He works on social-ecological systems and resilience emphasizing the need for societal development to reconnect to the capacity of the biosphere to sustain human development. He directs the Global Economic Dynamics and the Biosphere Academy Programme and the IPO of the Programme of Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS) of Future Earth. He co-founded the Resilience Alliance, is editor in chief of its journal Ecology and Society and was engaged in the development of the field of ecological economics.

He has produced about two hundred seventy five publications, including fourteen books, serves as advisor to research institutes, policy and practice across the world and is deeply engaged in the art-science interface.