The Southern African Program on Ecosystem Change and Society: An emergent community of practice

Reinette Biggs*, Belinda Reyers, Ryan Blanchard, Hayley Clements, Jessica Cockburn, Graeme S. Cumming, Georgina Cundill, Alta de Vos, Luthando Dziba, Karen J. Esler, Christo Fabricius, Maike Hamann, Rebecka Henriksson, Karen Kotschy, Regina Lindborg, Linda Luvuno, Vanessa Masterson, Jeanne L. Nel, Patrick O’Farrell, Carolyn G. PalmerLaura Pereira, Sharon Pollard, Rika Preiser, Dirk J. Roux, Robert J. Scholes, Odirilwe Selomane, Charlie Shackleton, Sheona Shackleton, Nadia Sitas, Jasper A. Slingsby, Marja Spierenburg, Maria Tengö

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Sustainability-focused research networks and communities of practice have emerged as a key response and strategy to build capacity and knowledge to support transformation towards more sustainable, just and equitable futures. This paper synthesises insights from the development of a community of practice on social-ecological systems (SES) research in southern Africa over the past decade, linked to the international Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS). This community consists of a network of researchers who carry out place-based SES research in the southern African region. They interact through various cross-cutting working groups and also host a variety of public colloquia and student and practitioner training events. Known as the Southern African Program on Ecosystem Change and Society (SAPECS), its core objectives are to: (1) derive new approaches and empirical insights on SES dynamics in the southern African context; (2) have a tangible impact by mainstreaming knowledge into policy and practice; and (3) grow the community of practice engaged in SES research and governance, including researchers, students and practitioners. This paper reflects on experiences in building the SAPECS community, with the aim of supporting the development of similar networks elsewhere in the world, particularly in the Global South.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2150317
Number of pages10
JournalEcosystems and People
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jan 2023


  • Elena Bennett
  • Global South
  • research network
  • social-ecological systems
  • sustainability science
  • transdisciplinarity


Dive into the research topics of 'The Southern African Program on Ecosystem Change and Society: An emergent community of practice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this