Foundations of Sustainability Science

A sustainability paradigm for the age of syntheses

In the sciences and society, a time for syntheses has arrived. Historically, we compartmentalized knowledge production into increasingly specialized modules. This process led to the scientific disciplines in the Biological, Human and Exact Sciences. Although this specialization has generated undeniable advances, the challenges of the 21st century now challenge us to find a new way of doing and applying Science. This transformation requires transdisciplinarity to connect concepts, methods and applications from different fields of knowledge and generate genuinely integrated perspectives and innovations for ecological, economic and social problems we shall solve in the decades to come.

In this context, we built the DATAPB under the concept-paradigm of socioecological co-viability, which represents the foundation supporting transdisciplinary syntheses based on quantitative research. Below, we present our references for this concept and how it can connect areas as different as Anthropology, Ecology and Economics in search of innovative solutions for the future of humans and non-humans on planet Earth.

What is coviability?

Coviability coviability the multiple arrangements under which humans and nonhumans can persistently, functionally, and fairly coexist in complex socioecological systems ( Berti-Equille e Raimundo 2022). We built this definition based on the coviability perspective synthesized by Barrière et al. (2019) collaborators and the synthesis of principles that promote socio-ecological resilience under a complex adaptive systems approach presented by  Biggs et al. 2012.

Coviability as the key to bioeconomies of the future

The idea of ​​coviability allows us to put the Human, Exact and Biological Sciences into dialogue to shape arrangements through which ecosystems, social organizations and economic enterprises can connect in a persistent, functional and fair ways. The notion that ecosystems can undergo phase state transitions and have multiple alternative equilibria has been well-established in ecological science for decades. Similarly, scientists use multiple equilibria theories in several areas of knowledge that deal with complex systems, such as Economics.

Connecting knowledge on multiple states of ecosystems with regional bioeconomies compatible with biodiversity conservation and social inclusion is a universal scientific challenge for the 21st century. The concept-paradigm of socio-ecological coviability represents a robust theoretical and methodological foundation for establishing transdisciplinary bridges leading to innovations based on conceptual, methodological and informational syntheses, from which we can shape bioeconomies of the future. 

Biodiversity, culture and innovation for social and productive inclusion

Socioecological innovations face multiple environmental, social and economic demands, which are often conflicting. Many initiatives discussing sustainable bioeconomies, however, do not structurally address the centrality of ecosystem processes and social well-being in balancing trade-offs involving nature, society and economy. Our coviability approach assumes ecosystem thinking and the protection of traditional and local knowledge as necessary conditions for planning bioeconomies of the future. In this way, we use the concept of socio-ecological coviability as a departing point to promote knowledge syntheses and their applications to governance and education, seeking to trigger innovations connecting biological, economic and socio-cultural aspects of the coexistence between humans and non-humans in bioeconomies that are diverse, functional, persistent, fair and democratically managed.  trade-offs entre necessidades da natureza, da sociedade e da economia. Nossa abordagem de coviabilidade parte do pressuposto de que o pensamento ecossistêmico, associado à valorização e proteção da cultura e conhecimentos locais, fazem parte das condições indispensáveis para planejarmos as bioeconomias do futuro. Dessa forma, utilizamos o conceito de coviabilidade socioecológica como ponto de partida para promovermos sínteses de conhecimento e aplicações da ciência à governança e educação, buscando gerar inovações que conectem os aspectos biológicos, econômicos e socioeculturais da coexistência entre humanos e não-humanos em bioeconomias competitivas, diversas, funcionais, persistentes, justas e democraticamente geridas.

How to cite this text

DATAPB, 2023. Socioecological coviability: a sustainability paradigm for the age of syntheses. Availble on

a general overview on our theoretical references

Applying the network approach to socioecological systems open avenues for innovation in research, governance and development projects combining science, democracy and social participation to build the adaptability needed to foster resilient regional bioeconomies. Click on the red icon to watch the talk (in Portuguese).

Rafael L. G. Raimundo (UFPB)

Socioecological Networks: bridging research and governance for conservation, inclusion and the development of regional economies

Talk at the Graduate Program in Ecology - University of São Paulo (2021)