Island Sustainability

A socioecological approach to island sustainability: Transformative research and the role of science in sustainability transitions (working title)

Panos Petridis


The very ‘insularity’ of islands makes them excellent focal points for sustainability studies that systematically analyze the interactions between human activities and the environment. Analytically, this research contributes to studies on island sustainability, by exploring the factors that cause island societies to prosper and sustain themselves and those that lead to demographic collapse. The island of Samothraki has experienced a number of historical cases of collapse, in the sense of a breakdown of complexity and rapid population decline. At present, there is a fragile situation of slow population decline and ecological challenges that might be brought to a ‘tipping point’ by the impacts of the Greek economic and governance crisis. Using a socioecological systems approach the aim is to identify critical environmental and social “tipping points”. In addition, this study builds upon and reflects on the transdisciplinary efforts to establish a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve on Samothraki. Taking into account the conceptual understanding of the problem, the visions of the people and the local and institutional constraints and opportunities, it aims to evaluate the intervention potential for a sustainability transition.

Related Publications

Petridis, P., M. Fischer-Kowalski, S.J. Singh and D. Noll, 2017. The Role of Science in Sustainability Transitions: Citizen Science, Transformative Research, and Experiences from Samothraki Island, Greece. Island Studies Journal, In press.

Petridis P. and J. Huber, 2017. A Sociometabolic Transition of Diets on a Greek Island: Evidence of Quiet Sustainability. In: “Socio-Metabolic Perspectives on Sustainability of Local Food Systems”, E. Fraňková, W. Haas & S. J. Singh (Eds.), under contract with Springer.

Petridis, P. 2016. Establishing a Biosphere Reserve on the island of Samothraki, Greece: A transdisciplinary journey. Sustainable Mediterranean, Special Issue, No 72, 39-41. Issue available online at:

Petridis, P. and M. Fischer-Kowalski, 2016. Island Sustainability: The Case of Samothraki. In: “Social Ecology: Analyzing Society-Nature Relations across Time and Space”, H. Haberl, M. Fischer-Kowalski, F. Krausmann, V. Winiwarter (eds.), 1st ed. Berlin: Springer, pp. 543-557.

Petridis, P., B. Muraca and G. Kallis, 2015. Degrowth: between a scientific concept and a slogan for a social movement. In: “Handbook of Ecological Economics”, J. Martinez-Alier and R. Muradian (eds.), Edward Elgar, pp. 176-200.

Petridis, P., R. Hickisch, M. Klimek, R. Fischer, N. Fuchs, G. Kostakiotis, M. Wendland, M. Zipperer and M. Fischer-Kowalski. 2013. Exploring local opportunities and barriers for a sustainability transition on a Greek island. Social Ecology Working Paper 142, Vienna, June 2013, available at:

Petridis, P. 2012. Perceptions, attitudes and involvement of local residents in the establishment of a Samothraki Biosphere Reserve, Greece. Eco.mont-Journal on Protected Mountain Areas Research. 4 (1), 59-63.