ecoSERVICES will advance co-designed, transdisciplinary ecosystem service research. Ecosystem services have become a mainstream concept for the expression of values assigned by people to various functions of ecosystems. Even though the introduction of the concept has initiated a vast amount of research, progress in using this knowledge for sustainable resource use remains insufficient. We see a need to…

Volume 14, Issue , 01 June 2015, Pp 76-85
Elena M. Bennett | Wolfgang Cramer | Alpina Begossi | Georgina Cundill | Sandra Díaz | Benis N. Egoh | Ilse R. Geijzendorffer | Cornelia B. Krug | Sandra Lavorel | Elena Lazos | Louis Lebel | Berta Martín-López | Patrick Meyfroidt | Harold A. Mooney | Jeanne L. Nel | Unai Pascual | Karine Payet | Natalia Pérez Harguindeguy | Garry D. Peterson | Anne Hélène Prieur-Richard | Belinda Reyers | Peter Roebeling | Ralf Seppelt | Martin Solan | Petra Tschakert | Teja Tscharntke | B. L. Turner | Peter H. Verburg | Ernesto F. Viglizzo | Piran C.L. White | Guy Woodward

The nexus across water, energy, land and food (WELF): Potential for improved resource use efficiency?

Water, land and energy resources are all crucial contributors to food security. As a result of growing natural resource scarcity, the inter-connectedness of these sectors has become more apparent, as evidenced by growing tradeoffs and the incipient search for cross-sector efficiencies. Proactive engagement by the water, energy, land and food (WELF) sectors with important roles for national governments and international bodies is required to holistically assess and promote investment options…

Volume 5, Issue 6, 01 December 2013, Pp 617-624
Claudia Ringler | Anik Bhaduri | Richard Lawford

Ecological intensification of agriculture-sustainable by nature

Strategies towards agricultural intensification differ on the definitions of sustainability and the variables included in its evaluation. Different notions of the qualifiers of intensification (ecological, sustainable, durable, etc.) need to be unpacked. This paper examines conceptual differences between sustainable and ecological intensification as used in research, development, policy and the industry, particularly with respect to the balance between agriculture and nature. The study compares…

Volume 8, Issue , 01 January 2014, Pp 53-61
Pablo Tittonell

A conceptual framework for analysing and measuring land-use intensity

Large knowledge gaps currently exist that limit our ability to understand and characterise dynamics and patterns of land-use intensity: in particular, a comprehensive conceptual framework and a system of measurement are lacking. This situation hampers the development of a sound understanding of the mechanisms, determinants, and constraints underlying changes in land-use intensity. On the basis of a review of approaches for studying land-use intensity, we propose a conceptual framework to…

Volume 5, Issue 5, 01 October 2013, Pp 464-470
Karl Heinz Erb | Helmut Haberl | Martin Rudbeck Jepsen | Tobias Kuemmerle | Marcus Lindner | Daniel Müller | Peter H. Verburg | Anette Reenberg

Beyond 'land sparing versus land sharing': Environmental heterogeneity, globalization and the balance between agricultural production and nature conservation

By addressing the trade-offs between food production and biodiversity conservation at landscape and ecoregion scales, the land sparing/sharing debate has made a significant contribution to land use science. However, as global population and food consumption grow, and urbanization and transnational trade intensify, land use trade-offs need to be analyzed at broader scales. These analyses should specifically consider the role of environmental heterogeneity on biodiversity distribution and…

Volume 5, Issue 5, 01 October 2013, Pp 477-483
Ricardo Grau | Tobias Kuemmerle | Leandro Macchi

Identifying trade-offs between ecosystem services, land use, and biodiversity: A plea for combining scenario analysis and optimization on different spatial scales

Research on mitigating land use conflicts is characterized by a variety of projects from the global to various sub-global scales. These projects are aiming at disentangling feedbacks within changing socio-environmental systems to identify strategies for sustainable resource use. Our review shows that any global analysis benefits from systematic synthesis of sub-global research from various scales, while sub-global investigations require embedding in global scenarios. There is an urgent need for…

Volume 5, Issue 5, 01 October 2013, Pp 458-463
Ralf Seppelt | Sven Lautenbach | Martin Volk

Towards a revised planetary boundary for consumptive freshwater use: Role of environmental flow requirements

We review the conceptual and quantitative foundation of the recently suggested 'planetary boundary' for freshwater (PB-Water; i.e. tolerable human 'blue' water consumption), and propose ways forward to refine and reassess it. As a key element of such a revision we suggest a bottom-up quantification of local water availabilities taking account of environmental flow requirements. An analysis that respects these requirements in a spatially explicit manner suggests a PB-Water of ~2800km 3 yr -1…

Volume 5, Issue 6, 01 December 2013, Pp 551-558
Dieter Gerten | Holger Hoff | Johan Rockström | Jonas Jägermeyr | Matti Kummu | Amandine V. Pastor

Impacts of nutrient enrichment on coral reefs: New perspectives and implications for coastal management and reef survival

Anthropogenic nutrient enrichment is often associated with coral reef decline. Consequently, there is a large consent that increased nutrient influxes in reef waters have negative longterm consequences for corals. However, the mechanisms by which dissolved inorganic nutrients can disturb corals and their symbiotic algae are subject to controversial debate. Herein, we discuss recent studies that demonstrate how nutrient enrichment affects the heat and light stress tolerance of corals and their…

Volume 7, Issue , 01 April 2014, Pp 82-93
Cecilia D'Angelo | Jörg Wiedenmann

Coral reefs as novel ecosystems: EMBRACING new futures

The composition and functions of many ecosystems are changing, giving rise to the concept of novel ecosystems. Although some coral reefs are becoming non-coral systems, others are becoming novel coral-dominated ecosystems driven principally by differential species responses to climate change and other drivers, but also due to species range shifts at higher latitudes, and in some cases introduced species. Returning many coral reefs to pristine baselines is unrealistic, whereas embracing novel…

Volume 7, Issue , 01 April 2014, Pp 9-14
Nicholas A.J. Graham | Joshua E. Cinner | Albert V. Norström | Magnus Nyström

Recent advances in the ecology of mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs)

While substantial mesophotic coral ecosystem (MCE) habitat ( > 30-40. m) remains uninvestigated, recent investigations show that the extent of both MCE habitat and species diversity is greater than previously thought. The depth distributions and biogeographic ranges for many shallow-water organisms have also been historically underestimated. The upper mesophotic is home to many shallow-water marine organisms and represents a transition zone between shallow-water and lower mesophotic…

Volume 7, Issue , 01 April 2014, Pp 72-81
S. E. Kahng | J. M. Copus | D. Wagner

Environmental flows and water governance: Managing sustainable water uses

Human water security is often achieved with little consideration of environmental consequences and, even when these are acknowledged, the trade-offs between human and environmental water needs are increasing in frequency and amplitude on the increase. The environmental flows concept has continued to evolve in response to these challenges. However, the field is characterized by a limited transferability of insights, due to the prevalence of specific case-study analyses and a lack of research on…

Volume 5, Issue 3-4, 01 September 2013, Pp 341-351
Claudia Pahl-Wostl | Angela Arthington | Janos Bogardi | Stuart E. Bunn | Holger Hoff | Louis Lebel | Elena Nikitina | Margaret Palmer | Le Roy N. Poff | Keith Richards | Maja Schlüter | Roland Schulze | Andre St-Hilaire | Rebecca Tharme | Klement Tockner | Daniel Tsegai

Climate change and Ecosystem-based Adaptation: A new pragmatic approach to buffering climate change impacts

The changing climate is no longer an abstract issue, and the realities of its impacts are being felt across the globe. Climate change is affecting millions of people, and thwarting their efforts to escape poverty. Against this harsh reality, it will be imperative to speed up the integration of climate risk considerations into policy, in order to ensure that development proceeds along pathways that are resilient to climate change. However, the questions as to the type of strategies, approaches…

Volume 5, Issue 1, 01 March 2013, Pp 67-71
Richard Munang | Ibrahim Thiaw | Keith Alverson | Musonda Mumba | Jian Liu | Mike Rivington

Achieving mitigation and adaptation to climate change through sustainable agroforestry practices in africa

Agroforestry is one of the most conspicuous land use systems across landscapes and agroecological zones in Africa. With food shortages and increased threats of climate change, interest in agroforestry is gathering for its potential to address various on-farm adaptation needs, and fulfill many roles in AFOLU-related mitigation pathways. Agroforestry provides assets and income from carbon, wood energy, improved soil fertility and enhancement of local climate conditions; it provides ecosystem…

Volume 6, Issue 1, 01 February 2014, Pp 8-14
Cheikh Mbow | Pete Smith | David Skole | Lalisa Duguma | Mercedes Bustamante

Multi-scale and cross-scale assessments of social-ecological systems and their ecosystem services

It is often either undesirable or unfeasible to conduct an assessment of ecological or social systems, independently or jointly, at a single scale and resolution in time and space. This paper outlines the alternatives, which include 'multi-scale assessments' (conducting the assessment at two or more discrete scales) and 'cross-scale assessments' (multi-scale assessments which deliberately look for cross-scale interactions), and points to some methods which may be useful in conducting them. The…

Volume 5, Issue 1, 01 March 2013, Pp 16-25
R. J. Scholes | B. Reyers | R. Biggs | M. J. Spierenburg | A. Duriappah

Global land governance: From territory to flow?

This article reviews recent research on contemporary transformations of global land governance. It shows how changes in global governance have facilitated and responded to radical revalorizations of land, together driving the intensified competition and struggles over land observed in many other contributions to this special issue. The rules in place to govern land use are shifting from 'territorial' toward 'flow-centered' arrangements, the latter referring to governance that targets particular…

Volume 5, Issue 5, 01 October 2013, Pp 522-527
Thomas Sikor | Graeme Auld | Anthony J. Bebbington | Tor A. Benjaminsen | Bradford S. Gentry | Carol Hunsberger | Anne Marie Izac | Matias E. Margulis | Tobias Plieninger | Heike Schroeder | Caroline Upton

Sustainable intensification: What is its role in climate smart agriculture?

The 'sustainable intensification' (SI) approach and 'climate-smart agriculture' (CSA) are highly complementary. SI is an essential means of adapting to climate change, also resulting in lower emissions per unit of output. With its emphasis on improving risk management, information flows and local institutions to support adaptive capacity, CSA provides the foundations for incentivizing and enabling intensification. But adaptation requires going beyond a narrow intensification lens to include…

Volume 8, Issue , 01 January 2014, Pp 39-43
Bruce M. Campbell | Philip Thornton | Robert Zougmoré | Piet van Asten | Leslie Lipper

Benefits of restoring ecosystem services in urban areas

© 2015 The Authors. Cities are a key nexus of the relationship between people and nature and are huge centers of demand for ecosystem services and also generate extremely large environmental impacts. Current projections of rapid expansion of urban areas present fundamental challenges and also opportunities to design more livable, healthy and resilient cities (e.g. adaptation to climate change effects). We present the results of an analysis of benefits of ecosystem services in urban areas.…

Volume 14, Issue , 01 June 2015, Pp 101-108
T. Elmqvist | H. Setälä | S. N. Handel | S. van der Ploeg | J. Aronson | J. N. Blignaut | E. Gómez-Baggethun | D. J. Nowak | J. Kronenberg | R. de Groot

Opportunities to improve impact, integration, and evaluation of land change models

Land change modeling supports analyses, assessments, and decisions concerning land management by providing a platform for both encoding mechanisms of land-change processes and making projections of future land-cover and land-use patterns. Approaches have ranged from pattern-based methods, such as machine learning models, to structural or process-based methods, such as economic or agent-based models. Selection of the appropriate modeling approach for a given scientific or decision making purpose…

Volume 5, Issue 5, 01 October 2013, Pp 452-457
Daniel G. Brown | Peter H. Verburg | Robert Gilmore Pontius | Mark D. Lange

Advancing sustainability through mainstreaming a social-ecological systems perspective

© 2015 Elsevier B.V. The concept of social-ecological systems is useful for understanding the interlinked dynamics of environmental and societal change. The concept has helped facilitate: (1) increased recognition of the dependence of humanity on ecosystems; (2) improved collaboration across disciplines, and between science and society; (3) increased methodological pluralism leading to improved systems understanding; and (4) major policy frameworks considering social-ecological interactions.…

Volume 14, Issue , 01 January 2015, Pp 144-149
Joern Fischer | Toby A. Gardner | Elena M. Bennett | Patricia Balvanera | Reinette Biggs | Stephen Carpenter | Tim Daw | Carl Folke | Rosemary Hill | Terry P. Hughes | Tobias Luthe | Manuel Maass | Megan Meacham | Albert V. Norström | Garry Peterson | Cibele Queiroz | Ralf Seppelt | Marja Spierenburg | John Tenhunen

Assessing planetary and regional nitrogen boundaries related to food security and adverse environmental impacts

This paper first describes the concept of, governance interest in, and criticism on planetary boundaries, specifically with respect to the nitrogen (N) cycle. These criticisms are then systematically evaluated. We argue that planetary N boundaries should include both the benefits and adverse impacts of reactive N (Nr) and the spatial variability of Nr impacts. We revise the planetary N boundary by considering the need to: first, avoid adverse impacts of elevated Nr emissions to water, air and…

Volume 5, Issue 3-4, 01 September 2013, Pp 392-402
Wim De Vries | Johannes Kros | Carolien Kroeze | Sybil P. Seitzinger