Reconnecting with nature for sustainability

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Calls for humanity to ‘reconnect to nature’ have grown increasingly louder from both scholars and civil society. Yet, there is relatively little coherence about what reconnecting to nature means, why it should happen and how it can be achieved. We present a conceptual framework to organise existing literature and direct future research on human–nature connections. Five types of connections to nature are identified: material, experiential, cognitive, emotional, and philosophical. These various types have been presented as causes, consequences, or treatments of social and environmental problems. From this conceptual base, we discuss how reconnecting people with nature can function as a treatment for the global environmental crisis. Adopting a social–ecological systems perspective, we draw upon the emerging concept of ‘leverage points’—places in complex systems to intervene to generate change—and explore examples of how actions to reconnect people with nature can help transform society towards sustainability.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSustainability Science
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)1389-1397
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 01.09.2018

    Research areas

  • Human–nature relationship, Social–ecological systems, Sustainability, Transformation