Changing social and cultural values of nature: Exploring plural values of human-nature relationships in glacierized environments

Project: Research

Project Details


The project responds to FORMAS’ call for integrated knowledge of climate change, ecosystems and society, and addresses the need for in-depth study of the human-nature relationship by crossing boundaries between different research fields ecosystem services and valuation, political ecology and glaciology.

Around the world, glaciers have been retreating at unprecedented rates. Glaciers affect people and societal relations worldwide on many levels, whether by influencing mountain ecosystems, providing water for drinking and agriculture, generating hydroelectric energy, determining safety for downstream communities, or driving tourism economies and other types of livelihoods.

This project brings biodiversity studies into conversation with climate change adaptation by using taxonomy of plural values in order to unpack changing human-nature relationships associated with glacier retreat. This project offers a departure from ecosystem services framework as the only object of valuation.

Taxonomy of plural values will identify the ways in which societies engage with nature and glaciers in the age of climate change. Three metaphors on human–nature relationships will be used: ‘gaining from nature’, ‘living for nature’, and ‘living in nature’. In the context of this frameworks, this project will provide a trans-regional multi-case study of sub-regions in Scandinavia and the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH), each occupying unique positions in the face of climate change in their glacial environments, with different levels of economic and social development, and with varying alternative livelihoods.

We will explore and document how energy security, tourism, indigenous livelihoods as well as spiritual connections are affected in Chamoli, Uttarakhand, Khumbu in the Himalayas and Jostedal, Briksdalsbreen,Rembesdalskåka glaciers in Scandinavia.

Project will result in academic articles, conferences and a book under the theme of Climate and Ecological Justice for the Cryosphere.
Effective start/end date2023/01/152027/05/05

Collaborative partners

  • Lund University (lead)
  • Norwegian Institute for Nature Research
  • Stiftelsen Grid-Arendal
  • International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development Nepal (ICIMOD)


  • FORMAS, The Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

UKÄ subject classification

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Free keywords

  • Sustainability
  • nature
  • biodiversity
  • Climate change
  • glacier