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Sustainability science needs approaches that allow for the integration of knowledge across disciplines and scales. This paper suggests an approach to conceptualize problems of unsustainability by embedding the Drivers–Pressure–State–Impact–Response (DPSIR) scheme within a multi-level institutional framework represented by Hägerstrand’s system of nested domains. The proposed taxonomy helps to decipher and to better understand key casual chains and societal responses at the appropriate spatial levels for particular sustainability problem areas. To illustrate the scheme more concretely the example of recent problem-solving efforts for Baltic Sea eutrophication driven by Swedish agriculture is examined. The discussion focuses on how the scheme fulfills the four research strategy requirements within the field of sustainability science and how the scheme is distinct from alternative approaches.