Dr Stephen Woroniecki

Principal Research Officer, Ecosystem Health and Social Dimensions

About me

I am an environmental social scientist by training. I have a broad interest in how social sciences can be used to make conservation more effective and fairer for people and nature. For conservation to succeed, we need inclusive governance of biodiversity at different levels to ensure that key groups and stakeholders are empowered in decision-making that affects them. I have worked previously using qualitative social science to examine the multiple benefits of nature-based solutions to climate change. In my PhD I studied how nature-based adaptations (including wetlands) to climate change can provide opportunities for empowerment of marginalised groups using case studies from Sri Lanka. I have also been involved in work on how nature-based solutions can reduce people’s vulnerability to climate change across the global south.

More recently I have been doing research to understand how people make sense of environmental change in the context of climate changes in the Pacific. This work considers the role of personal experience in shaping how we come to see the world and ourselves in it.

I have learned that biodiversity loss cannot be addressed through conventional conservation methods alone. We also need to tackle the underlying drivers of threats to nature. In this regard, I am working with Intergovernmental science: policy platform on biodiversity and ecosystem services (IPBES) on the assessment report on transformative change.

I enjoy working in interdisciplinary environments, and I am interested in using participatory and creative approaches to engage communities. Through my work I have learned the importance of questions of power and equity in relation to nature and biodiversity. I have experience working in Latin America, East Africa, South Asia and the Pacific.

Outside of work, I recently moved back to the UK after living in Sweden for 10 years, where I developed a love for nature-related activities such as foraging for mushrooms in the forest, and swimming in and ice skating on the lakes.

My role

I am working in the Slough and Richmond Community Bluescapes projects, focussing on the climate resilience and social dimensions.

I am in the Conservation Evidence (Ecosystem health and social dimensions) department, and my role will primarily be research. The focus of this research will tie-in closely with the practice of these projects, and lead to better understanding of how co-design of flood management components can empower communities and ensure the approaches meet their needs and priorities.

Experience and interests

  • Nature-based solutions
  • Climate change adaptation, vulnerability and resilience
  • International Biodiversity and Climate Change Issues, the Biodiversity and Climate negotiations.
  • Questions of power, equity and justice
  • Social science (especially qualitative methods)
  • Teaching and Supervision: MSc and BSc education on sustainability science. MSc and BSc thesis supervision.
  • Events planning and hosting (e.g. webinars)
  • Participatory and creative methods


  • Woroniecki, S (2019) Enabling environments? Examining social co-benefits of ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change in Sri Lanka. Sustainability 11 (3), 772 2.
  • Woroniecki, S., Wamsler, C., Boyd, E (2020) The promises and pitfalls of ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change as a vehicle for social empowerment. Ecology and Society 24 (2) 3.
  • Woroniecki, H Wendo, E Brink, M Islar, T Krause, AM Vargas, (2020) Nature unsettled: How knowledge and power shape ‘nature-based’ approaches to societal challenges. Global Environmental Change 65, 102132
  • Woroniecki, S FA Spiegelenberg, A Chausson, B Turner, I Key (2022) Contributions of nature-based solutions to reducing people’s vulnerabilities to climate change across the rural Global South. Climate and Development, 1-18 5.
  • Turner, B., Devisscher, T., Chabaneix, N., Woroniecki, S., Messier, C (2022) The role of nature-based solutions in supporting social-ecological resilience for climate change adaptation. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 47, 123-148
  • Woroniecki, S. (2020). Confronting the ecology of crisis: The interlinked roles of ecosystem-based adaptation and empowerment. [Doctoral Thesis (compilation), LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies), Lund University]. Lund University.
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