Closing of PERN Cyberseminar "the habitability concept in the field of population-environment studies: relevance and research implications"

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Marion Borderon

Mar 21, 2023, 3:01:03 AMMar 21
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Dear colleagues,

Last week until yesterday, we observed fruitful discussions on the topic “the habitability concept in the field of population-environment studies: relevance and research implications” in the context of PERN Cyberseminar.

Many thanks to our experts panellists:

Aliyu Barau, Bayero University, Nigeria

Carol Farbotko, Griffith University, Australia

Luke Kemp, Cambridge University, UK

David O’Byrne, Lund University, Sweden

Maria Franco Gavonel, University of York, UK

Harald Sterly, University of Vienna, Austria

David Wrathall, Oregon State University, USA

for their contribution and commitment in providing their statements, participating in the Webinar and contributing to the Cyberseminar discussions.

My gratitude goes to Alex de Sherbinin and Susana Adamo from CIESIN who helped organise the cyberseminar and whose intellectual commitment made this stimulating debate possible!

A particular thank you to Lisa Lukang and Adrienne Kenyon from CIESIN for their support in ensuring that the Webinar and the Cyberseminar run smoothly.

 I would also like to thank the participants of the 13 March webinar and the contributors to the discussions, who come from different disciplines and different parts of the world.

Throughout the cyberseminar, various topics were discussed, including the evolution of socio-environmental systems (SES), thresholds and tipping points, existential risks, the differentiation between physical and social habitability, connectivity and the interrelation between SES. Expert panelists and Participants also examined how talking about habitability implies discussing issues of inequality and power relations. They asked questions such as who decides, who defines, and who measures, and what the consequences of these decisions might be. The importance of including population and demography in assessing habitability, recognizing the critical role that factors such as population size, density, and age structure can play in shaping the social and environmental conditions that impact habitability was also highlighted.

Overall, the cyberseminar emphasized the importance of integrating multiple perspectives and methods to better understand and promote habitability, particularly in the context of environmental sustainability and social justice. The combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches can provide a more holistic understanding of the concept, including how physical and social factors interact and shape habitability. Moreover, the inclusion of diverse perspectives, particularly those of communities affected by habitability issues, can help ensure that the measurement of habitability is both rigorous and relevant to those most impacted.

All statements, Webinar presentations and discussions can be found here.

I am very confident that if the time has come to close this seminar, it is only the continuation and beginning of new collaborations, research and discussions on this exciting topic.  Moreover, the discussions continue and we remind you of the panel planned for the Managed Retreat 2023 conference (, which will be from 20-23 June.

 Best regards,

 Marion Borderon* (UNIVIE) on behalf of the organizing committee:

Harald Sterly* (UNIVIE), Patrick Sakdapolrak* (UNIVIE), Francois Gemenne** (ULiège), Caroline Zickgraf* (ULiège), Alex de Sherbinin (Columbia University), Susana Adamo (Columbia University), Radley Horton (Columbia University)

*members of the Habitable Project Linking Climate Change, Habitability and Social Tipping Points: Scenarios for Climate Migration

**Principal Investigator of the HABITABLE project





Dr. Marion Borderon

Senior Scientist | UNIVIE Research Associate HABITABLE

Department of Geography and Regional Research | University of Vienna

Universitätsstraße 7/5 | 1010 Vienna | Austria

Tel: +43-1-4277-48733 | Email:


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