Our Work

Sustainability is empowered communities thriving in their natural environments.

We identify pathways for organisations and communities to become more resilient and prosperous. This includes modelling and designing local-scale renewable energy systems, identifying new livelihood opportunities, engaging with international finance mechanisms to support project activities, and building local resilience to climate change impacts.

Dr Sebastian Thomas talks about SL@M's sustainability science approach.

Sustainability Science

Sustainability science builds prosperous, resilient futures by understanding human-nature interactions and learning new approaches to transition.

The way we think about the world has changed in the last century. Science and society increasingly recognise that not only do complex relationships exist everywhere, but that everything is influenced by factors that may seem very distant. Different approaches to understanding these complex problems have developed in recent decades: ecological economics, actor-network theory, industrial ecology, and participatory systems analysis, among others.


‘Sustainability science’ is an emerging discipline with three key focus areas:

1.        Human-nature interactions – modelling and understanding the dynamics of the relationships between societies and the environment.

2.       Sustainable futures – creating visions of prosperous future systems that are resilient to global change impacts and that maintain viable resource use.

3.       Learning for transition – creating pathways to those sustainable futures through strategic innovations, education and multi-stakeholder processes.


Sustainability science is a new type of scientific discipline. It requires non-experts to be involved in designing research questions and methods, and for different types of knowledge to be integrated. Sustainability science is structured and empirical, but embraces traditional wisdom and qualitative approaches. It is strategically focused on real problems and long-term challenges.


Sustainability science is the post-normal science of the 21st Century.


Global Change

We are living in the Anthropocene – an age where human activities are the main cause of global change. Population growth and increasing consumption are tipping the sensitive balance of our planet. We are using more than the Earth can provide, and in doing so are changing the way our planet's systems interact with each other in ways that we can't fully predict. Climate change, biodiversity loss, deforestation, habitat destruction, ecosystem collapse, rising sea levels... our influence on these processes is leading us towards an uncertain future.

Advances in technology are rapidly accelerating, bringing both opportunities and risks. We are connected better than ever through this technology, with a global sense of community. But inequality is on the rise, wealth distribution remains in favour of the very rich, food security is a growing problem, and political divisions are widening. Conflict is a fact of life in many parts of the world, with the potential to spread. Population growth and resource scarcity are driving forces behind migration patterns – climate refugees are already a reality, and their numbers are expected to grow. The energy we use is still mostly supplied by fossil-fuels, and although renewable options are available, political commitment to a clean-energy future is inconsistent at best.  

We face significant challenges in learning to live within our means in the midst of all this change.


People | Nature | Prosperity

We recognise the importance of balanced and resilient social-ecological outcomes in building sustainable futures. Our focus it to protect and revive the natural environments we work with, while empowering communities and organisations in determining and improving their own livelihoods - working with and building on existing strengths.

We aim to facilitate sustainable and diverse economic opportunities, and to contribute to improvements in education and health outcomes, while respecting the balance of local ecosystems. Our goal is to facilitate pathways to futures where people are thriving in, and connected to, their natural environments.