Michael Gilek

Michael Gilek

Associate Professor

Subject Coordinator


My research concerns environmental governance and difficulties in achieving environmental and sustainability goals. Especially relating to marine and coastal issues.

+46 8 608 48 62 +4686084862

Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies

+46 70 792 32 78 +46707923278


Since I defended my PhD thesis back in 1996, I have assembled an extensive research experience on the assessment, management and governance of environmental issues and sustainability challenges in marine and coastal areas.

While my PhD thesis analysed risks of hazardous chemicals in the Baltic Sea using primarily natural science perspectives, I have in my later research been interested mainly in developing and adopting inter- and transdisciplinary research approaches and collaborations. Not the least my research on marine and risk governance has involved interdisciplinary collaboration with a wide set of social sciences, as well as with societal actors beyond academia.

In the research project BONUS BALTSPACE External link, opens in new window. I coordinated an interdisciplinary team of researchers in five countries around the Baltic Sea to analyse marine spatial planning and its challenges in various national contexts.

Subsequently, the OCEANS PACT External link, opens in new window. and LANDPATHS External link, opens in new window. projects adopt a more explicit transdisciplinary approach by aiming to co-produce understandings of ocean/coastal conflicts, as well as to map out possibilities for conflict transformation and transformative pathways with and a wide set of stakeholders. While much of my research has focused on the Baltic Sea, wider multi-level analysis and international comparisons are also of central importance. Not the least OCEANS PACT External link, opens in new window. builds on case studies of ocean and coastal conflicts in seven national contexts spanning the global South and North.

Finally, building on experiences from these projects, I have together with colleagues taken the initiative to establish a sustainability centre called SustainLab Sh with the aim to build capacity at Södertörn University to generate practical knowledge on ‘real world’ sustainability problems in collaboration with societal actors.

Selected recent publications

Tafon R, Armoskaite A, Gee K, Gilek M, Ikauniece A & Saunders F. 2023. Mainstreaming coastally just and equitable marine spatial planning: Planner and stakeholder experiences and perspectives on participation in Latvia. Ocean & Coastal Management 242 External link, opens in new window.

Tafon R, Saunders S, Pikner T & Gilek M. 2023. Multispecies blue justice and energy transition conflict: examining challenges and possibilities for synergy between low‑carbon energy and justice for humans and nonhuman nature Maritime Studies. External link, opens in new window.

Tafon R, Glavovic B, Saunders F and Gilek M. 2022. Oceans of Conflict: Pathways to an Ocean Sustainability PACT. Planning Practice and Research 37(2): 213-230 External link, opens in new window.

Gilek M, Armoskaite A, Gee K, Saunders F, Tafon R and Zaucha J. 2021. In Search of Social Sustainability in Marine Spatial Planning: A Review of Scientific Literature Published 2005 – 2020. Ocean and Coastal Management 208 External link, opens in new window..

Karlsson M and Gilek M. 2019. Mind the gap – coping with delay in environmental governance. Ambio External link, opens in new window.

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