Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2020, Vol. 75 ›› Issue (11): 2408-2416.doi: 10.11821/dlxb202011010

• Ecological Civilization and Sustainable Development • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Sustainability in the Anthropocene: Telecoupling framework and its applicationss

SUN Jing1(), LIU Jianguo2, YANG Xinjun3, ZHAO Fuqiang4, QIN Yuchu5, YAO Yingying6, WANG Fang7, LUN Fei8, WANG Jiejing9, QIN Bo9, LIU Tao10, ZHANG Conglin11, HUANG Baorong11, CHENG Yeqing12, SHI Jinlian13, ZHANG Jinsong14, TANG Huajun1, YANG Peng1, WU Wenbin1()   

  1. 1. Institute of Agricultural Resources and Regional Planning, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing 100081, China
    2. Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48823, USA
    3. Department of Economic Geography and Planning, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Northwest University, Xi'an 710127, China
    4. Institute of Applied Ecology, CAS, Shenyang 110016, China
    5. State Key Lab of Remote Sensing Sciences, Aerospace Information Research Institute, CAS, Beijing 100094, China
    6. Department of Environmental Science, School of Human Settlements and Civil Engineering, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an 710054, China
    7. School of Life Sciences, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China
    8. Department of Land Resource Management, College of Land Science and Technology, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, China
    9. Department of Uran Planning and Management, School of Public Administration and Policy, Renmin University, Beijing 100872, China
    10. Department of Urban and Regional Planning, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
    11. Institutes of Science and Development, CAS, Beijing 100090, China
    12. College of Geography and Environmental Sciences, Hainan Normal University, Haikou 571158, China
    13. Department of International Tourism Management, School of International Economics Management, Beijing Technology and Business University, Beijing 102488, China
    14. Research Institute of Forestry, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing 100091, China
  • Received:2019-10-27 Revised:2020-07-10 Online:2020-11-25 Published:2021-01-25
  • Contact: WU Wenbin;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41871356);US National Science Foundation(1924111)


With increasing global integration, distant coupled human and natural systems have more interactions than ever before, which often lead to unexpected outcomes with profound implications for sustainability. The integrated framework of telecoupling (socioeconomic and environmental interactions over distances) has been proposed to address such cross-border and cross-scale challenges, helping better evaluate and understand telecouplings. We first provide an introduction to the telecoupling framework, including components, definitions, and functions, and then offer an overview of the growing number of telecoupling studies. Particularly, we use three Chinese cases to illustrate the methods, results, significance, and implications of applying the telecoupling framework. We also point out some research gaps and critical unsolved questions in the applications. The telecoupling framework provides a powerful tool to incorporate feedbacks, trade-offs, and synergies across multiple coupled human and natural systems, and helps improve the understanding of distant interactions and the effectiveness of policies for socioeconomic and environmental sustainability across local to global levels.

Key words: telecoupling, coupled human and natural systems, water transfer, food trade, natural conservation area, system feedbacks