Global telecoupling: Linking UK consumption to international natural capital dependencies

Lead Research Organisation: University of York
Department Name: Environment


Given current globalised and complex supply chains, it is up to now impossible to understand how changes in consumption patterns would result in changes to Natural Capital. Nevertheless, more and finer resolution data are becoming available through platforms like TRASE, Global Forest Watch or satellites. Therefore, geographical information systems, Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services tools and multi-regional input-output trade models can be combined to develop tools that link UK's consumption to the location of land use and therefore changes in ecosystem goods and services. Combining these approaches together with the qualitative analyses of stakeholder's priorities and needs for indicators would be very novel.

As I have previously been impressed by the SEI's and York University's interdisciplinary and applied research, I was very excited to read about the ESRC's White Rose Doctoral training. This project represents an exciting opportunity for me to contribute to a strong collaborative team by providing unique insights gained from my academic and industry-oriented career. I am thrilled at the idea of working with a world-class multidisciplinary team who share my strong vision: a sustainable future for all. My previous experience in translating science to decision-makers would ensure a successful co-development of the indicators, so that they can contribute to WWF's Living Planet Research.
I earned two university degrees in Environmental Sciences (BSc and MSc) where I specialised in the sustainable use of ecosystems from the University of Bayreuth in Germany. During my Postgraduate Diploma in Conservation Biology from the University of Wellington in New Zealand I was able to deepen my ecological knowledge, and broaden my expertise to the human dimension of conservation. In my Master's thesis, I applied this knowledge to improve the impact assessment of biodiversity from land use in life cycle assessment to compare organic and conventional milk. Furthermore I worked as a leader of an international work camp where I was responsible for the coordination and facilitation of cross-cultural communication between volunteers, project partners and local people.
In my current role as Environmental Sustainability Scientist with Unilever, I contribute to research projects addressing limitations of traditional life cycle assessment approaches. Our team develops methods for predicting implications of consumption on global land use (change) and thus biodiversity and ecosystem services such as carbon storage, nutrient and sediment retention. Drawing out insights from complex science to translate to decision-makers in innovation, supply chain and marketing allowed me to gain valuable business understanding. Over the past three years with Unilever, it has become increasingly apparent to me, that in order to successfully link global environmental changes back to the drivers of consumption, an understanding of economic aspects is essential. Therefore, I became more and more interested in widening my expertise to the economic sciences that are needed to solve current global challenges that can help decision-makers to arrive at more informed decisions.
Being a motivated and very curious learner, I am confident that I can maximise on the training provided by the Social Research Masters program, to see new and innovative links between social-, economic and environmental sciences. The challenge of high-resolution spatial data needed for a robust assessment of Natural Capital, could be overcome through the data the TRASE tool will make increasingly available. My previous experience in developing and communicating science to decision-makers, would also help me to find the right level of complexity needed to represent impact on ecosystem services in a meaningful way while allowing for the simplification that is needed to understand how changes in demand of certain crops translates to changes in overseas impacts.


10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000746/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
1944085 Studentship ES/P000746/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2021 Carina Mueller
Description Clear need for the kind of research I was planning to do by industry stakeholders identified through the interviews in terms of understanding sub-national level environmental impacts of trade-driven commodities import.
Exploitation Route through the publication
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink