The entry into the 21st Century has been accompanied by major upheavals that have transformed the Earth as well as the biodiversity and humanity that inhabit it. The speed of these transformations has never been so great and the dynamics of the coupling between the social systems and the biogeochemical systems in certain cases is reaching breaking point on a planetary scale. A strong, integrative and forward-looking fundamental science today makes it possible, with the tools and methods emerging in the environmental sciences, to put scientific ecology at the heart of the issues of sustainable development.

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