Inequality and the biosphere

Maike Hamann, Kevin Berry, Tomas Chaigneau, Tracie Curry, Robert Heilmayr, Patrik J.G. Henriksson, Jonas Hentati-Sundberg, Amir Jina, Emilie Lindkvist, Yolanda Lopez-Maldonado, Emmi Nieminen, Matías Piaggio, Jiangxiao Qiu, Juan C. Rocha, Caroline Schill, Alon Shepon, Andrew R. Tilman, Inge Van Den Bijgaart, Tong Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Rising inequalities and accelerating global environmental change pose two of the most pressing challenges of the twenty-first century. To explore how these phenomena are linked, we apply a social-ecological systems perspective and review the literature to identify six different types of interactions (or "pathways") between inequality and the biosphere. We find that most of the research so far has only considered one-directional effects of inequality on the biosphere, or vice versa. However, given the potential for complex dynamics between socioeconomic and environmental factors within social-ecological systems, we highlight examples from the literature that illustrate the importance of cross-scale interactions and feedback loops between inequality and the biosphere. This review draws on diverse disciplines to advance a systemic understanding of the linkages between inequality and the biosphere, specifically recognizing cross-scale feedbacks and the multidimensional nature of inequality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-83
Number of pages23
JournalAnnual Review of Environment and Resources
StatePublished - 17 Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
Anna-Greta and Holger Crafoord Foundation
Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics
Ebba and Sven Schwartz Foundation
Kjell and Märta Beijer Foundation
US National Science FoundationDEB-1632648
Marie Curie2015–01556


    • climate change
    • feedbacks
    • global environmental change
    • multidimensional inequality
    • scale
    • social-ecological systems


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