Spillover systems in a telecoupled Anthropocene: typology, methods, and governance for global sustainability

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


The world has become increasingly telecoupled through distant flows of information, energy, people, organisms, goods, and matter. Recent advances suggest that telecouplings such as trade and species invasion often generate spillover systems with profound effects. To untangle spillover complexity, we make the first attempt to develop a typology of spillover systems based on six criteria: flows from and to sending and receiving systems, distances from sending and receiving systems, types of spillover effects, sizes of spillover systems, roles of agents in spillover systems, and the origin of spillover systems. Furthermore, we highlight a portfolio of qualitative and quantitative methods for detecting the often-overlooked spillover systems. To effectively govern spillover systems for global sustainability, we propose an overall goal (minimize negative and maximize positive spillover effects) and three general principles (fairness, responsibility, and capability).


  • Jianguo Liu
  • Yue Dou
  • Mateus Batistella
  • Edward Challies
  • Thomas Connor
  • Cecilie Friis
  • James DA Millington
  • Esther Parish
  • Chelsie L. Romulo
  • Ramon Felipe Bicudo Silva
  • Heather Triezenberg
  • Hongbo Yang
  • Zhiqiang Zhao
  • Karl S. Zimmerer
  • Falk Huettmann
  • Michael L. Treglia
  • Zeenatul Basher
  • Min Gon Chung
  • Anna Herzberger
  • Andrea Lenschow
  • Jens Newig
  • James Roche
  • Jing Sun
External organisations
  • Michigan State University
  • Leuphana University Lüneburg
  • Canterbury University
  • Humboldt University of Berlin
  • King's College London
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • University of Campinas
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • University of Osnabrück
  • Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation
  • University of Northern Colorado
  • Nature Conservancy
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Environmental Management
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-69
Number of pages12
JournalCurrent Opinion in Environmental Sustainability
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Aug 1
Publication categoryResearch